There's not a lot of joy in recruiting today – with the gap between what you intend and what does happen during the candidate journey wider than ever.
Recruiters are overwhelmed. Candidates are demoralized. Their parallel journeys need an intervention to get them back on the right path. And technology is the antidote.
Symphony Talent’s Chief Joy Officer, Debbie Tuel, will host three callers who are ready to give their confessions: a recruiter, a candidate, and a talent leader. She'll give each of them actionable tips for what they all need: a joy intervention.
Debbie [00:00:03] Hi and welcome to The JOY Podcast, episode two, where we shine a light on how global organizations are getting people back to work faster and with an exceptional experience. I'm Debbie Tuel, your Chief Joy Officer at Symphony Talent, a global recruitment marketing technology company that is leading an industry wide movement in partnership with both our customers and partners. It's a project we're calling the Joy Pipeline, and we are glad that you are joining us on this journey of yes. Our mission is to help recruiters bring the joy back to recruiting and empower them to create exceptional experiences that both they and the candidates need now. We are coming to you live today from #TheCandEs Virtual Conference: A New Hope for Hiring in 2021. Hopefully, each of you have had a chance to read this year's candidate experience report. It is full of so much great data, but it's one thing to read the research. It is another altogether to hear it, to experience it. So bear with us. We are going to go on a journey. We are taking one of our listeners favorite segments, Confessions of a Candidate Recruiter. And we've brought in some actors who are going through the job search experience themselves right now. And they're going to help us bring the research to life in an experiential way. Before we get started, we always like to start our segments with asking and checking in, how are you today? Have you taken time to check in with yourself lately? How about your candidates? Well, let's go ahead and check in with some recruiters, with some candidates, we'll take our first caller. Allison, how are you today?
Allison (recruiter) [00:02:03] Oh, my. Are there enough hours in the day to get through all of this? Short answer, no. Yeah, I was hired to build relationships and represent my company. Made people feel good about joining us. Oh, and follow up with everybody, even the people who don't make it to the interviewing stage. Instead, I'm in admin hell, wading through resumes, forms and back-end busy work. How do I feel for the people I don't connect with, with so much on my plate? You know, it's lucky anybody, even a candidate who gets the job, receives the amount of attention he actually deserves. Oh, and what if someone who doesn't make the cut for the role is perfect for the job a few months down the line? Well, I'm back at square one. They have fallen off my radar and by then they probably think we're a cold hearted bunch anyway, and wouldn't even want to work for? This isn't what I signed up for. I'm a professional recruiter, not a forms depot. Where's the joy in this?
Debbie [00:03:37] Wow. Thank you, Allison. I have to start. What exactly is in that envelope? I mean, are people still really mailing you their resumes? We might have much bigger technology challenges to tackle if that's the case. In all seriousness, though, most of my conversations with TA leaders over the last 15 years have centered around this challenge and balance of quality versus quantity. And when we think about that balance, it's how do we increase engagement with the quality talent? How do we still leave a positive impact for those that don't fit the bill? And how do we maintain long term relationships with those that are a close fit? Allison, I think you hit on something that we can all relate to: admin hell. It's not a fun part of the job. It leaves even those candidates, as you mentioned, that don't get the job or excuse me, those that do get the job without the attention that they deserve. Not to mention those that didn't. And nobody wants that to happen. And that shouldn't happen anymore. The candidate's journey won't always wind up with an offer, but what we can offer as talent acquisition professionals is to inform them along the way and give them a dignified and joyful experience as possible. If we can automate more of the transactional parts of the candidate identification, communication, process workflow, that can take a lot of pressure off of the recruiters. It's not to replace the recruiters. Instead, it's giving them the much needed help that they need with those administrative tasks. Now, Allison, that then gives you time to focus on where the human elements add the most value. Building relationships with the quality talent and hiring managers that you serve. And now you have ownership of the situation, of the scenario, and not simply reacting to what's thrown at you. And the candidate has a consistent, thoughtful, sustained experience too. It becomes a win win. I often come back to Allyn Bailey of Intel's thoughts on pipeline management. Allyn says everyone who enters our pipeline is valuable to us. Maybe not right now, maybe later, maybe again someday if left us to another opportunity, maybe because the friends that they know or contacts they have that are connected to us, no opportunity for a long term relationship is discarded or wasted. That is the Holy Grail. I love Intel's way of thinking and Allyn's way of looking at it. Before we move to the next caller, really quick, real life story. A few weeks ago, one of my best girlfriends was interviewing for a senior role at a large pharmaceutical organization. It was right about the time that Symphony Talent was rolling out our Joy Pipeline initiative and right as it was announced that I got the role as our Chief Joy Officer. And my girlfriend reached out in such excitement after reading the press release, just like, oh, my goodness, this resonated with me. I identify with it. The job search experience is not pleasant, but I just had this amazing experience with a recruiter. I didn't get the job, but she connected and informed me all along the way. And it was a really great experience. I had a lot of joy working with her. So shout out to Lisa D. For those that are listening, I promise we will have Lisa on a future show to really dig into her process and her technology. But these are the moments of joy that technology, in conjunction with great recruiters, can help facilitate and create. So let's jump in to our next story, our next caller, this time let's hear directly from a candidate. So, Kristin, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?
