March 17th, 2022 | Sterling

Candidate Experience: How to make communication your key to success

Candidate communicating on the laptop to employer working from home

The war for talent is real. In today’s increasingly virtual and competitive hiring landscape, employers are in a constant battle for the best talent, which means that when they do eventually find the right person, they need to do everything in their power to ensure they get them to start on Day One sooner — and then work to keep them there!

In this blog post, we highlight the key discussion points from our recent Sterling Live episode and uncover the lessons behind the pursuit of the ideal candidate experience. Our host was Sterling’s Social Media manager Katelyn Brower, who was joined by expert guests, Sterling’s Tim Stokes and Ceridian’s Wendy Muirhead. In this session, they discussed how communication lies at the heart of a great candidate experience, and just how this should be embedded throughout the recruitment journey, (areas we’ll touch on here) as well as the practical steps organisations can take to help ensure candidates walk away with a positive impression of your business and workplace culture.

Work-Life Balance is Evolving

In the UK, employers have faced a record number of job vacancies rising to over 1 million. Coupled with a decreasing unemployment rate which fell to 4.2%, this creates the perfect employer storm – where skilled talent is in short supply, and experienced employees find themselves looking for opportunities elsewhere. This was supported by a Global Manpower survey, finding that 70% of employers have reported talent shortages, and have also experienced difficulties filling open positions.

In this candidate-led market, employers are heavily incentivised to do much more than offer flexible working and competitive compensation. Many may argue that before the pandemic, most people worked just to make ends meet, but these days, with so many options at the fingertips of those with marketable skills, work life-balance may now have tipped in favour of “living the dream,” so that now the average worker’s experience may be seen through a slightly different lens overall. Today’s employees have become much more particular about where they want to work from, what type of job they’re looking for, and what the company’s brand and its people represent. First impressions are everything, and your organisation should be reflecting the values of your company and culture from the very first touchpoint – particularly if you’re onboarding remotely.  

The Blueprints for a Great Candidate relationship

While many industries such as leisure, retail and hospitality were hit hard during the pandemic, certain organisations such as those with a  gig element flourished. It’s clear that due to Covid-19, the world of work is changing, and the demand for non-permanent, contingent talent has grown rapidly. In the UK, 7.25 million people work as independent contractors, allowing businesses to immediately plug and access specialist skills which they’d be hard-pressed to acquire on a permanent basis.

1. Communication is Key

Even when hiring at largescale volumes, and at speed — it’s still vital that organisations continue to communicate with the candidate throughout the onboarding process to avoid losing (or potentially alienating) them. Regular and timely communication may also help mitigate the risk of a competitor luring your candidate away, and it can also help you to achieve your goal of delivering a seamless candidate journey.

2. Setting Expectations Early

At the start of the hiring process, it’s vital to set expectations upfront with the candidate. For example this may include a timeline of events or a walkthrough of the onboarding process – outlining Day One through to the first three months may help to ease the mind of your employees. But this principle of setting expectations can also be applied throughout the recruitment journey. For example, a background check may be a daunting experience for many, particularly if it’s the first time, so it’s important that the process and steps are explained in advance, and the candidate knows where to go when help is required. For example, Sterling has a dedicated candidate website with FAQs and videos to help – and by doing so, your HR onboarding process can deliver more responsive experiences.

3. Tech-Enabled Experiences

Without efficient technology in place, onboarding thousands of new hires may prove a challenging task. Technology certainly streamlines the process and ensures things are done on-time and efficiently. From setting up and notifying HR of check-ins, all the way through to ordering the right equipment, technology can reduce the  heavy burden of administration for human resources. For most global organisations, an applicant tracking system helps to keep the experience consistent for the candidates, wherever they may be hiring. Meanwhile partnerships across the HRTA (Human Resource Talent Acquisition) landscape allows technology to come together via integrations – yet still appear as a single unified experience for the applicant, such as the Sterling and Ceridian partnership. 

Many organisations and governmental bodies are recognizing the benefits that technology can bring: for example the Home Office adopting a digital identity strategy for Right to Work Checks and beyond.

4. Champion Your Culture

Organisations should be more conscious than ever of the need to communicate their culture to the candidate.  As challenging as it may sound to convey this remotely, your company’s corporate values and culture should be embedded throughout all parts of working life. For example, you can show your candidates proof of your values during onboarding through your interview questions and assessments.   Likewise, surveys and feedback from your workforce can play an essential part in shaping a healthy workplace culture.

At Sterling, we recognize the importance of a strong culture, so we have tasked our Culture Champions with engaging colleagues and ensuring morale remains high.  As just one example, this can be effectively shown by organizing something as simple as a virtual coffee morning, giving everyone a rare chance to relax and get to know one another better.

While the relationship between employer and employee may have fundamentally changed due to the pandemic, adapting this fact to the modern workforce and having communication at the heart of your HR processes may just be the key to getting it right, from the first touchpoint to Day One.

To learn more details from our on-demand Sterling Live session, click here.


This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.