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10 Pitfalls To Avoid When Building the Perfect Digital Recruitment Strategy

It’s highly likely that many aspects of your organization’s recruitment process are already digital.

No doubt you already search for talent online, post your ads on digital job boards, and communicate electronically with candidates. Perhaps you’re conducting virtual interviews or have digitized your remote onboarding process.

But can you honestly say you have a digital recruitment strategy? Not having a strategy means you’ll struggle to plan ahead and fail to realize the benefits of digital transformation in recruitment, such as cost savings, shorter time-to-hire, improved analytics, and – most of all – hiring better talent. 

In this article, we’ll provide you with ten pitfalls to avoid when building the perfect digital or online recruitment strategy.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article

  • What is a digital recruitment strategy?
  • Aligning with business objectives
  • Acquiring the right tools
  • Gathering feedback
  • Improving the candidate experience
  • Balancing automation and the human touch
  • Training the team in digital recruitment software
  • Mirroring your consumer brand
  • Tracking and acting upon data
  • Incorporating skill-testing into your digital hiring process
  • Staying flexible

What is a digital recruitment strategy?

A digital recruitment strategy is a plan of the actions and decisions your organization will make to reach your recruitment goals by leveraging digital technology. The strategy should show how you intend to use technology and the internet for candidate discovery, sourcing, screening, selecting, hiring, and onboarding.

Like any investment in digital transformation, there are several pitfalls to avoid if organizations intend to get the most out of their digital recruitment strategies. Risks include misalignment with the broader business, investing in the wrong tools, neglecting the candidate experience, and failing to train the team in digital hiring tools.

10 pitfalls to avoid in digital recruitment

Research from Boston Consulting Group found that 70% of companies fall short of their digital transformation objectives, with consequences including lost investment, organizational effort, and wasted time. Failure also leads to the companies falling behind in process efficiency and innovation, along with customer (candidate) engagement.  

Let’s look at ten mistakes to avoid in digital hiring to boost the chances of success at your organization.

1. Failing to align your digital recruitment strategy with the wider organization

One of the biggest mistakes any transformation manager can make is to fail to align with the wider business.

For example, a HR leader in a large organization may spend many months (and a great deal of money) acquiring the technology and building the digital processes that will make recruiting faster and cheaper.

Unfortunately for this HR manager, the executive team’s focus is elsewhere. They need a digital recruitment strategy that will source higher-quality talent and increase the diversity of the workforce. In their view, although the strategy has led to improvements in two important recruitment metrics, it has failed to address two major organizational goals.

The result? Wasted money, lost time, useless tools, disgruntled employees, and damaged reputations.

It’s crucial, therefore, to make sure your digital recruitment strategy is aligned. This might involve getting leadership commitment to the transformation from the very beginning, conducting a thorough review of all stakeholder requirements throughout the business, and driving change using an agile, iterative process that ensures the project stays aligned at all times. Establishing clear metrics and targets will help monitor progress towards defined outcomes.

Finally, be aware that circumstances and priorities change, which means a set-and-forget approach to business alignment will not work. Make sure your digital recruitment strategy stays aligned with the business. The business may adapt to changing circumstances, or a new CEO may come in with a new set of priorities, which means that your digital hiring process will need to be adjusted to pivot to a new group of goals and targets.

Establish a plan for regular business alignment reviews at manageable intervals, such as once every 18 months.

2. Investing in the wrong digital recruitment tools

Investing in the wrong digital tools in recruitment risks a lot more than wasted money. You’ll also waste time and energy, the goodwill of the people you’ve asked to adapt to the tool, and the candidate experience may also suffer.

HR leaders could choose the wrong tool for several reasons. These include: failing to do their research in terms of stakeholder needs, selecting an unaligned tool to enterprise-level goals, or being convinced by a skilled salesperson to buy an expensive IT solution with several modules that will never be used. Research from 1E found that U.S. organizations wasted $30 billion on unused software throughout a four-year study.

Other mistakes to avoid are; investing in hiring software that doesn’t integrate with tools in your TA tech stack (such as your ATS or ERP), choosing software that is difficult to use, lacks customizability, isn’t secure and scalable, or is simply too expensive and will take too long to provide an ROI.

It would be great if recruitment technology was a one-time investment. Still, the reality is that all technology requires continual evaluation, updating, upgrading, and replacement – and your digital recruitment strategy must allow for this. Taking a modular approach to your IT architecture will make this process easier, as components of the tech stack can be swapped out as necessary. Reasons for upgrading or replacing technology could include software becoming outdated, no longer meeting users’ needs, business priorities changing, or a better product appearing on the market.

