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When it comes to the candidate experience, an old adage comes to mind: “Start as you mean to go on.” How you treat candidates is seen as an indication of how you treat your employees. In fact, 75% of candidates say their experience during the hiring process influenced their decision to accept or not accept a job offer.

As recruiters and staffing professionals, we need to focus on improving the candidate experience — from the first sign of interest to onboarding. The key is striking the right balance between technology and human interaction throughout the hiring/placement process. Here are five ways to make that happen:

Use technology to enhance the candidate experience. Using technology to recruit candidates is no longer an option — it’s a requirement. Candidates expect to be able to interact with you online. The good news is technology helps us communicate faster, more accurately and more consistently. It also removes bias and gives candidates the ability to get quick questions answered, often without contacting a resource at your organization.

However, just because there are a lot of technology tools out there, you don’t have to use all of them. Do a thorough assessment of each tech product — examining the business benefits, the implementation implications, and, most of all, the impact on the candidate experience. Technology only works well if it works for the business and the candidate.

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Make human interactions a priority. Despite all the buzz about tech tools, human interaction in the hiring process is more critical than ever. That’s because technology, for all its merits, isn’t very good at interpersonal accuracy (IPA) — the ability to make correct inferences about peoples’ internal states, traits or other personal attributes.

With virtual hiring becoming standard practice, it takes a human to evaluate things like soft skills and culture add potential. After all, when the chosen candidate starts work, they’ll need to be the kind of person that can build a relationship with coworkers, customers and other stakeholders.

Keep candidates updated. Most candidates like to know where they are in the hiring process. This is a place where technology and personal attention come together beautifully. When done right, giving candidates regular updates on their status — similar to a package delivery service or pizza delivery app — can help candidates feel in control and cared for.

Consider onboarding part of the candidate experience. Talk about a first impression: In most organizations, new hires need to complete 50+ onboarding activities. Most of these activities are what we used to call “paperwork.” (In today’s world, we might call it “death by 1,000 online forms.”) Be sure that amongst all of that form drudgery, candidates get human interactions with new team members. Some of those interactions will be about work orientation activities, but social interaction is also important. Helping new employees get to know the team socially sets them up for success — especially in remote teams.

Work on employee engagement. 82% of candidates consider employer brand/reputation before applying for a job, and up to 70% of placements come from referrals. Referrals and good employer brands are driven by one thing: employees who are satisfied with their jobs. As a result, increasing engagement for current employees is key to recruiting new talent.

So how can organizations increase engagement? For today’s candidates, salary and benefits are table stakes. Organizations need to up the ante and become people-first workplaces. Putting employees first means offering meaningful work, empowering people to make choices about their work arrangements, building a workplace community, prioritizing diversity and recognition, and more. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

Finally, it’s a huge advantage to show candidates that employees also enjoy a healthy balance of useful technology tools, such as employee portals, and human interaction, like regular check-ins with a manager who really cares about an employee’s personal goals.

A Balanced Candidate Experience Is a Great Candidate Experience

In today’s competitive talent workplace, creating a candidate experience that combines user-friendly technology with high-touch human interactions will help you attract the talent you (or your clients) need to thrive.

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