How to Improve Your Candidate Recruiting Experience in the Post-COVID World

by Brian Martin on April 7, 2021 in Blog, Hiring Challenges

At the beginning of the pandemic, the increase in layoffs and furloughs made it appear as if there would be an impending shift from a candidate market to an employer’s market. Though there were instances of big tech layoffs last year and already this year, the industry has mostly stabilized with tech unemployment at 3%, fairly below the average unemployment rate of 6.7%.

Since candidates still hold most of the cards, it’s important for your business to create a recruiting process that builds open and respectful relationships with the people you want to hire. Easier said than done, right? If you adhere to the following tips on improving your candidate recruiting experience, you can increase your odds of acquiring exceptional technical talent.

Creating clear job descriptions

Companies that routinely attract top talent aren’t all that different from exceptional chefs. They know how to serve up job descriptions that are eye-catching and bring the most appealing elements to the forefront of any job description. In short, presentation is everything. That doesn’t mean you need to create an in-your-face advertisement or turn your job advertisement into a puzzle (a la Apple). In fact, companies that stick to some basic fundamentals will get better results than those who try too hard to reinvent the wheel.

  • Job titles should be clear – Only Elon Musk can get away with rechristening himself with a title as over-the-top as the “Technoking of Tesla.” If your company tries to adopt quirky or novel titles, you’re far less likely to find anyone you realistically would want to hire. Plus, job seekers are practical, and don’t want to waste their free time learning about positions that might not even align with their experience or career goals.
  • Promote the company and position – The laundry-list approach to job responsibilities is not doing your company any favors. Instead, you need to pique candidates’ interest about upcoming projects, technical stacks and tools, employee benefits, and the impact of your work. Candidates who can envision themselves in your position are more likely to submit an application.

Maintain steady communication

In a Workable survey, 75% of candidates said they never heard back from a company after applying and 60% said they never heard back after the interview process. Though not every candidate is going to be an exceptional fit who is worth hiring, there are some protocols companies need to take seriously for the sake of their own brand reputation. If not, 42% of candidates will not apply with your business in the future – and 22% will actively recommend that people in their network avoid you.

More than just running damage control, there’s a growing need for frequent interaction. Candidates who are actively or passively seeking new opportunities are often on the radar of various HR managers and recruiters all at once. LinkedIn’s #OpenToWork feature notifies recruiters which professionals are willing to make a job change and job boards have made large parts of their search automatic. If you are not engaging with candidates, their attention can and will easily be drawn elsewhere.

What works to retain top IT talent in the funnel? The answers are straightforward but can be difficult to do with a busy schedule and other priorities. Set clear expectations about when decisions will be made and provide a concrete hiring timeline. Answer candidate questions as quickly as possible (shoot for less than 24 hours). Even if there’s no news, check in to see how candidates are doing and stoke the fires of their interest. You won’t regret the effort when you are able to onboard the right person.

Master remote interviewing

Nowadays, we’re all craving face-to-face interactions. It’s part of the reason why video calls have grown in popularity – even if we’re feeling Zoom fatigue as an unwanted side effect. Yes, most people are familiar with the fundamentals, but there are intermediate or even more advanced video interviewing tools that can elevate the proficiency of your hiring process. Here’s how to improve the process:

  • Be aware of your body language – The air of a video call is a bit less familiar and comforting than an in-person interview. The potential hiccups from bad connections or iffy audio can interrupt the natural flow of conversation and any positive energy you’re creating.Because of those issues, it’s important to be intentional about your body language, sending the right signals to keep candidates feeling comfortable. Create a sense of eye contact by occasionally looking at your web camera while maintaining a good upright posture to convey engagement. They’re small actions, but they go a long way to subconsciously putting candidates at ease.
  • Build bonds beforehand – Too often, interviews are treated as if their singular purpose is placing candidates under a microscope and analyzing their suitability for your open position. Yet when done right, job interviews are just as much of an opportunity to learn what the candidate wants and share why your organization can satisfy their goals and needs. To do that, you need to cultivate the right type of energy going into the interview.Set the tone as you schedule the interview, posing it as a two-way conversation where candidates are encouraged to ask questions. If possible, provide them with any material about your culture and benefits ahead of the interview. That way, they can come with questions prepared about any of the information they’ve encounter – some of which they might not have otherwise been able to find.

Accelerating the process

On average, the time-to-hire for tech positions can be about 33 days, which in the current market means that it’s easy to lose out on great candidates. Even though IT unemployment has dropped, there’s enough insecurity about the current market that most candidates will accept a dead-certain opportunity they like over an ambiguous opportunity they love. If you’re going to harness the speed and efficiency necessary to move before the competition, you’ll need to eliminate bottlenecks in the hiring process.

What should be on the chopping block? One pandemic success story gives an idea. When American Airlines was struggling at the height of the pandemic, they helped to redeploy their people with qualified retail partners (think Albertsons Companies, Amazon, CVS Health, and Home Depot). One of the caveats of these partnerships was to waive background checks since AA could vouch for their people. In fact, having a proven source of quality candidates helped the retailers hiring to acquire good people without the usual reviewing effort on their part.

Though you likely don’t have a Fortune 500 ready and waiting to funnel people into your business, you can accelerate much of the vetting process by working with the right IT staffing and consulting experts. Not only should they have an expansive talent pool, but they should be proactive about building real relationships with tech professionals. That can go a long way in filtering out the wrong candidates (more on that below).

A final thought

The heart of improving your candidate recruiting experience is to move away from transactional interactions. If you are setting out to find someone who you want to keep with your organization for a while, you should approach and treat every candidate with the same care you would treat one of your employees (and even if they’re not the right fit and you part ways, you’re still doing great work for your company branding).

In my role as iSphere’s Consultant Care Representative, I see how important candidate satisfaction is in the final placement. My sole priority is getting to know our consultants completely. That means finding out about everything from their job preferences and career goals to their pet peeves, personal passions, and everything in between.

As a result, I can help to supplement the knowledge of our recruiters, allowing the iSphere team not only to figure out if a candidate is a fit for your company, but if your company is a fit for the consultant. When we find that level of alignment, more candidates stay in the recruitment process from start to finish – and within the companies long after we place them.

Want a partner for improving your candidate recruiting experience? Reach out to iSphere. Our recruiters and consultant care representatives funnel the best IT talent into your organization.


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