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candidate engagement

Ask an Expert: The Past, Present and Future of Candidate Engagement

Ania D'Agostino


Giles Heckstall-Smith, Jobtrain’s Commercial Director, answers our questions about the ever-evolving state of candidate engagement and recruitment technology.

On Thursday 29th June, LaunchPad’s Client Relationship Director Chris Pateman joined forces with Rob Devlin, Head of Resourcing at mydentist and Giles Heckstall-Smith, Commercial Director at Jobtrain, to host a webinar discussion on how to leverage cutting-edge recruitment technologies in order to boost candidate engagement and improve hiring outcomes (watch the webinar below!)

Watch the webinar

Earlier this week, we caught up with Giles for a brief Q&A to get his thoughts on the past, present and future of candidate engagement best practices. Here’s what he had to say.

LPR: Can you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your background and what do you do at Jobtrain?

GHS: I’ve been at Jobtrain for 14 years now (!), but much like many of us here I came from an HR and Recruitment background; previously working for Penna the HR consultancy and prior to that I worked in Training and Recruitment for Next plc. As Commercial Director, I lead the Commercial Team and oversee all commercial activities here at Jobtrain.

I’ve been privileged to be involved with Jobtrain almost from the start. I’ve seen our business and product grow and evolve from its humble beginnings to today, where we have a fantastic solution and service, with a really passionate and talented team making it happen. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from that.

LPR: How has candidate engagement changed over the course of the past five to 10 years?

GHS: That’s a tough question to answer briefly — it’s changed immeasurably and it’s been an incredibly exciting time to work in corporate recruitment. Technology and the Internet’s own development have transformed the opportunity to engage with candidates. Social Media has opened up new platforms for us to connect, communicate and build relationships with others.

From a recruitment perspective, I think there is a great deal of potential here we have yet to harness fully. All of our day-to-day behaviours have been transformed by technology in many valuable ways, but it’s important for us to ensure that technology is always used to support, enhance and facilitate people engaging with one another — never to replace it!

LPR: How has the rise of mobile tech impacted recruitment process design as a whole?

GHS: It’s having a profound effect. Our online attention span has reduced dramatically over the last few years — and I mean all of us, not just millennials.

Employers are having to reconsider the length of their entire application process, and at the very least at the initial stage. We’re trying to facilitate this by implementing two-stage application processes to help with the challenge of keeping a process short, but still capturing vital compliance and diversity and inclusion data to ensure fair and safe recruiting practices are used.

Candidate applications (and more) via mobile are ever-increasing and we’ve just completed the second redesign of our candidate experience in two years. Our new candidate experience has been developed with all controls designed for touch (as opposed to mouse clicks), and we’ve started with the mobile experience first to ensure it delivers the most intuitive experience possible across all devices.

LPR: How can recruiters effectively assess a candidate’s fitness for a given position without making the application process too demanding or time-consuming?

GHS: I think we’re seeing a move away from competency-based recruitment and far more towards strengths and values-based assessment. This opens up the opportunity to use more creative assessments as part of the upfront engagement with candidates and also the application and assessment stages.

Application forms with greater relevance and personality, gamification and video (and even VR) offer far more engaging and fun ways for candidates to demonstrate their potential for the organisations they want to work for. This also opens up the chance for companies to show a bit more of their personality and creativity. After all, it is a two-way engagement process.

LPR: Can you think of any examples of companies who are really taking candidate engagement to the next level?

GHS: I read this week about Jaguar Land Rover’s campaign to discover new tech talent, using code breaking challenges within Gorillaz own app. It’s brilliantly inventive and I really admire them taking such a bold step and one that will beautifully simultaneously enhance the rest of the brand’s reputation as a cutting-edge innovator.

LPR: What do you think the future of candidate engagement looks like? Are there any emerging technologies or tactics that you’re particularly excited about?

GHS: I do get the sense that the industry has been finding its feet with regards to the harnessing of VR, gamification and AI etc. As ever, there’s a rush to harness new technologies and apply them to hiring, but it takes a while to shake out with some really meaningful applications. We are seeing some beginning to emerge now and that’s exciting. At Jobtrain we invest heavily in innovation but seek to apply it in such a way that it facilitates and enhances the people element of recruitment — my hope is that others across our industry will do the same.

If you’re interested in learning more about how cutting-edge recruitment technology can help improve the candidate experience, sign up for the webinar below.

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Ania D'Agostino

Ania D'Agostino is a Marketing Manager at LaunchPad Recruits