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Candidates want to know you, plain and simple

Jenny O'Malley - PathMotion

We can decorate our career sites with as many bells and whistles as we want, but the fact of the matter is that candidates just want to know the ins and outs of a company before they apply. 

The candidate experience begins well before the interview process, starting at the pre-application stage if not earlier as a consumer. This stage is where candidates come to know a company; it’s values, message, culture and so on. What they understand about a company here influences their decision to later apply, making this phase vital in attracting and informing top talent. 

So, if all a career site has is generic statements and corporate photos on company culture, what does this actually reveal about the employer? Really nothing at all. Candidates cannot decipher what a company stands for from this alone or what the workplace realities would be. As less than 1 in 10 businesses effectively communicate their achievements to the press, proving inadequate information means candidates cannot easily buy into company values or picture themselves fitting into the work environment. They need relevant and engaging content to stimulate their imagination and help inform their decision to apply.

They don’t beat around the bush anymore – neither should you

A lack of material will not deter highly motivated candidates from getting the intel they want. Our research has found that candidates are motivated in getting to know a business, seen through asking employers questions on wide ranging topics, with non-traditional subjects such as interview tips, diversity, and salary accounting for 50% of all candidate questions. Topics that were once considered taboo are now fair game in today’s recruitment landscape and are vital in helping candidates understand who an employer is.

The candidates who venture into these territories are not the only ones who profit from it. Other potential applicants are also benefiting from their questions, as we see question views soar well above the amount of questions asked on certain topics. For example in the telecommunication industry, we found that while only 4.4% of candidate questions were related to interview tips, these questions were viewed 13.5% of the time, making them the highest viewed questions over any other topic. Similarly in the consulting industry, we found that 3.9% of questions were regarding company culture and yet these were viewed 11.8% of the time. It seems that even though not all are bold enough to ask the question, everyone is indeed interested in knowing the answer.

With ‘taboo’ topics having so much popularity, the benefits of participating in this era of openness are not to be dismissed. Providing in-depth information on all company practices dynamises recruitment content, thus benefiting both candidate and employer. Our clients, through being candid with their potential applicants, now have engaging content on their career sites that will give them a greater competitive positioning as well as improve their candidates’ knowledge and experience.

Here is an example of an interesting candidate question being answered:

Q – “Tell me some stories of things you do to make LGBT employees feel at ease at work?”

A – “We have an engaged LGBT+ community at the bank, supported by our Embrace people network which is run by my colleague across the bank. Activities range from informal networking (through lockdown, we are having weekly ‘coffee and chat’ sessions that anyone can drop in to) to awareness-raising events (virtual Pride events this year up and down the country) to more strategic activity such as working closely with HR to review policies and processes and ensure they are inclusive.The network was instrumental in 2018 in helping HR create our Gender identity & expression policy, for example. The network also plays a successful role in encouraging allyship across the bank and championing inclusion for everyone. We partner with external LGBT+ organisations such as Stonewall, MyGwork and INvolve to provide additional support and to keep our approach as up-to-date as possible.”

It is safe to say, so long as candidates continue to desire information on all aspects of an organisation (and are up front about it), employers must properly equip themselves to monitor and answer incoming questions directly to satisfy their need for knowledge.

Why do candidates want in-depth knowledge of your company?

Before we understand how to appropriately unveil a company’s true ethos, we must understand why candidates want to know it in the first place.

First and foremost, candidates know what they want and do not want. Unlike previous generations, it appears that millennials, who now comprise the majority of the workforce, are uncompromising in what they want from an employer: 

  • 80% would turn down a job that did not offer flexible working
  • 52% said opportunities for career progression makes an employer attractive
  • 76% of women said they would be more likely to apply for a job at a company that offers paid parental leave, with 86% of younger women (25-34) viewing a company in a positive light if they have this benefit
  • Half of millennials and gen-z said that stress is a valid reason to ask for time off, suggesting that employers showing mental health awareness is a top priority

These are just a few things that candidates desire from a company. Increased standards for employers may be due to candidates knowing the realities of a lackluster workplace. Instances of ageism under 45, biases towards gender, race and disability, and mental health problems at work all leave cause for concern over companies’ practices and culture.

With this to consider, choosing which company to work for is no run-of-the-mill decision. Candidates stay firm on what they want as they know what can happen if they do not. The role of the employer is to provide insight into workplace realities to assure candidates of strong or improving practises in a bid to positively influence their application decision.

Open up and get talking 

It is important to be as transparent as possible with candidates at every opportunity. The only way candidates can get to truly know a company is through open conversations which can, and more easily, be facilitated by us, the employer. It is down to employers to encourage an open environment where candidates can ask their burning questions if needed.

On average, candidates spend over 5 hours per week, during the course of the typical 2.5 months it takes to find employment, job searching. That is potentially 50 hours spent on looking for the right company and the right job. Meaning, organisations need to get their information out as quickly, easily and accurately as possible for candidates to consider. They cannot afford to spend more time seeking out company information that is not already available to them. Now is the time for employers to open up on a granular level to enhance candidate knowledge on their company and answer candidate questions before they have to ask.

To date, potential applicants are not receiving nearly as much information as they would like which we can help change. 50% of candidate questions go unanswered, rising by 40% during the early stages of COVID, making it no surprise that 66% of candidates are having to conduct their own research on a company. Addressing candidate questions can help bridge this content gap and prevent candidates from tediously researching a company on third party platforms, which can lead to a host of issues in itself

Therefore if the content gap is left unchecked, a candidate not knowing enough about who a company is can, at the extreme end, have disastrous consequences. 19% of workers admit to turning down a job after signing an official offer, with 17% of these people citing this was due to discovering new information about a company’s culture which changed their mind. This is a loss of talent which cannot be afforded.

How can you best show off your company as a top employer?

Detailing a company’s message and practices to potentially thousands of people all while trying to make it feel personal is tricky. So how can you achieve this? None of us can blindly buy into values, we need something tangible to hold onto and reference, and in recruitment this ‘something’ is people. More specifically, employees.

Employee stories are a goldmine for employers and are usually an untapped resource. At PathMotion, we have seen the limitless value these stories have in effectively communicating company information, giving the credibility candidates are seeking and providing a constant stream of engaging content.

The stats are here to prove it:

  • Facts imbedded in stories are 22x more likely to be remembered
  • Employee stories are 20% more immersive than career sites alone
  • 41% of candidates said their preferred marketing content is employee testimonials
  • Almost 30% of candidates want more insight into why employees wanted to work for their current company and why they are staying

We are helping our clients to leverage employee stories in their talent attraction and employer branding efforts by connecting candidates straight to employee insiders, through our discussion platform and other services such as our chatbot, live q&a events and social media integrations. With 98% of candidates saying they planned to apply after attending one of our live chat events, the benefits of using employee stories are clear. 

The bottom line

Not letting candidates truly know our business (pun intended) can lead to a poor candidate experience and the toll of a lacklustre candidate journey can be costly. It impedes on employer branding, acquisition of top talent, and consumer trust to name a few.

For example, Virgin Media and Ph.Creative’s case study found that Virgin Media was losing more than $6 million of revenue a year in consequence of poor candidate experiences. The friction between the great customer service Virgin Media provided and the poor candidate experience it gave meant that disgruntled candidates (approximately 7,500 of them) promptly ended and changed their contracts to support Virgin Media’s competitors. 

With all this being said, we must remember that candidates simply want to know our organisation and employees have the unique ability of making company information personable and digestible, a trait which should not be overlooked. They allow candidates to understand a company far better than any other kind of marketing material and should be used sooner rather than later.

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