Posted on Thursday 30 August 2018 by Ulster Business

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When was the last time you searched for a job at your own company? writes John Moore, managing director of Hays Northern Ireland.

That might sound like a strange question, but we know from our research that most senior managers and executives are only able to spend limited time on any given recruitment process.

The assumption for many of them is that, if we’ve managed to fill the roles advertised, then the process must be great. But in Hays’ recently published What Workers Want Report for 2018, it became clear that the experience employers think they offer differs greatly from the experience of candidates.

The report, which is based on a survey of 766 professionals and employers in Northern Ireland (and 14,000 nationally), found that 65% of employers believed their organisations offered a good or excellent application experience to candidates. That compared to only 55% of candidates.

What some employers forget is that the applicant journey starts before they choose to engage with you. Some 67% of respondents said negative employee or applicant feedback on third party employer review sites has discouraged them from applying to an organisation.

This would be less worrying if employers were confident in their reputation in the market, but only 54% of employers felt they had a clearly defined employer brand (75% of applicants are more likely to apply to a company whose brand they are familiar with).
Assuming you’ve got a good reputation, the next crucial step is to invest in getting the online experience right for applicants. Perhaps unsurprisingly more than 40% of people said they are most likely to look for jobs in the evenings or at weekends and 55% said that’s when they apply. The online application experience is crucial – with 47% of applicants saying they have given up on applying for roles if the process is too complicated.

Almost 62% of people said it was important or very important that there was a person to contact during the application submittal process. For many SMEs an online application process isn’t an option, but in those cases employers must have a point of contact available for people to ask questions.

The Northern Ireland employers who are most successful at hiring talent are those who make a good first impression on candidates and present their organisations in the best possible light - from initial research, to the online application, interview and onboarding.

Almost two thirds of job applicants say they have been put off joining a prospective employer because of a bad experience at the interview stage, with the main complaints being that the process took too long (38%), there was a lack of structure to the interview process or interviewers were poorly prepared (43%) or because the role is substantially different to the job advertised (37%).

But perhaps tellingly, the report found that a poorly managed applicant experience can also create staff retention problems, as nearly half (47%) of employees have left at least one new job within the first 12 months because it didn’t meet expectations set during the application process.

In today’s intensely competitive market, the challenge isn’t just finding prospective candidates, it’s keeping them engaged throughout the entire application process to the point of hire and beyond. Our findings show that many organisations are letting future talent slip through their fingers as applicants experience frustrations and delays throughout the process or leave the role early in their employment.

Organisations need to scrutinise their applicant journey and invest both time and resources into addressing the issues potential employees experience when applying for roles. ■

To request a copy of the Hays What Workers Want report visit  www.hays.co.uk/what-workers-want

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