Headquartered in Florham Park, N.J., BASF Corporation is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany, with a portfolio organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions.
1. What changes have you made to your candidate experience recently? What improvements are you most proud of? How do you know that your changes are making a difference?
BASF is always looking for ways to improve the experience for our candidates, and we rely heavily on their feedback to guide the changes we make for a more positive experience. Last year, our internal team did a great job of adapting very quickly as we were hit with our new reality. We made the candidate experience much more personal and provided additional touch points to ensure we were providing people with proper expectations and a glimpse inside the walls of BASF from their remote location. This year, we wanted to continue that trend and consider the candidate’s first impression from job description to hire. Given the talent landscape in 2021, BASF turned to the data and insights to guide a path to improve upon our current approach to candidate experience as it relates to talent attraction efforts. As a producer of so many products that aided in the fight against COVID-19, our plants needed to ramp up to keep up with the demand. We found our non-exempt talent pool was limited in many of our locations, and our approach needed to be adjusted with the present-day candidate in the forefront of our minds.
We developed a three-prong approach to target our outreach more effectively while capturing the attention of a new market and engaging and retaining candidates throughout our application process. First, we began to align our posted job ads with SEO keywords to work with job board algorithms to make it easier for candidates to uncover opportunities at BASF. Next, in correlation with candidate search behavior data, we began serving our jobs directly to our candidates with customized digital campaigns and building brand awareness in key markets. Lastly, we identified a mobile friendly and simple application process designed for the convenience of our candidates. To date, we are tracking more applicants per job and yielding more hires per month in some of our toughest locations.
2. Why did you decide to make changes to how candidates were being treated? What data or evidence prompted you to make a change?
Like many companies over the last year, BASF had to face talent shortages in key revenue-producing areas of the company.
To amplify awareness in key markets, we decided to apply principles of consumerization to create marketing campaigns that resonate with the type of talent we are looking for. Once the insights were revealed from our A/B test cases, it allowed us to pinpoint some barriers to entry for our candidates. Immediately, we identified a large drop-off rate in applicants throughout various phases of the process, which led us to design a quicker and easier pathway for applicants.
3. How did you build support and commitment within your team and the broader organization? How did you demonstrate the importance of candidate experience?
BASF is in touch with the importance of the candidate experience and how it can determine the employee experience within the first year. It was a matter of presenting the facts and data to our business units, speaking directly to the importance of candidate experience as a key differentiator in attracting as well as retaining the right talent in today’s market. We presented comments from our candidates directly, which told us what they would like to see next, and followed up with employee surveys to gauge sentiment, which supported the direct relationship between candidate and employee experience. In addition, highlighting the talent landscape that managers are competing in — including a comparison of market share on key platforms — was helpful for providing perspective. These insights made barriers very clear and, based on all of this, we were able to pull together test-case scenarios for some of the toughest parts of the country we recruit in. With each test-case, the number of quality applicants provided within 72 hours far surpassed the candidate pipeline in any job we had posted to date, which led to shorter time to fill and less cost per hire. We were able to prove to our business units that the easier we make the process for our candidates the more likely they are to apply for a job, which in turn led to an abundance of candidates, in the pipeline. Furthermore, we have seen a positive return from our candidates in the CandE survey this year.
4. How do you measure candidate experience? How do you report on your recruiting process? How do you use that data to demonstrate financial impact as well as manage recruiter and hiring manager behaviors?
BASF uses traditional internal and third-party survey responses, like most companies. In addition, we realize the importance of understanding our candidates and how they search for their next career move. We are using a combination of traffic analytics, candidate engagement, brand sentiment data from social media channels and other public platforms to measure and report on our process. We have started to use this data to compare cost and time to hire with our new approach versus our older ways of thinking. We have recently begun to create a training series for our managers to enlighten them on the talent landscape in 2022 and what our candidates are telling us they want to see. We are confident that if we continue to educate our teams, they will continue to see value in making small adjustments to enhance talent attraction and our candidate experience for future BASF prospects.