This year the RAD awards have a new award re-categorized as “Candidate Engagement” after the disappointment of having to withdraw the “Candidate Experience” category last year due to an insufficient level of quality entrants.
Focusing on the engagement strategy is an important part of what the RAD awards are about. In essence much of the work that is done within recruitment communications is about engaging with the candidate and is the substrate of an effective employer brand. Then there is another category purely for best Employer Brand. Surely the best employer brand is also going to be the one that is most effectively engaging with candidates?
So is this category just re-classifying much of what has been done before?
According to the RAD Awards website, the, “judges will be looking for the following“:
- Clarity – Is the recruitment process clearly explained? Is information readily available for the candidate? Is it easy to understand?
- Brand – Do the materials accurately reflect the employer brand and EVP?
- People – At what stage are people involved in the recruitment process? How are they briefed/trained? Do they act as advocates for the brand?
- Communication – Is the candidate kept regularly informed throughout the process? Is the communication clear, concise and on brand?
- Effectiveness – What were the metrics of success and how were these measured?
Let’s take a look at each one of those points:
1) Clarity – My starting point is to question what the candidates’ think. Have you asked them? What data is being used to support that?
2) Brand – You might know what you want it so say and articulate – hopefully based on good research and brand evaluation. What does the candidate think? Do their expectations sit with your own evaluation? Does this change once they engage? What data do you have to support that?
3) People – Refer to point 2. This is process and is important to evaluating delivery. Large organisations will have the challenge of ensuring this across a number of people spread geographically who they all need to work to brief and in alliance with the behaviours and values of the organisation. So the first question can be answered by the organisation themselves – the intention can be well managed and initiated. How about the delivery? How did this align with the candidate experience? What data is supporting that and is it segmented by geography, region, recruiter, for example?
4) Communication – I’m guessing the candidate is going to be the best person to evaluate this. The ideas and initiatives may all be strong. The mechanisms may be in place, but are they being delivered consistently? What does the candidate think? What is the data to evidence this?
5) Effectiveness – And here lies the rub. Point 5 is what all the others should be measured on. It’s should be the thread that weaves this all together. This should be the driver for the entire category otherwise all that is being measured is the idea. Also, it refers to the past tense which is fine if it is based around one-off campaign strategies, but often the requirement for large organisations will be to have ongoing measurement and feed back in order to manage and improve.
I’ve seen many fine examples of creativity and brand execution that have been brilliantly executed, but that hasn’t always translated into the right results. The message may have been out of sync or the strategy not suitable aligned with the target audience even if the idea was a good one. In the words of Eric Morecambe, “I’m playing all the right notes. But not necessarily in the right order.”
Which comes back to the measurement. The strategy to engage candidates starts at the very beginning. The research, understanding of the target audience, the behaviours and values of the EVP and then the communication and engagement strategy that runs through it. The recruiters and hiring team will evaluate the results based on the quality of candidates they attract and ultimately the quality of their hires.
And how does this impact on the candidate themselves? What about all those who sought to engage but were rejected early in the process? How were candidates who progressed through the selection process treated and did their experience reflect the organisation’s values?
The criteria highlighted in this category does give the impression of focusing on the activity that affects the candidate experience rather the candidate experience itself. The requirement and execution rather than the outcome. Maybe the measurement piece of this will demonstrate that the shortlisted entries will have strong metrics in place and it will be interesting to see how organisations are genuinely making strides in this area.
I can’t help thinking though that to rename or replace the ‘candidate experience’ category with a category called ‘candidate engagement’ has taken this particular RAD category back into the award’s comfort zone with the emphasis realigned towards the recruiter rather than the candidate. But then whilst it is referred to as a replacement for the candidate experience category it doesn’t mention anything about candidate experience.
This is one award where the only real winner should be the recruiter and organisation who has the best metrics to evidence it. Without that it can only be a subjective judgement by the panel based on creative thinking and good intentions.