Recruiters should adapt to changing candidate behaviours to win top war for top talent.

Charles Hipps, CEO, Oleeo & Bill Boorman, Hiring and Technology Advisor.

An increasingly connected world is changing candidate behaviours. Companies and potential employees are now connected at a rapid rate. People are agile, they can change practices and attitudes instantly, whereas corporate organisations are constantly playing catch up.

In order to identify what this means for organisations Oleeo teamed up with Bill Boorman, to see how the recruiting landscape is changing. We followed just under nine million applications made to 25 companies based in the UK, USA and APAC. We wanted to look across three continents to see if the trends were different geographically. We also wanted to investigate trends by industry, to see how much the trends differed by sector, looking at finance and banking, retail, engineering, consulting, healthcare, media, advertising and government/police. 

We tracked all the actions from the point an application is started in order to understand what happens at each of the stages of the hiring processes, along with the number and ratios of opt outs and rejections. This allows us to report on what the current hiring funnel looks like. By looking at what actually happens in the hiring funnel, we can consider where we can best automate, including the benefits of applying machine learning and AI to democratise hiring.

One of the big standouts from the research is the volume of applications, which have doubled over the last two years. Some investigation into this shows that candidates are applying for more companies than ever before, with the celebrated ‘purpose’ having less impact than we might think, because candidates are applying across a range of industries. 

The first challenge this raises is how we cope with the volume if this trend continues. The candidates are behaving in ways contrary to common thinking.

Employer brand is having less impact on determining whether to apply to a company or not. It doesn’t look like potential candidates are “shopping” like consumers, comparing one brand to another and limiting applications. Tracking from websites shows they are not paying too much attention to the brand content before hitting apply and starting the process. There is little evidence of consuming content, looking at review sites or conducting hours of research. What we are seeing is a concentration of attention on the job pages to determine suitability before hitting apply.

This digital footprint of career site visitors (we can track page views, linger time and bounce rate) suggests that candidates are making decisions on proceeding from the job based on criteria like location, salary and minimum requirements. We can consider this the emergence of “job brand” over “employer brand” at apply stage. What is clear is the need for single job landing pages that clearly show job titles, salary, location and disqualifiers. 

Definitive closure seems to be a consistent theme in all candidate experience research. The expectation being that at the end of the apply process candidates are just not going to hear back, hence the reason for not spending lots of time researching before applying.

The volumes applying only adds to this, making communication without automation almost impossible. Of the close to nine million applications we tracked, only 10 per cent of candidates are invited to first stage screening. Interestingly this did not differ much from sector to sector. First stage screening consisted of either a first round interview, telephone screen or video interview.

If the trend for increased volumes continues, and we believe it will, organisations need to have a clear strategy for managing volume in an automated way, including screening and scheduling in the apply process. The advent of chatbots in this process has had dramatic results combining job discovery with apply and screening in one action.

The volume of applicants also gives a clear indicator that organisations either will, or have reached what we have called the “Talent tipping Point.” The talent tipping point is a notional number of contacts in the ATS from previous applications, at which point an organisation is connected with enough people to fulfil their future hiring requirements. 

Whether it’s time delays, poor communication with applicants, or a bad online user experience, recruiters and employers risk losing qualified candidates which could mean months, if not years, of work have gone to waste and the search for other qualified candidates must start over.

To view the report go to:

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