How Will COVID-19 Impact Candidate Experience?

For many years, the hiring landscape has been characterized as a “candidate-driven market.” But the events of 2020 could represent a reversal of that. At its height, the COVID-19 outbreak led to a U.S. unemployment rate of 14% in April of 2020. With millions of new job seekers flooding the market, employers suddenly have more applicants and ultimately more options.

This begs the question: how will this affect candidate experience?

Candidate experience involves all the touchpoints that a candidate has with an organization throughout the hiring process. It includes everything from the responsiveness of the employer, to how engaging the entire process is for the candidate.

In recent years, candidate experience has taken center stage as one of the most important aspects of the hiring process. Up until recently, the employment market was facing record-low unemployment, forcing employers to compete for candidates amidst a small pool of job seekers. As a result, organizations sought to enhance the candidate experience in order to stand out from the crowd and win over top talent.

But now that there are more job seekers on the market, will organizations remain committed to optimizing the candidate experience? Or will candidate experience be pushed to the wayside?

Candidate experience can and should remain a priority.

Most of the benefits of candidate experience haven’t gone anywhere. Sure, organizations are now getting more applicants and more options, but that was never the only reason to optimize the candidate experience. After all, a good candidate experience enhances your employer brand, ensuring that more future applicants will be interested in applying. It even bolsters your company’s image in the minds of your customers.

Plus, if your organization has already spent time optimizing the candidate experience, then that groundwork shouldn’t just disappear.

When it comes to maintaining a strong candidate experience even during a global pandemic, the foundational best practices are essentially the same. They just require a slightly modified approach. Here are a few ways to keep providing a positive experience to your candidates:

Keep up the communication.

Communication has always been the cornerstone of a strong candidate experience. During COVID-19, communication is equally if not more important.

This goes beyond simply communicating with candidates between each stage of the hiring process. It also involves communicating about changes happening at your organization. Maybe you originally posted a job opening, but the nature of the role has changed. Or maybe it’s about communicating with a candidate that your remote work policy is new and might shift in the next few months. Sometimes it’s simply about communicating with your candidates that you don’t know an answer to their question just now. Times are uncertain, and candidates are likely to appreciate candidness coming from a prospective employer.

Be empathetic.

Your organization is changing as a result of COVID-19, and so are the lives of your candidates. Many people have made major moves to different cities or to live with family. Many people aren’t sure about their living situations in the next 6 months. And many of your candidates may not have access to the best technology at home.

If you’re planning to conduct a largely remote hiring process, be empathetic of any schedule constraints or technology issues that your candidates have. A little empathy and kindness can go a long way in making candidates feel comfortable with your organization as a potential employer.

Rely on technology.

Many times, organizations overlook candidate experience because it can be time-consuming and resource-intensive to optimize it. After all, keeping in regular contact with each candidate, fully communicating the process, and managing each stage of the hiring funnel can be a full-time job. This can be even more daunting when faced with a larger volume of applicants, something that many organizations are currently facing in this hiring market.

However, many of these time-consuming tasks can be automated with HR software solutions, such as an ATS or HRIS. While technology can’t quite create the “human touch” that so many of us crave in the job search process, it can at least give candidates the timely touchpoints they need to know where they stand in the process.

Candidate experience can be difficult. But for most organizations, a lot of the early groundwork has already been done. Don’t let larger applicant pools deter you from providing the positive and rewarding experience that you and your candidates deserve.