Kristin (candidate) [00:07:53] My company furloughed a lot of people, myself included, a few months ago. And I was really thinking about getting a different job anyway. But this just really kicked my search up a notch. Anyway, after five or six weeks of sitting around, I was ready to jump back in and, you know, get back to work. But, what's with these companies and how they treat their candidates? By now, I've probably applied at like a dozen different places and I might, I might, get an automatic thank you when I fill out their applications. But you get that even when you're buying a sweater on Kohl's.com. Which brings me to my next point. Say I send a package via UPS, they text me the tracking number, follow ups about where the packages is, and when I can expect it. Sometimes there's a glitch or sometimes something goes wrong along the way. And while I'm not happy about it, at least I know what's going on. Applying for a job is a million times worse, nine times out of ten, the follow up is harsh and by harsh, I mean, you don't hear anything. Nothing. This isn't a sweater or a pair of jeans, it's my livelihood. I want to know the status of my application. Was it lost in the shuffle? Was the form I completed online done incorrectly or wrong? Did I miss something? They certainly wanted to know everything about me. I mean everything. When will they get back to me with their next steps? Probably not. Probably never, you know, even a rejection email is better than nothing at all. It it just feels like there's this, like, huge wall between me and the HR department, and I've always considered myself to be a professional, but I'm being treated like a peon. Well, then again, maybe it's just that I'm not a good fit for them or any other company. And that's really getting me down. Maybe if I felt more in control of the situation, if I knew what was going on, I would feel better about these companies and, you know, myself. Just where's the kindness in any of this? Where's the joy?
Debbie [00:11:23] Whew that was heavy. Kristin, you're right, where is the joy? When we originally ran The JOY Podcast by the Talent Board's very own Kevin Grossman, he bluntly stated there is little to no joy today in recruiting. Only one candidate will land the job. And even that candidate doesn't always feel joy in the process. Rejection is even harder and it's rarely a positive experience. But it doesn't have to be humiliating. It doesn't need to be undignified candidates. And can we just call them what they are? People, people deserve to be treated better. This is a vulnerable time in their lives and they've trusted us in such a vulnerable state. We have no idea what is driving them in this job search. What is the promotion that they're hoping to get or what is it that's going to change if they get out of their current job situation? Or what does it mean to them to get back to work and bring in some income for their family? It's important for us to keep in mind, as the research stated, the sheer number of candidates who you, employers, are rejecting on a daily basis during the recruiting process that can quickly impact your business. It can quickly impact your brand. So let's give those candidates an experience that fits your culture, that fits the nature of your business. The candidates may not thank you, but they'll appreciate how they were treated. And in the process, your brand's reputation stays intact. You know, another data point that I go back to in the research paper, thank you again, Talent Board for doing such great research, is unfortunately, thirty three percent of the candidates told us that they had not heard back from employers after two months after they had applied. That's up ten percent from 2019. So congratulations for doing a little bit better, but there is a lot of room for improvement. The research also shows a clear and definitive yet personal automated rejection email is all we need to move the needle here. If your application and your hiring process is still on the clunky, convoluted side, side note, it shouldn't be, but let's give them an encouraging heads up so that they feel like you are pulling for them, that you believe in them, that you were there with them in that process. It will come across as empathetic instead of you coming across as aloof. Even better, if you have the right technology, you can make this happen at scale, and that means that the bulk of it can get done automatically without taking up your recruiters' time. Nestle Purina is such a great example of this, after you finish listening to this podcast, go out, Google Nestle Purina ERE article. You will get all of the details of this story, we'll probably have them on to even discuss it on a future podcast. But they leverage Symphony Talent's technology to improve the transparency with their talent pipelines. They have a really strong, dog centric culture. You know, think about it. Bring your dog to work. We're creating dog food. We love pets. We want the best for our pets. And they use that culture to attract the right talent. And then they give those insiders, those that have joined their talent community, that have raised their hand and said, yes, I want to know more about Nestle Purina. They give them first knowledge to open positions before they go to advertising, before they start looking external. And this has really reduced their advertising spend, it's reduced their need to communicate to the masses and it makes their talent feel included like they belong to something, like they are wanted. Oh, and side impact their hiring managers are happy because their roles are filled faster because they're in better communication with their recruiters, because their recruiters have time to spend with their hiring managers, really refining the process. So hopefully that gives some of you that are on the call today small, actionable things that you can do to improve that communication so that we can reduce the anxiety that our candidates are feeling like Kristin on the phone. So thank you, Kristin. All right. Let's move on. We'll take our final caller. Cedric, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?
