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Five solutions to help you deliver a superior candidate experience

Today’s candidates have high expectations for their recruiters. Each aspect of their experience, from the initial phone conversation and interview, to how they part ways with your agency, will shape their opinion.

This is why candidate experience should be at the forefront of every recruiter’s agenda. 

Consistently providing a standout experience, however, can be a constant challenge. Luckily, recruiters can take advantage of a wide range of software solutions – each designed to make it easier to deliver in this area.

To help you decide which ones are right for you, we’ve curated five of the very best candidate experience solutions and spoken to the tech experts behind them for their advice on how to utilise them to full effect. 

What do candidates want, and how can you deliver this?

Before we delve into this subject, we surveyed our network to help us better understand candidates’ priorities and expectations when it comes to recruitment services – and the tools recruiters are using to meet these requirements. 

Let’s take a look at the results from both the candidate and recruiter sides of the coin:

According to our survey, the highest priorities for candidates when it comes to recruitment services are communication (50%) and responsiveness (25%). 

This suggests that in order to deliver a better candidate experience, recruiters should choose tools that allow for easier communication and help to speed up the overall recruitment process, by reducing the time spent on manual tasks.

But, are they doing this?

Well, CRM/ATS systems were named to be the most helpful candidate experience tools by our recruitment network. Both of these software types are designed to allow faster and more efficient communication between recruiters and their candidate base.

Interestingly, 33% of the recruiters we surveyed had seen the most benefit from chatbots, indicating that many recruiters have successfully implemented AI-powered tools to enhance their candidate experience.

What candidate experience tools have helped recruiters the most?

Now we’re ready to take a more detailed look at some of the leading candidate experience solutions on the market, together with the benefits they can bring to your recruitment business.

Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)

CRMs help recruitment agencies keep track of candidate interactions. They allow recruiters to access important data as and when required. 

Many CRMs can generate conversion rate insights to help businesses improve their website’s design and usability. This will translate to a smoother user experience, a higher rate of engagement, and in turn, happier clients and candidates!

Key Features

  • A comprehensive management system for customer data. 
  • Captures data of prospective candidates, clients and leads.
  • Logs interactions and transactions.
  • Shows conversion rates of ads, emails, website forms.
  • Can work in conjunction with other software to help improve candidate experience.

Examples

  • Scalable, cloud-based, mobile-friendly CRM solution to suit recruitment businesses of all sizes. 
  • From £20 per month – free trial available. 
  • Free to use.
  • Allows for up to 1 million contacts and users. 
  • Includes real-time-notifications, call-recording and calendar syncing.
  • Engage with prospects, clients and candidates across every channel. 
  • Features email, live chat, phone and social integration. 
  • Users can chat to Zia – a powerful AI sales assistant at any time to gain insights.
  • From £10 per user per month – free 15-day trial available.
  • Centralise multiple prospect communication streams for a comprehensive view of each client relationship. 
  • Mobile-ready with passive activity tracking and LinkedIn Recruiter integration.
  • Pricing available on application.

The Expert View

Firefish Software’s Chief Fish and Founder Wendy McDougall explained how the right CRM solution can help recruiters improve their candidate experience:

The best recruitment CRMs will always be striving to improve candidate experience because this is at the very core of any successful recruitment business. Firefish does this by ensuring all of an agency’s marketing efforts are seamlessly integrated with their CRM, so the candidate journey from first point of contact through to placement is perfectly streamlined – no matter where their journey begins.”

Wendy McDougall, Chief Fish and Founder of Firefish Software.


Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) 

ATS systems provide you with quick access to all your candidate data. Many can also track both candidates and vacancies, making it easier to match them, and schedule meetings for candidates.

For very small recruitment operations, one of the many free or open-source ATS solutions may be sufficient. Others may benefit from the more feature-rich small business or enterprise options. Whatever you decide, the right ATS system can help you deliver a better overall candidate experience …

Key Features

  • ATS software is specifically designed to manage recruitment requirements.
  • Available at enterprise or small business level.
  • Free and open-source ATS solutions are also available.
  • Allows agencies to manage their recruitment process and monitor candidates via one central database.
  • Posts vacancies on job boards/careers sites etc.
  • Works similarly to CRM systems, but designed for recruitment tracking purposes. 

