Between December 2021 and February this year, job vacancies rose to record highs. In this 3 month period, data shows that there were 1.3 million open vacancies. Unsurprisingly, this demand was weighted heavily toward the tech sector.  Throughout the pandemic, many businesses witnessed firsthand the power of digital.

Countless businesses and jobs were saved by pivoting to online models and going ‘digital’.

The shift we saw over the pandemic was stark. In 2019, UK tech startups employed almost 3 million people. Today, that figure is nearing 5 million.

In 2022 tech vacancies are 42% higher than they were pre-pandemic. This of course is great news if you’re a tech candidate looking for new jobs. However, it appears not many are.

Candidate scarcity, especially in the permanent sector is creating significant problems for employers wanting to boost their tech teams. Demand outweighs supply, and there are battles for tech talent emerging across every industry sector. Salaries are higher than ever before as companies try to attract digital talent over their competitors.

In such a competitive market, how can organisations stand out among their peers? Of course, salary and a lovely benefits package are one way, but these shiny incentives will only carry you so far.

If you are struggling to attract the right digital crowd, you might like to consider how your process is hindering your efforts.  Maybe now is the time to remodel your candidate experience.

Here are some ways you can adjust your candidate experience and stand out to digital talent for all the right reasons.

Timing is critical.

60% of job applicants leave an application process because it’s too lengthy and complex.  So, it’s important to make sure that the process at every stage is slick and simple, yet considered. Similarly, if a candidate feels the process is too fast they may not feel like they know you well enough to decide on an offer.

Some research suggests that the optimum time for a candidate to be in process is 30 days from the date they submitted their CV. Candidates who are left waiting up to 49 days are more likely to reject an offer – even if it comes. Interestingly, the same body of research highlights that candidates offered a job after 21 days are just as likely to accept as at 30 days. However, those offered early are far less likely to start.

Give feedback.

52% of candidates who receive meaningful feedback from an employer would continue a relationship with that organisation…even if they were unsuccessful.

Offering feedback as part of the candidate experience is even more important when you consider that not many are doing it!

Only 7% of candidates report that they have received a phone call following a rejection, while 77% say they have been ghosted by a prospective employer.

Companies wishing to stand out in this market should aim for a spotless reputation.  Social media and review platforms have never been more widely used to discredit businesses that offer a poor candidate experience. Good (and bad) news travels fast; 72% of candidates will share their experiences online.

Feedback works both ways. By asking for candidate feedback on your processes, you’ll demonstrate a desire to do better. While implementing any common actionable suggestions will improve your recruitment practices.

two casually dressed women sit talking across a table

Use your hiring managers.

Research from Microsoft has shown that hiring managers play a huge part in the successful onboarding, induction, and retention of new starters. New starters who were supported by an active hiring manager were 3.5 x more likely to say they were happy with their onboarding. They were also far less likely to leave a new job prematurely.

To put this into context, less than ½ of the new hires interviewed received a phone call from the hiring manager before starting.  We’d argue this is a critical period in which candidates get cold feet or even other job offers. A simple phone call keeps a candidate motivated and excited to start a new job. Without it, the chances of losing them to a competitor are high…especially in such a candidate-driven market.

Be transparent and responsive.

Candidates want to know if they are in with a genuine shot. You can improve your candidate experience by being clear from the beginning about your expectations.

48% of applicants respond positively to receiving information about the interview and the recruitment process.

Employers should be clear about the stages, the decision-makers, and the hiring timeline from the outset.

This sets your candidates up for success and helps them to prepare. Regular communication is key, as is managing expectations. These simple steps will you’re your candidates engaged as they go through each stage.

It’s also important to be transparent. This includes clear job descriptions and salary details. As the world of work moves toward hybrid, remote and flexible patterns, employers must be careful to really drill down on what this means to them. The term “flexible” working is vague and covers many different practices.

Laying out your expectations from the beginning will help attract and retain the right digital talent.

Read more about the variations of flexible working here.

Young female bites down on her pencil in frustration

Inclusive recruitment practices.

Offering ethical, fair and inclusive recruitment practices is the right thing to do. They also widen the talent pool and are critical to today’s candidates.

Equal, diversity, and inclusive (EDI) practices are a game changer in terms of attracting the digital talent you want. 67% of candidates place intentional EDI statements as “high” on their list of Must Haves. 1 in 3 would not apply to an organisation that doesn’t have a diverse workforce.

For more advice on creating a diverse recruitment process, read our recent blog here.

What is your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)?

What do you stand for and who are you?

If you really want to attract candidates who align with your business values and culture, the best time to demonstrate these is during the recruitment journey.

By weaving in an authentic sense of your brand, candidates will see you practice what you preach. Wearing your core culture, values, and ethos on your sleeve will ensure that those who buy in are really “in”.

This EVP journey should begin even before you post your job description.

Recruitment has never been more like marketing; selling your brand is critical to attracting the digital talent you need.

Your EVP should be part of the process. This means investing time to conduct office tours and even hosting talent events to whet the appetites of eager applicants. This allows candidates to see behind the doors of your business and get a feel for the culture. Help candidates envisage what it might be like to work for you one day.

The quick takeaways.

  • The candidate experience is critical to securing top digital talent.
  • Employers should invest time in ensuring the timings of its process are considered and instill confidence in the applicant.
  • Feedback should be both offered and invited.
  • Use hiring managers as part of the onboarding and induction process.
  • Be clear from the start. Transparent and clear information is important to candidates.
  • Offer an inclusive recruitment process.
  • Think about your EVP. Who are you and what do you stand for? Weave your core values into your candidate experience.

Are you an employer looking to scale your tech team? We can help to find out why you should partner with Ignite Digital for your tech, digital, or data talent needs.

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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