Cedric (talent leader) [00:16:05] It's always our intention to deliver a dignified candidate experience, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with them. And when it's all said and done, even the best intentions are just that, intentions. With all that's going on around us right now, it's tougher than ever. Our frontline recruiters have all they can do just to keep up with the routine stuff, let alone help guide candidates through a positive journey. I feel their frustration. Never enough time, always in reactive mode. But imagine being on the other side, being a candidate, all the potentially good hires, potentially good people who simply slip through the cracks or just plain gave up. Can I blame them? After all, the career section of our site is stale, impersonal, second rate and out of sync with the way we promote the rest of the company as a leading edge. It's as if no one's looked at it in years. We talk at the candidate and not to them, a one sided conversation all about how great we are. What does that say about how we value the contributions of our people? What does that say about our culture? Recruiters don't have enough tools to build relationships. The website is generic and out of date. The upshot is that the candidate is suffering. They're not just disappointed by the experience. They're ignored, humiliated by it, and more and more alienated. Where's the joy in all of this? We need to get our act together. The sooner the better.
Debbie [00:17:46] I know our listeners can relate. In my first five years at SmashFly, one thing that I learned probably more than anything is that technology is not enough. Companies can have access to the best technology on the market, but if it isn't implemented thoughtfully, if you don't have the right expertise internally to maintain the freshness, and if you don't have that change management piece in place to help drive adoption, the best technology will not improve your experience. Instead, oftentimes it has the reverse impact. It hurts the experience. It makes it harder for recruiters. It makes it more convoluted for your candidates, and it hurts both sides of the equation. So my my biggest recommendation, Cedric, is find the right partner who can help you define the experience you want first and then create and bring it to life through the technology that they provide. In my opinion, that really was a game changer for us at SmashFly when we were acquired by Symphony Talent. Symphony Talent had a rich history in bringing employment brand and recruitment marketing to life, and that helped fill the gaps for our customers that they have around employment brand management, recruitment marketing, execution to really bring the technology to life and execute it in the best way possible for the candidates. So let's take baby steps, right, just knowing a little bit of information about a company's culture, career opportunities and the hiring process is enough from the research to keep most candidates engaged or at least thinking positively about the brand. So if your company promises to give a candidate a specific type of response in a specific time frame, hold true to that promise, even if that's a week, two weeks, three weeks, let them know and then deliver on it. At least they don't feel rejected or ignored or abandoned or sitting in a black hole. And they'll appreciate that communication. Even if they don't end up being interviewed or getting hired. They're not left out there hanging, wondering what happened. And they can move on with their lives. Candidates want to understand what is involved in the hiring process and whether or not they will be moving forward in that process. The key becomes when you're able to deliver on that message at scale, right, if you are doing small scale hiring, you just are working a couple of requisitions with low volumes of applicants. It's still not the fun part of the process, but it's manageable. But when you start to increase that, when you've got hundreds of roles open, thousands of roles open, tens of thousands of roles open, you certainly don't want your recruiters dashing off to their computers, sending emails, sending text messages, trying to do all of this communication manually. Using technology really is the only practical way to do this at scale. And specifically applying artificial intelligence into that technology is how you do it at scale in a personalized and tailored way to each individual so that they feel like there is a real human back there thinking about them and concentrating on them. With multiple points of contact in their journey, no matter the outcome, your candidate will think, wow, that was thoughtful. Not, oof that was that was awful. So once you've learned to crawl, once we've taken those baby steps, measure the impact. And then start to learn, refine, improve until you are at the point where you can take that crawl to the walk. Now you're running and you're ready for the marathon. So thank you, Cedric, for your call. Thank you for all of our callers today. And thank you to our listeners for joining us on this journey of yes, we always like to close each segment with the best actionable takeaway for how brands can pursue their own journey of yes and bring joy back to the recruiting experience in order to deliver a better candidate experience. So today, our takeaway from this year's report from today's segment is take baby steps. Those baby steps will make a vast difference in the candidate's view of your brand and your organization. Have empathy for those that you were interacting with. We are all human. We all deserve a more joyful experience, both candidates and recruiters. And we believe at Symphony Talent, that technology is going to help us enable that. So thank you all for listening to this podcast. Recording is available now on our website at resources.symphonytalent.com/the-joy-pipeline. Thank you all. And we'll talk soon. Until next episode. This is Debbie.