It can be argued that for too long, companies have been spoilt for choice when it comes to tech talent, with an abundance of eager applicants to choose from. This has ultimately led to many companies overlooking, or even completely neglecting, the candidate experience, and somewhat understandably so - when time’s a luxury, why would you waste time perfecting a seamless candidate experience, particularly when the priority is on finding the best talent? As the market evolves, however, the balance of power will shift, and you’ll quickly find that candidate experience shoots up your list of priorities when it does.

Companies won’t always be able to rely on a surplus of quality candidates. All signs point to a job-heavy future where techies are more in-demand than ever before. Once this shift occurs, candidate experience will become paramount to attracting the best talent, as you’ll be competing to persuade the best talent that your company is the best place for them to further their careers. If you’re not preparing for this inevitable change now, you could find yourself behind the eight ball once it happens.

When we look at the current landscape of tech recruitment, it’s clearly a very candidate heavy marketplace, with a rich assortment of highly skilled techies eager to find their next role. Employers are finding that as long as they get their job description, salary and benefits on point, they have their pick from a lot of very skilled candidates. This abundance has led to an unfortunate side-effect, however, as we’ve definitely seen an increasingly diminished emphasis on candidate experience.

It could even be said that companies have entirely neglected the candidate experience, in favour of a ‘quantity over quality’ approach to recruitment. The sheer volume of applicants has made it necessary for companies to streamline their recruitment processes, as there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to give every application bespoke attention and feedback. However, it can be argued that this streamlining has come at the expense of creating a positive, engaging, and even respectful experience for candidates. This mindset, albeit borne from an excess of choice, has led to practices that often feel impersonal and somewhat mechanical.

For example, many companies have implemented rapid interview processes, with candidates whisked through multiple stages with little clarity or communication. This often leads to candidates feeling like they are merely a number to that company, as opposed to a highly-valued potential hire. The focus has shifted towards just trying to process the sheer number of applications companies are receiving, rather than taking the time required to ensure each candidate has a positive experience.

Advances in recruitment technology could also be partially blamed for this de-emphasis on candidate experience, with automated recruitment systems frequently lacking a personal touch. Whilst companies will make the argument that this tech is necessary just to process the large influx of applications they’re receiving, this impersonal approach can create a negative impression of your company and potentially leave something of a bad taste in the mouth. Candidates often receive generic rejection emails lacking in constructive feedback, leaving them in the dark about their performance, or the reason for their rejection. Whilst the initial intention is to improve efficiency, it could be argued that this doesn’t outweigh the negatives of candidates receiving a bad experience.

It’s clear that all of this indicates there are crucial issues in tech recruitment - issues that will only be exacerbated once the shift towards a job-heavy market occurs. The abundance of candidates and volume of applications has necessitated a shift towards speed and efficiency, at the expense of bespoke and personal candidate experiences. This could soon prove to be a costly mistake however, and as the balance of power begins to tilt, the importance of treating candidates with respect and consideration will become increasingly apparent.

You can make a pretty solid argument that this shift is already well under way. We’re already hearing whispers of a tech talent shortage in the UK as tech continues to increase its presence in sectors where, just a few years ago, it wasn’t a huge consideration for companies. All trends and indications suggest we’re on the cusp of a job-heavy market, and will soon find ourselves in a position where the number of roles outweighs the number of techies available to fill them, which will ultimately shake the tech recruitment scene up in ways that should be both profound and exciting.

Several factors are driving this seismic shift. Arguably the most pressing is the unprecedented pace of technological improvements. Emerging techs, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computing are not only creating entirely new industries, but also demand a workforce with highly specialised skills. Alongside this, we’re seeing the digitisation of companies that previously didn’t have tech anywhere near their list of priorities. Sectors such as retail are more reliant on techies than ever, whereas just a couple of years ago it wouldn’t have been seen as a viable destination for the very best techies. As companies, both old and new, race to stay ahead of this exponential curve, the subsequent demand for tech talent has skyrocketed, and this appears to only be accelerating going forwards.

