Talent acquisition: trends, COVID 19 and the candidate journey

5 minutes read
By Ammara Naeem, Senior HR Auditor,Top Employers Institute
As a strategic and pro-active process, talent acquisition is being shaped and changed in response to the global health crisis. Whether your organisation is experiencing a hiring freeze, or searching for innovative ways to retain as many employees as possible, engaging talent shouldn’t be left on the back burner. Read more to learn what Top Employers are currently doing to make their employer brand stand out and to offer a streamlined candidate experience.

As you’re scrolling through LinkedIn, you see an article on a topic that piques your interest. You read it and then start to look deeper: who wrote it, where do they work? You explore the organisation’s website and social media. Voila! You’ve found your dream workplace.

Sadly, they don’t have any suitable positions that you can apply for now. How do you stay connected? How does the organisation keep you, a prospective future candidate hooked?

This is where talent acquisition begins – not with a job posting, or your recruitment agency.   

Among leading organisations, 69% of Top Employers maintain candidate communities to engage interested candidates for potential future opportunities. How such communities are run varies from one organisation to another, but they all keep candidates close, informed and engaged.

Your existing employees also form a talent pool, and strategically talent acquisition should be linked with their career development.

Trends in talent acquisition

It’s not surprising that technology, big data and analytics have been the most influential trends. Most organisations within specific industries are all looking for similar skills and competencies. The talent pool you’re fishing in becomes much more crowded with competitors. This has led to the need to create a strategy and competitive advantage specific to your recruitment process to stay ahead of the game.

Looking at leading organisations, 84% of Top Employers globally take measures to align their talent acquisition policies, processes, and systems with their EVP to make them stand out and offer a streamlined experience.

Much like corporate branding and marketing, in which your product or service needs to stand out to attract customers, now your organisation needs to market itself to top talent. 

COVID 19 and talent acquisition

Currently, many organisations have placed a slow-down or even freeze on recruitment. This doesn’t mean that talent acquisition comes to a halt. You may not be hiring now, but you’ll eventually reopen your pipeline for the future. You’ll need to have that pool of candidates ready to tap into when required. To do so, it’s essential to continue strengthening your position as the employer of choice.

The pandemic has brought out an important practice that is part of the Top Employers HR Best Practices Survey: forming external partnerships with other similar organisations or those that are likely to have skills that you might need on a temporary basis. These partnerships add immense value to both parties. You can use your employees’ skills to help a partner in need and in doing so keep job security for your people (especially at a time when jobs could be under threat).

COVID 19 has accelerated the use of technology for talent acquisition. For example, the use of asynchronous video interviewing. Top Employers have demonstrated that having such tooling in place prior to the pandemic placed their organisations in a better position to cope with the sudden changes.

Targeted content and campaigns

Targeted content for branding and attracting candidates is implicitly linked with the candidate experience. Any potential candidate would like to receive updates about your organisation, perhaps about team culture, or what your existing employees have to say about their experience. Our survey data shows that 62% of Top Employers already apply marketing techniques (targeted content, lead nurturing, advanced analytics) to talent acquisition.

We also see that 68% of Top Employers involve existing employees in talent acquisition. This includes having structured talent brand ambassadors programmes, where HR moves beyond collecting employee testimonials towards training their employees to be involved in maintaining the talent communities in question.

Candidate journey mapping

Use of available technology and analytics can help do wonders for talent acquisition. Multiple platforms that exist in the market today allow you to see the type of content, the kind of platform and information that is preferred by the candidates you are interested in (again similar to lead targeting practiced by marketing). Take a step back and think about it: what if you were to use the lessons learned by these divisions and apply them to your employer brand, recruitment, candidate relationship management and engagement?

Through all the activities mentioned so far, the candidate experience sits at the top of priority list for talent acquisition. We see a consistent increase in the number of Top Employers that are focusing their energies on the topic of experience. Indeed, 67% have mapped out touch points from a candidate’s point of view.

Outcomes of such an exercise might appear simple but it requires a thorough inventory of a candidate’s journey through your organisation: what is going right and what needs to be improved at each of those touch points. The little details matter, like timely feedback and communication from screening to assessment to interview phase. Unfortunately, many organisations tend to neglect these stages. But this is where you have the most danger of a top applicant dropping out because their expectations were not met by the experience you offered them. 

Looking forward

With the sweeping adaptations organisations have had to make as a result of the global health crisis, the digitisation of talent acquisition is inevitable. Top Employers are making use of online tools, and ensuring targeted campaigns are in place to keep top talent engaged. Such activities require that touch points (both online and offline) are identified and mapped to help create seamless candidate experience. 

Talent acquisition is so much more than recruitment and thus should be a strategic and pro-active process. It covers the entire candidate journey: from awareness to hire, and an exceptional candidate experience sits at the heart of getting the best skills on board, whether you need them now or in the future.

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Talent acquisition: trends, COVID 19 and the candidate journey

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