Example

  • Award-winning ATS system, serving over 10,000 clients worldwide.
  • Key features include CV parsing and editing, managing and tracking interviews, identifying best-fit candidates and onboarding. 
  • Pricing available on application.
  • Designed to help users to build talent pipelines, provide great mobile experiences, select the right talent and onboard with ease. 
  • Incorporates IBM’s cloud security technology. 
  • Pricing and free software demonstrations available on request.
  • Key features include vacancy creation, mobile-first talent attraction, easy candidate selection and real-time analytics. 
  • Pricing and free demonstrations available on request.

The Expert View

Jasper Venema, JobAdder’s Candidate Experience Expert spoke to us about how ATS software can assist recruiters facing the dual challenge of delivering for candidates, without falling short on targets:

Best practice candidate experience should not come at the cost of agency efficiency. ATS solutions such as Jobadder help to reduce labour-intensive relationship management by automation, best-practice implementation and advisory.”

Jasper Venema, Candidate Experince Expert – JobAdder

CRM and ATS: How do they differ – and how can they work together?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are both integral to the running of many recruitment businesses. However, due in part to the way they are marketed, many consumers experience confusion over how they differ – and how they can work together. 

To help make things a little clearer, we’ve prepared a quick guide:

We hope you now understand the workings of these two popular solutions a little better. Remember, the functionality of a CRM or ATS system will vary depending on the vendor and price point. 

Although most CRMs are client-orientated, some specialist systems, often marketed as ‘Candidate Relationship Management’ solutions have candidate tracking functionality, similar to ATS systems. 

Therefore, to make sure the software you’re considering fully meets your business’ needs, it’s a good idea to arrange a free trial or a demonstration with your vendor before purchasing or committing to a contract.

Recruitment Chatbots

Recruitment chatbot systems are designed to field enquiries from existing and prospective clients and candidates. Options available range from free chat plugins for Facebook business pages, which can deliver automated responses to predetermined questions, to more complex, bespoke systems, utilising sophisticated AI technology.

Many recruitment agencies incorporate chatbot functionality into their websites, to collect information from prospective candidates and guide them through the recruitment process.

More advanced chatbot solutions typically use Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, which allows them to interpret conversational language, as opposed to searching for ‘exact’ match keywords. This makes for more natural conversations between the user and chatbots. Better comprehension allows chatbots to give users more relevant answers and therefore create a smoother candidate experience.

Key Features

  • Respond to web queries when there are no human operatives available.
  • Free and low-cost versions may deliver set responses.
  • More advanced chatbots can use (limited) conversational language, collect CVs and other candidate information, and even schedule meetings.

Examples

  • Conversational AI recruiting chatbot, engages with both passive and active candidates. 
  • Uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to lead open-ended conversations that deliver deep candidate insights. 
  • Demonstrations available on request.
  • Can automate 70-80% of top-of-funnel interactions, including screening and qualifying candidates. 
  • Reaches out to candidates at scale to keep them updated.
  • ‘Emerson’ is the first AI recruiting assistant to be fully integrated into a hiring CRM tool. 
  • Can alert recruiters to high-priority talent, so they can join conversations.
  • Machine learning functionality means ‘Emerson’ improves its understanding of your business and candidates with every interaction.
  • Asks candidates custom questions to create suitable shortlists.
  • Automatically schedules interviews.
  • Enables recruiters to outsource the process of job posting and candidate outreach.

The Expert View

During our research, we connected with two chatbot industry insiders, who kindly shared their expertise with us. Firstly, XOR’s Sergiu Balan expounded some of the key candidate experience benefits provided by chatbots:

Recruitment chatbot tools can improve the candidate experience in several ways. Firstly, engagement is instant; chatbots work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Intelligent chatbots can answer candidates’ questions about vacancies (relating to salary, benefits, location etc.), as well as pre-screening candidates on the recruiter’s behalf – and even schedule interviews for suitable candidates.”

Sergiu Balan, Account Execuitve – XOR

Ideal’s Jason Gotwalt explained some of the key considerations for agencies seeking the right chatbot vendor:

“Agencies should look for a vendor-partner who can seamlessly integrate chatbot engagements into the overall grading of a candidate and ensure these insights translate automatically into recommendations directly within their ATS.”

Jason Gotwalt, Senior Account Executive – Ideal

Talent Rediscovery

When it comes to sourcing suitable talent to fill vacancies, recruiters have the option of searching their database of existing candidates. This task can be very time-consuming when attempted manually, due in part to limitations around keyword and Boolean searches.