We also need to consider the economic ramifications. As economies begin to recover and expand post-pandemic, investment in technology is at an all time high. Spending on tech reached $4.5 trillion globally in 2023, up 2.4% from the previous year, and this is only expected to increase going forwards. Established companies, previously seen as the zenith of a techie’s career, are now competing with start-ups for the same pool of talent, further intensifying the competition. When you consider this, alongside the aforementioned digitisation of traditionally non-tech companies, it’s clear the competition for the best tech talent is only just beginning to heat up.

Another factor to consider is the globalisation of the tech workforce. Whilst the increase in prevalence of remote work that was pushed on by the pandemic widens the talent pool, it also widens the number of options available to techies, regardless of geographical boundaries. Companies are no longer just competing with others in their city - they’re competing on a global stage, putting additional pressure on attracting and landing the best tech talent.

When you consider all these factors, it’s clear the implications for employers are going to be significant. Companies will no longer have the luxury of neglecting candidate experience, and a poor recruitment process will result in losing the best talent to those competitors that offer a more engaging and bespoke experience.

A pivot in thought needs to take place where candidate experience goes from being an afterthought, to being recognised as a strategic priority. Companies will have to focus on cultivating a widespread reputation as a desirable employer that values and respects applicants, and craft a candidate experience that leaves a lasting positive impression. This change not only helps secure the best tech talent, but also build a resilient, future-proof workforce poised to drive innovation and success in an increasingly competitive market.

Defining what constitutes a good candidate experience in tech recruitment starts with transparent communication. We recently surveyed over 50,000 techies, and they placed poor communication as their biggest red flag when going through an interview process, so it’s pretty clear that it can undermine your entire recruitment process. Candidates should be kept informed at every stage of the process, starting with the initial application right through to the final hiring decision, and encompassing every touch point in between. Even if their application ultimately isn’t successful, clear communication and feedback can still create a positive experience for the candidate, and transparency builds trust and shows respect for their time and effort. If you’re looking to improve your candidate experience ready for a job-heavy market, ensuring your communication is up to scratch would be a very sensible place to start.

Other significant red flags to consider are the number of interview stages in your process, not being clear on what projects they’ll be working on, or delays in making offers. You should look at ways you can streamline your process, and in particular look at whether there’s any interview stages that are unnecessary, or could be combined with other interview stages. Techies will disengage very quickly if they feel like they’re repeating themselves, not being heard, and/or not getting anything out of the interview themselves, such as insights into culture or working practices. You should also be clear on exactly what role you want them to perform, as they’ll want to know details about what they’ll be working on before accepting an offer. If you’re not able to offer this clarity, don’t leave them in the dark - explain why you’re not sure what they’ll be working on, or at the very least provide examples of projects they could be working on. Once you’ve decided you want to hire them, there’s no benefit in delaying your offer to them, so communicate it clearly and promptly. All of these are easy ways to ensure your recruitment process stands out against your competitors and is effective at landing the best tech talent.

You should also look at the setup of the actual interviews themselves. First impressions are key, and the interview environment plays a crucial role in shaping a candidate’s perception of your company. You should be focused on creating an environment that creates a feeling of warmth, professionalism and respect. This starts with the tone of the conversation - you should be aiming for the interview to be more conversational than rigid and interrogative, as this will make candidates feel more comfortable and bring the best out of them. Ensure the interview space is comfortable, and free from distractions. You should also consider involving team members that genuinely reflect the company’s culture and values, as their enthusiasm can be infectious and can give the candidate a true insight into what it’s really like to work for you.

The benefits of a positive candidate experience are numerous and extensive. Firstly, it leads to a higher offer acceptance rate, as candidates are much more likely to accept an offer if they’ve felt valued and respected throughout the process. This is going to become even more important in a job-heavy market where the best candidates have multiple options to choose from. You also have to consider the impact on a company's reputation, as tech is an industry where both word-of-mouth and online reviews spread quickly, particularly if they are overwhelmingly negative. On the other hand, companies with a good reputation for how they treat both candidates and employees will attract a higher quantity and quality of candidates - something which will become increasingly important in a job-heavy market. A positive candidate experience combined with a strong employer brand will ensure your company appeals to the very best tech talent out there. This not only makes it easier to fill current vacancies, but creates a pipeline of talent eager to work for you, making recruitment much easier going forwards.

