The employee experience laid bare – from the candidate’s perspective

What’s the current situation like in the recruitment market?

If you are a professional communicator in search of a new role, I know you’ll find this article useful.

If you are struggling to recruit to your internal communication team, this will be equally useful for you.

I’m delighted to welcome Virginia Hicks back to the All Things IC blog. She’s the MD of Comma Partners and is here to reveal the reality of the job market for candidates (job seekers).

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Virginia for years. Comma specialises in internal and change communications, employee engagement and change management. Working across the UK, they resource Interims, FTCs, Permanent Hires, Freelancers, Coaches and Writers.

She’s previously shared her thoughts on all things IR35 related for our blog.

I’ll hand you over…

Employee experience laid bare by Virginia Hicks

The employee experience laid bare – from the candidate’s perspective

For candidates – they are now in the driving seat when it comes to whether they stay or accept a role with another company.

Any business which thinks they can recruit in the same way as pre-COVID needs to think again.

It’s becoming apparent that employee experience is the term employers should get familiar with if they are not already. It is one of the hottest topics around. Especially for millennials.

Deloitte estimates that, by 2025, millennials alone will make up 75% of the global workforce, and those millennials care deeply about their experience with their organisations and prospective employers.

Candidates these days are not so impressed by a big name, a flashy office or even a bigger salary. They want to know exactly what they are getting into, and they want to be sure that the company they choose to give their time to aligns with their values.

‘Vanilla’ job descriptions or specs with 20 objectives (I exaggerate but only minimally) need to hit the bin.

Interviews heavily biased on what candidates can do for the company are no longer acceptable.

Candidates expect more. They want to feel that the company interviewing has its house in order, is clear about what it needs, values its people and their well-being and cultivates a harmonious culture.

They also want to be clear about what the company stands for – its purpose, its values, its position on sustainability – topics that are increasingly important to candidates.

For the first time in over 15 years employers are having to ‘sell’ their business and their roles and, for interviewers, this will not be the norm if they have always worked in an economy that is spoilt for talent.

What’s the reality?

Candidate offer experience: “It felt like they were attempting to look like they were meeting me halfway but in reality, I think they were trying to get me as cheaply as possible – and below market rate”.

Candidate interview experience: “It was all highly unprofessional and frankly farcical.  Organisations need to step up”.

Candidate interview experience: “They seemed obsessed with me being close to the office”.

Does this sound familiar to you?

What’s the state of the sector?

According to State of the Sector 2021/2022, disengaged employees and lack of capacity were voted as the top two challenges for 2022.

At the same time, employers’ expectations have exploded post-pandemic and have had a huge impact on internal communication roles.

Strategy, values and engagement have always been the fundamental part of the IC practitioner’s role but now we see the focus on these topics, and the speed at which they need to be integrated into operations, has rocketed.

And this is all happening at a time when employee engagement is at an all-time low and the economy is under pressure.

Internal communications practitioners have been writing about values, ethics and employee engagement for years.

COVID has allowed them to take a breath, step back, recalibrate and really think about what is important to them. Those things they write about have be meaningful to them, not just topics they write about as part of their job.

Unachievable job descriptions, with insufficient budget are just not going to cut it any longer And paying extra is no longer the ‘get out of jail card’.

The message to companies – show you value candidates and their skills by respecting them.

It begins with a great interview experience – excite them, motivate them with a brilliant job spec and clear objectives.

Sell your company to them – the brand, what it stands for, your position on health and wellness, fairness and equality, the environment – all those things we know candidates care about.

If you’re not there yet – be honest with them – at least they can then make an ‘informed’ decision.

If companies do this genuinely, they will attract great talent. The employee experience starts here.

Post author: Virginia Hicks, MD of Comma Partners.

First published on the All Things IC blog 21 July 2022.

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  1. Dan Holdeni says:

    Lots of great suggestions Virgina for organisations to apply when it comes to creating a great candidate experience. I love the point you’ve made “show you value candidates and their skills by respecting them.”. A few years back when I was looking for a new role I removed myself from the application process for a role as I felt there was no respect towards my professional skills.

  2. […] The employee experience laid bare – from the candidate’s perspective […]

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