Wanted: Hiring Experience Designer

For the last ten years, employers, software vendors and consultants have been feeding off this idea that the hiring process is “broken”.

The application process is a black hole. Interviewers ask the same questions. Candidates don’t get post-interview feedback.

The pain points are numerous. And they’re all true.

But for all the noise that’s been made, progress has been painfully slow. The hiring process still breaks down — even at the companies who are on the big stage at all the recruiting conferences self-proclaiming their excellence.

So what’s the issue? How can we put a man on the moon but we can’t seem to get a candidate through the hiring process without something going wrong?

While I’m just a recruiting practitioner - not a scientist - I have a theory.

My well-informed theory comes from being a two-time winner of an award that goes to companies who do candidate experience really well. AND a two-time loser of that same award. I know what process we used to win it and the process we failed to use when we lost.

Whether you put much stock in these types of awards, I can tell you from experience that they force you to look at your end-to-end hiring process through the lens of your candidate. That perspective is worth more than the trophy.

Looking at a problem or process through the eyes of your “customers” is a fundamental building block of a profession called User Experience Design or UX for short. This way of thinking is the engine that drives the development of just about every software product, consumer gadget, restaurant concept and more. It’s a structured way of creating solutions that people love.

The problem with our industry is that when it comes to improving the candidate experience, recruiting leaders immediately default to “process mapping” to find a solution . We LOVE our process maps.

But process maps done in isolation, based on so-called best practices, will only give you marginal gains in improvement.

My theory is that if you want to make quantum leap improvements in your hiring experience then you need to take a customer-centric approach and design your experience from the ground up.

But you can’t do this alone. In most cases, recruiting leaders are not trained in methodologies like “design thinking”, user research, customer journey mapping, card sorting, etc.

In the same way that recruiters are still not acting like trained marketers (like we want them to), we can’t expect recruiting leaders to start acting like User Experience Designers.

We have to start bringing these professionals onto our teams to transform the way we run our talent acquisition functions. Or borrowing them from other departments. Or bringing them in from the outside as consultants.

In the near future, I think (and hope) we will begin to see job postings for “Hiring Experience Designers”. This addition of UX designers into the Talent Acquisition space will provide the structure and methodologies needed to make a dent in the negative sentiment surrounding the broken hiring process.

This will also drive a much-needed shift in our thinking from a limited “Candidate Experience” to a more holistic “Hiring Experience”. This ensures a 360 degree view of our process from all stakeholders involved, not just the candidate.

Don’t get me wrong. The “Candidate Experience” movement has had a good run. It has definitely made an impact. But from what I can tell from reading hundreds of Glassdoor reviews and being a candidate myself recently, is that it has mainly made a dent in places where low hanging fruit exists. Things like witty email autoresponders when you apply to a job, pretty itineraries on corporate letterhead or being offered a bottle of water in the lobby before your round of seven back-to-back interviews.

Those improvements are easy. But the hard problems, like delivering a series of delightful and flawless experiences across your entire hiring process, takes a completely different approach. And to create unique experiences that really WOW those in-demand candidates that you so desperately need — you need to dig even deeper.

While it’s easy for me to pontificate on all the things that we should do, I also understand the constraints. Headcount. Budgets. Talent shortages. Time. I get it…I’ve been there.

But I’m a believer. I believe that it can be better because I’ve seen the application of UX methodologies to the hiring process and it can unlock improvements that you’ll never get from traditional methods. All it takes is an open mind to bringing new thinkers into the fold — a requirement if we’re going to solve the hiring experience dilemma once and for all.

For an alternative to process mapping your way through a specific recruiting problem, check out this article.