While candidate experience is impacted by every aspect of recruiting, the number one recruiting focus for 2020 will be employer branding. In fact, 81% of all global companies we surveyed at the end of 2019 reported this (although it varies by region — see Table 2). Over a third of the 250 participating employers in the 2019 Global Talent Board Candidate Experience Benchmark Research, including large and small employers from across industries, responded to our brief “CandE Recruiting Focus 2020” survey.
Unemployment is at the lowest it’s been for decades. Employers are struggling to fill highly sought-after positions. Candidates are ghosting employers more than ever because better paying opportunities abound. Competitive differentiation is more critical than ever, and that starts with an employer’s brand appeal, culture, career development opportunities, and giving employees a reason to work — and stay — at your company.
Every year we work with hundreds of organizations who are working hard on improving their recruiting processes and ultimately their candidate experience. And for good reason: Talent Board has increasingly focused on the business impact of candidate experience from pre-application to onboarding. Candidates who believe they have had a “negative” overall experience tell us every year they will take their alliance, product purchases and business relationship somewhere else. This means a potential loss of revenue for consumer-based businesses, referral networks for all companies and determines whether or not future-fit and silver-medalist candidates will apply again.
Employers can’t hide from a negative candidate experience because those experiencing it are willing to share with their inner circles, people they trust and talk with every day, as well as publicly online in the form of employer reviews and social media posts.
However, the good news is that those who had a “great” overall experience say they’ll definitely increase their employer relationships – they’ll apply again, refer others and make purchases and/or influence purchases when applicable. These aren’t just the job finalists either, or those hired, but the majority are individuals who research and apply for jobs but who aren’t hired. And these are the candidates willing to share their positive experiences with their inner circles and publicly online.
What’s important to keep in mind is that the sheer number of candidates employers reject during the recruiting process can quickly impact the business and the brand, both positively and negatively. This is not to say that those hired aren’t important to the business. Of course they are — they’re the individuals who help grow and sustain the business. And while all candidates, hired or not, can impact how the business is perceived by other potential candidates, it’s those not hired that need more attention paid to their perceived overall candidate experience.
We explored the primary recruiting initiatives employers would be focused on in 2020 by surveying employers as part of our benchmark research. These questions included:
- Where does your organization primarily hire? (North America, EMEA, APAC and/or Latin America)
- What primary recruiting initiatives/activities will your talent acquisition team focus on in 2020? (multiple choices)
- How will you accomplish these recruiting initiatives/activities in 2020? (multiple choices)
Most of the companies that responded said they hire in North America, followed by EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), APAC (Asia-Pacific) and Latin America (see Table 1).
Table 1. Where CandE Employers Hire Globally
The primary recruiting initiatives/activities their talent acquisition teams will focus on in 2020 again by region ranged from employer branding to candidate experience to diversity and inclusion to new technology implementation (see Table 2).
Table 2. Primary Recruiting Initiatives/Activities Focused in 2020 Globally (Partial)
It’s important to note that the “other” entries included:
- Centralized Recruiting
- Video Interviewing
- Text Recruiting
- Increased Personalized Communication
Globally, candidate experience, employer branding and recruitment marketing are the top three recruiting focuses for 2020, underscoring the competitive talent landscape today and why talent acquisition must be targeted. Analytics and data management and diversity and inclusion were also top focuses for employers worldwide.
Assessments and tests will be a higher priority in APAC than anywhere else, and internal mobility will be a higher priority in North America and EMEA. Latin America will see a spike in new technology implementation, a trend we’ll continue to explore t in 2020. Structured interview training will also see a spike in Latin America. Regulatory compliance will be a higher priority in APAC and Latin American than North America and EMEA (not shown in table), mostly due to the ever-expanding GDPR compliance originating in Europe the year prior.
How will employers accomplish these recruiting initiatives/activities in 2020? The answers come down to using a variety of methods, including overwhelmingly improved processes and efficiencies, followed by new technologies, current staffing and more (see Table 3).
Table 3. How Global Employers Plan on Accomplishing These 2020 Recruiting Initiatives/Activities
As shown above, technology is always important to empowering good recruiting processes and practices and why new and current technologies are vital to how employers are going to enact their 2020 initiatives. EMEA, APAC and Latin American will increase staffing, as well as invest in more recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to accomplish their goals.
Figures 4 and 5 were employer responses from our 2019 benchmark research, which included all 250 global employers. Video job descriptions were overwhelmingly the primary technology investment for 2020, and job-description optimizations were the next big investment, with the exception of Latin America (only 11 companies hiring in Latin America participated for the first time in 2019). Also, text-based recruiting, predictive analytics and interview scheduling will be important for companies in 2020 (see Table 4). We also see a spike for video interviewing and onboarding in EMEA for 2020 and onboarding in Latin America for 2020.
Table 4. Primary Areas Where Global Companies Plan to Purchase External (3rd-party) Technology Solutions to Improve Recruiting in 2020 (Partial List)
It’s also important to note how artificial intelligence and other smart technologies are helping employers improve recruiting (see Table 5). We saw a 100% increase in utilizing chatbots on career sites in 2019, and around the globe employers will be investing in chatbots in 2020. More employers realize that a competitive differentiator is communicating earlier with candidates, even before they apply. Chatbots are being used to answer general employment questions, and this frees up the recruiting teams to have more hands-on time with potential candidates already in play.
Improving sourcing efficiencies with smart technologies will also be important in 2020 as well as understanding accurately the positive and negative themes and trends gleaned from candidate feedback. Being able to predict whether current employees might be flight risks will be a priority for improving retention and the internal candidate experience.
Table 5. Primary Areas Where Global Companies Plan to Purchase Artificial Intelligence Technology Solutions to Improve Recruiting in 2020 (Partial List)
However, it’s important to note that improving processes and efficiencies first, before purchasing new technologies or optimizing current tech, must be the priority. Otherwise, employers could just be enhancing bad recruiting practices. In addition, when communication and feedback gaps can be enhanced by technology where there was little to no communication previously, particularly in the pre-application, application and early screening/interviewing stages, then the overall candidate perceived fairness and positive ratings can be increased.
But focusing on recruitment comes down to the potential business impact. While we have increasingly been focused on the business impact of candidate experience from pre-application to onboarding, the bad news is that candidates resentment continues to trend upward around the world, with the biggest increase of 40% in North America since 2016. The good news is that the willingness of candidates to increase their relationship with an employer has also trended upwards globally since 2016, although modestly compared to the resentment rate.
Improving recruiting and the candidate experience is always a work in progress and the hardest part is sustaining it over time. Kudos to the CandE-winning companies that are doing and here’s to continued success in 2020! Pre-register for the 2019 North American CandE Benchmark Research Report here. The EMEA, APAC and Latin America 2019 reports will be ready in early 2020.
The 2020 CandE Benchmark Research Program opens up in January, so we look forward to your participation!
Kevin W. Grossman
President and Board Member