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How To Personalize The Candidate Experience

When people are looking for a new job, they will have some tried and tested places they start. If you are lucky (as an employer), these folk will discover – or even seek out – your company, and your own website. What happens when they get there?

For most visitors, the careers site experience can be overwhelming. Even if the list of open roles isn’t huge, the information can feel generic and the site is often hard to navigate. Potential candidates want to see how their career might pan out at your company; they want a window into your organization – and, if they aren’t ready to convert right now, they want to receive tailored communications about roles that might be suited to their skills… not generic updates, or suggestions that are completely irrelevant.

For employers, it is critically important to engage talent in the right moments, with the right information, in order to find the highest quality fit. Personalizing the experience for candidates helps with this, and also brings many other benefits – such as removing much of the manual effort from the nurturing process. So how is that achieved?

Gather the right data

The key to personalization is data. Without a solid understanding of who you are talking to, it is going to be tricky to tell them what they want to know. We recommend moving from a careers site to a ‘talent portal’ – a place where people want to sign up to your ‘talent community’, can create an account, and enjoy a logged in experience that uses information about the visitor to deliver personalized content, job recommendations, and inspiring stories about your employer brand.

Meanwhile, a skills-based approach to job descriptions – breaking down jobs into the skills needed and the work to be done – will help you make those tailored matches between candidates and roles.

Keep candidate data fresh

Ideally, you would apply technology to enhance candidate data – for example, using public LinkedIn profiles to understand their career history – and keep it dynamically updated in a centralized talent management system.

You want to ensure that when you deliver content to them in the future (on the site or through emails or other communications) that you are meeting them where they are.

At every touchpoint in the candidate journey, their skills, interests, aspirations and potential should be the driving force behind the conversation.

Embrace explainable AI

The right data, kept up to date and clean, is really the first part of the process. In order to truly personalize the candidate experience at scale, you need explainable AI that can analyze the skills of the individual, and the skills they could be able to pick up, and match those dynamically with opportunities in your organization.

Then you can show recommended roles (whether currently needed or as a way to build pipeline), or send alerts for suitable jobs, knowing that you will be targeting high quality candidates that really ought to apply – and making them feel seen and understood in the process.

It’s worth noting that using explainable AI and automating part of the talent acquisition process, with a skills-based approach, has benefits in terms of reducing human bias and improving diversity.

Offer full control

With changing regulations around AI and data, it’s more important than ever to have a handle on candidate consent, as well as their preferences.

A proper Preference Center, as part of your talent portal, can automate the process of collecting and managing this information – giving you and your legal teams peace of mind around compliance, while giving candidates control of their experience with your employer brand.

Upgrade the Careers Site

Of course your careers site should help immerse the candidate in your company culture, with a compelling company or founder story, and perhaps company values that reflect the work you do.

Think about the candidate’s experience in using your career site: is it optimized for mobile as well as desktop? Is the navigation intuitive? Applying for a role is like a shopping experience: too long to checkout, and no one will stay until the end – and a candidate may well stop and start their search or application. So employing email or text alerts to remind people of previous searches and incomplete applications is a must.

As mentioned, thinking of it as more of a dynamic ‘talent portal’ is useful. You learn about people then can deliver content and recommendations that are most relevant to your candidates: and basically let them ‘source themselves’.

You could also consider displaying different page copy to those who have applied before, for an experience that speaks to them directly.

Stay personal IRL

It’s not all about the digital experience, although technology can help with real life events as well. Candidate events can help you better target niche talent pools and generate leads – think about how you collect the necessary data – to nurture with a targeted email campaign after the event.

With events aimed at campus recruiting, veterans careers fairs, and assessment days you’ll be able to craft a personalized message to that audience, helping prospective employees see how they can add value to your company.

Automate communications

Once you understand your candidates – their skills and preferences – and can use AI to match them with opportunities in your organization, it may be possible to get them to apply to something straight away. However, it’s highly likely that they are not quite in a position to move, or you don’t have the ideal role for them at this exact moment.

Nurturing the talent in your database doesn’t need to be an arduous manual process. With the right technology, you can send targeted communications to segments of your talent pool based on various criteria and trigger moments – all the while using smart templates to include personalized elements.

Consider cultivating relationships with your silver medalists, who didn’t get the role, could be a perfect fit for your company with a little time and training.

Stay responsive

Nothing says ‘impersonal’ like slow, generic responses to applications and enquiries. Maintaining a fast response rate (and transparency with candidates) makes the process more seamless, more personal, and more likely to leave you with a satisfied, engaged employee. Aim to reply to messages within a day, and keep candidates aware if a final decision requires additional time.

You want to be engaging candidates with a welcoming and transparent experience so they feel seen and understood, and motivated to recommend your company to friends and their professional network.

Expand your view

Of course, the principles of smarter data collection, data enrichment, keeping skills data fresh and updated, applying AI to match people and roles based on skills, and letting people ‘serve themselves’ applies just as much to internal talent as to external candidates.

Your employees should be able to find opportunities – for learning and development, as well as roles and gigs – that match their skills and interests… even things they hadn’t considered. They should be able to visualize potential career paths in your business, and luckily this doesn’t have to be a manual process.

As well as using skills data and AI to curate learning and development journeys for your internal talent, you can create a welcoming culture with initiatives like mentoring and coaching to promote knowledge sharing. Any new skills gained can then be automatically added to an employee’s profile… leading to the next personalized recommendation.

You should also think about the talent that’s moved on: your alumni should also form part of your pool of potential candidates.

Talent Lifecycle Management

Embracing a holistic strategy to talent gives you a full view of the candidate experience – which aspects you can personalize, and how you can form a deeper connection.

Technology can help in many areas, and should free up HR teams to spend time on what matters: fully understanding the mindset of your candidates; being responsive, open and making the process as stress-free for them as possible.

Personalizing the talent experience will allow you to reach your most valuable asset, people, as individuals. Give people the career journey that will suit them best, and use AI and skills data to open up new opportunities – opportunities that they may have never even considered.

Personalization also helps you stand out against the competition, engaging candidates for longer periods and embedding them deeply into your company culture.

Learn more about how to personalize the entire talent experience.