However, AI-powered talent rediscovery tools can make this process significantly easier. Rather than relying on manual, ‘exact’ searches, talent rediscovery software can integrate with your ATS or CRM to search more intelligently. Its algorithms can produce an accurate shortlist of candidates, based on your job description, graded according to suitability rather than how many keywords they match for. 

Candidates put forward for roles that have been algorithmically matched to their skills have a better chance of success, which will lead to a better overall candidate experience. 

Key Features

  • Allows recruiters to pinpoint the right talent for roles using their existing candidate database.
  • Quickly works through large volumes of data to produce stat-based shortlists of candidates based on the requirements of job roles.

Examples

  • New branch of AI-powered recruitment software.
  • Allows for the automatic screening of previously registered candidates for new roles. 
  • Integrates with ATS systems, understands the requirements of job descriptions and produces graded shortlists of qualified candidates. 
  • ‘Discovery survey’ feature measures applicants’ personality and cognitive skills with deep psychological data. 
  • Helps recruiters identify the right talent and gives them a choice of engaged, highly skilled applicants. 

The Expert View

Hiretual‘s CEO and Co-Founder, Steven Jiang explains how talent rediscovery can help recruiters deliver for both clients and candidates: 

“Hiretual’s talent rediscovery expands available talent pools by resurfacing past applicants in your ATS/CRM, and we partner with many of the most commonly used ATS/CRM providers for easy two-way integration. Focusing on these candidates is a great way to find some of the warmest leads for recruiters to engage with, because they’ve already expressed interest in working for your company by applying for a past open role.” 

Steven Jiang, CEO and Co-Founder – Hiretual

Video Interviewing

Video interviewing software allows recruiters to interview candidates remotely, at a mutually convenient time. Seeing the person on-screen allows the recruiter to assess skills and competencies that they could not with a telephone interview. And, unlike a face-to-face meeting, the recruiter is free to revisit the discussion at a later date, helping ensure important details are not missed.

Recruiters can then present shortlists of candidates’ interviews for clients to evaluate. Video interviewing can improve the candidate experience, as it removes the need for jobseekers to travel to meet their recruiter. It also allows recruiters to speak to more candidates over a shorter time frame, helping to speed up the hiring process. 

Key Features

  • Conduct candidate meetings remotely.
  • Schedule and record video interviews with candidates.
  • One-way and live video interviewing
  • Evaluate interviews to determine which candidates to put forward.
  • Rate and comment on interviews / send rejection emails.
  • Share recordings with hiring managers at client organisations.

Examples

  • Record and send personalised video messages to candidates – and receive notifications when viewed.
  • Create video shortlists.
  • Conduct live interviews on any device.
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • 6-week training and implementation course for all customers.
  • Demonstrations available on request.
  • Video interviewing, incorporating text or video-based questions.
  • Record live full-length video interviews.
  • Share interviews with unlimited hiring managers.
  • Real-time notification when videos are being watched.
  • From $99 (£81) per month – free demonstrations available on request.
  • AI assesses candidates based on criteria to predict performance.
  • Candidate comparison tools to determine who to put forward.
  • Mobile apps available for candidates and recruiters.
  • 24/7 real-time support available.
  • Pricing available on application – free demonstrations available 

The Expert View

Odro’s Customer Success Manager Ainsley McRae told us how recruiters can make video interviewing work for them – and their candidates:

“In order to get the most from video, we advise only offering this is an option for clients you are working exclusively with, which therefore removes all other competition for the role. Alongside working exclusively with your client, we recommend ensuring they pay a retainer, which in turn, lowers the chance of the client pulling the job – and also allows the opportunity to have instant billings, with the deposit model.”

Ainsley McRae, Customer Success Manager – Odro

To any readers considering investing in a video interview technology, Ainsley offers the following advice:

“You want to have a think about what success looks like for you. Is it to save time, money, make more placements, bring on more candidates? Think about a measurable goal, so that you can decide whether your video provider is working for you.”

Finding What Works for You …

Many thanks to all our experts for sharing their insights from the frontline of recruitment software development. We hope our article has provided a useful introduction to some of the most innovative candidate solutions available today.

Remember, the best combination of candidate experience software and tools will vary depending on your agency’s size, industry and your candidates’ needs. Certain software solutions may complement one another, allowing you to work more efficiently and deliver an altogether better candidate experience. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the generous free trials and demonstrations offered by many vendors – the key is to figure out what works for you – and your candidates!

Which candidate experience tools are you currently using? Do you feel that they have helped you deliver more for your candidates? Feel free to share your views in the comments section – we’d love to hear from you!

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