You also have to look at the positive impact on employee retention. Candidates who have had a positive recruitment experience are much more likely to bring that positivity with them when they start the role, as they’ll feel respected, committed and in line with the brand’s values. This initial positive experience can set the tone for their entire tenure, leading to more productive employees, higher levels of engagement and lower staff turnover. Clearly, a positive candidate experience can have productive and favourable outcomes long after the initial interview process.

When looking at your recruitment process, you not only need to consider how you can enhance the experience for individual applicants, but how you can build a truly sustainable and scalable recruitment process that can propel the organisation forwards. Things to consider implementing to help strengthen your recruitment process include incorporating diversity and inclusion, a strong employer brand and maintaining positive relationships with candidates - even those that haven’t been successful.

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a hot topic at the moment, but incorporating this into your interview process is paramount. It’s not just about ticking a box - it’s about creating a candidate experience where people from all backgrounds believe they can genuinely flourish at your company. A diverse workforce is key to fostering innovation, creativity and a dynamic work environment, but if your candidate experience isn’t up to scratch, you won’t attract a diverse array of applicants. Actively seeking to attract diverse applicants not only increases and enhances your talent pool, it signals to the world that your company places a high value on equity and representation. Effectively incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into your interview process requires thought and consideration being given to every stage of the process, from job descriptions that appeal to a broad audience, to interview panels that accurately reflect the diversity you’re trying to attract.

Continuous training and development for your talent team is also crucial, particularly in tech, where new trends and best practices, as well the expectations of techies, are constantly shifting. Regular seminars, workshops and training sessions are required to equip your talent team with the latest tools and knowledge. You should be looking to keep your talent team constantly updated and fine-tuned to put them in the best position to provide an exceptional candidate experience and stay ahead of your competitors. If they start to fall behind others in terms of their knowledge and awareness of shifts in market trends, your candidate experience will start to follow suit.

You shouldn’t neglect a strong candidate simply because they weren’t successful in their initial application, and maintaining these relationships is a powerful yet often overlooked strategy. Building and nurturing these relationships can lead to future opportunities, as you’re creating a network of techies that feel positive about your company, and they’ll pass this on to their fellow techies. You also see many techies who, through a combination of self-learning and taught courses, rapidly improve their skill set, or build a lot of knowledge in a niche sector or language. Despite not being the best applicant for the role they applied for, you never know when you could have a vacancy that they could be a perfect fit for. However, if they’ve had a negative initial candidate experience, you’re already on the back foot when it comes to getting them interested. Regular updates, check-ins and personalised communication can help keep the connections warm and ready for when the right opportunity arises.

Another way you can strengthen your candidate experience is by seeing your employer brand as the cornerstone of attracting the best tech talent. Your reputation isn’t just built through the comms and marketing campaigns you publish; the authentic, positive experiences of your candidates are arguably more powerful. Your employer brand is also your opportunity to show off your culture, working practices, and commitment to issues such as the aforementioned diversity, equity and inclusion. Clearly, placing a heavy emphasis on candidate experience is key to building a strong employer brand.

Whilst you may feel like you have an abundance of candidates to choose from at the moment, and subsequently not be giving much attention to your candidate experience, this is a little short-sighted, as the market will inevitably revert back to a job-heavy one in the near future. Now’s the time to prepare for this shift by ensuring your building a strong and future-proof candidate experience. It’s never too early to start, and the earlier you do so, the bigger the advantage you can hold over your competitors, and if you wait until everyone else realises that this shift has occurred, you’re going to find yourself behind the curve. The future of tech recruitment is almost upon us, and those ready to prioritise candidate experience will be the ones leading the way when it happens.

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