From human resources’ focus on the candidate experience to new technologies that make “smart” recommendations, it’s a personalized world — and recruiters are just living in it.
Services such as Netflix, Amazon and DoorDash learn what a user likes to watch, buy or eat, then tailor their suggestions accordingly — and people are beginning to expect this level of individual attention everywhere. To start winning at candidate interactions, recruiters must focus on candidate personalization throughout the hiring process. Here’s how to do it:
Your relationships with candidates revolve around communication, and determining their preferences here is key.William Tincup, President of RecruitingDaily
Determine how candidates want to communicate
There’s a system in place for every step of the recruiting process: from the top on down. But that doesn’t mean that’s how candidates want things to go, and too often, these systems just get in the way. A big part of personalization requires meeting candidates where they are — not the other way around.
Your relationships with candidates revolve around communication, and determining their preferences here is key. Say your current system only uses email to connect with candidates, but one candidate prefers text messaging. If you aren’t aware that they don’t check their email, it’s possible they won’t see your messages — and both of you may think you’re being ghosted.
Don’t force candidates to comply with systems that don’t work for them; instead, find out how they want to communicate and tailor your approach. That might mean adopting new systems to supplement what’s currently in place, and that’s okay. Chances are, other candidates with similar preferences will come along, making the investment worth it in the long run.
Systems are there to guide candidates and recruiters, not confine them. If that means taking charge, usurping the usual protocol and reaching out to candidates directly — go for it. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll win extra favor.
Without realizing it, recruiters often assign candidates unwanted homework, which can lead to resentment.William Tincup, President of RecruitingDaily
Ask questions and refine over time
Personalization is an expectation in a responsive world. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. Finding out how a candidate wants to communicate is just the first step. Other conversations and interactions need to take place in order to optimize personalization.
Think about going to a diner. On your first time in, the establishment doesn’t know anything about you — how you like their eggs or take your coffee. But after a few visits, a relationship starts to build, and your standard order of scrambled eggs with cheese, no toast and black coffee becomes a given. The same is true of candidate personalization: At first, you aren’t aware they don’t listen to voicemail or use an online calendar. Without realizing it, recruiters often assign candidates unwanted homework, which can lead to resentment.
Include questions at each stage of the recruiting process, providing options for the candidate as a server would for a customer. Would they prefer to schedule the interview through your calendaring app, or should you send them a text with a few options? Do they want to send application materials directly to you, or submit them through the online portal? How would they like to hear back about a follow-up? Give candidates the freedom to make the selection, and make a note of their choice when responding.
To win at personalization, recruiters must remain in relentless pursuit of candidates' needs over theirs.William Tincup, President of RecruitingDaily
Anticipate needs and adjust your approach
As the relationship between recruiter and candidate progresses, anticipating their needs becomes increasingly important. Like the server at the diner, keep an eye on their coffee cup to see when they might need a refill — but don’t make assumptions. They might opt for something else after a round or two, and you must remain flexible. Perhaps their communication needs change due to an unforeseen situation. If that happens, don’t keep calling when they’ve asked for texts.
Candidates want to feel like they are in control of their job search, and defining their own success. To win at personalization, recruiters must remain in relentless pursuit of candidates’ needs over theirs. That requires intuition, wayfinding and communication across stakeholders and systems, and retooling each situation to put the candidate first — even when things go wrong.
There’s always the possibility that a server will drop a tray of food as they approach a table. But it’s what they do afterward that the customer will remember. The same goes for recruiters: even if the candidate doesn’t get the job, for example, maintaining a strong relationship can lead to a great hire for a different position down the road.
Find out more about candidates at the outset of each engagement to tailor each experience. Then keep asking questions to know when preferences change, or they’ve had enough. It’s a balancing act: just like the most important meal of the day.
William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.