3. Failing to gather feedback on your digital recruitment processes

One of the pillars of your digital recruitment strategy should be a commitment to continuous improvement. But you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Neglecting to gather feedback will severely restrict your visibility and understanding of how well your tools are performing. Without feedback, you won’t know what is working well, what isn’t working at all, where the bottlenecks are, and where to make targeted improvements.

Yet, a survey by Lever found that 78% of job seekers reported never having been asked for feedback on their candidate experience.

There are two ways to gather feedback on the digital recruitment experience.

The first step is to ask for direct feedback from candidates and other users. This can be done with a survey when they’ve completed the process that asks them a few quick questions. How would they rate the experience? What did they enjoy the most? What did they like the least? Do they have any suggestions for improvements?

The second step is to look into the data that’s gathered by your digital solutions. For example, you may notice that a high percentage of users are failing to complete the online application process. Looking closer at the data can help you understand exactly why. Perhaps there’s a specific part of the process that is confusing, complicated or creates too much of a burden on the applicant’s time. Fixing this bottleneck will improve the candidate experience, leading to more completed applications, more candidates to choose from, and ultimately better hiring outcomes.

Keep in mind that the size of your dataset matters. If one or two people complain about an aspect of your digital application process, this is not enough data to justify taking action. But it’s certainly worth addressing if hundreds of applicants say the same thing.

4. Neglecting the candidate experience

HR managers must balance the needs of several different parties when designing their digital recruitment strategy. There are the needs of the HR team, the hiring manager’s requirements, the needs of any stakeholders who the hire will impact, and the needs of the wider business. Last (but certainly not least) is the needs of the candidates themselves.

Don’t make the mistake of designing a fantastic digital recruitment process for HR (fully automated, excellent analytical capabilities, etc.), but creates a suboptimal candidate experience.

Research by CareerBuilder found that 78% of candidates say the “overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people”. 

The ultimate measure of success for a digital recruitment process is to have even your unsuccessful candidates walk away feeling that it was a great experience.

Improve the candidate experience by:

  • 1. Ensuring your application process is optimized for mobile
  • 2. Communicate, communicate, communicate – keep candidates informed at every step of the process
  • 3. Ensure the website or recruitment tool is easy to use and intuitive
  • 4. Making your website or tool aesthetically pleasing while aligning with your brand
  • 5. Making the end-to-end process as fast and efficient for the applicant as possible
  • 6. Going 100% paperless
  • 7. Automating as much as possible but providing the option to contact a human if needed
  • 8. Gathering candidate feedback to enable continuous improvement
  • 9. Making sure the rejection letter for unsuccessful candidates is empathetic and encouraging

5. Losing the human touch when automating digital recruitment

If you intend to recruit at scale, you have three options.

  • 1. Employ a large internal hiring team
  • 2. Outsource to a recruitment agency
  • 3. Automate everything

If you choose to go down the automation route, don’t make the mistake of sacrificing humanity for efficiency. Even if AI runs your software, this doesn’t mean that candidates should be treated like robots. Research from PWC revealed that 59% of consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.

So, how can you inject a bit of humanity into an automated recruitment process?

Firstly, look for steps in the process where you can replace automated messaging with human interaction. For example, you may choose to reach out to the small number of candidates who have been shortlisted for an interview via a personal email, phone, or video call. If the candidate has dealt entirely with automated processes up until this point, connecting with a real person will reassure them that your organisation values themorganization.

Similarly, you may choose to replace a one-way video interview with a live chat. The decision to keep a step in your recruitment process “human” depends on the scale of your operation; ensure that doing so doesn’t create an unrealistic burden on your team’s time.  

In a 100% automated digital recruitment process, a candidate may not talk with a human being until their first day of work. Everything – the application process, candidate communication, the one-way interview, skills testing, reference checking, and remote onboarding – has been automated. If this is the case, there are still ways to be “human” even in a fully automated environment.

For example, ensure your automated communications are written in a warm, friendly, and engaging tone. Even if you assign a candidate a number internally, never address them by this. There’s nothing more dehumanizing than receiving an email that begins with “Dear candidate number 100043”.

Invest in personalization. At its most superficial level, personalization means getting the candidate’s name right in an automated email. More sophisticated personalization involves offering a tailored experience based upon what your software knows about the candidate.

Invest in chatbots to deal with frequently asked questions, but always ensure candidates have a way to contact a human if needed easily.

Finally, apply for one of your company’s jobs to judge the experience yourself. Do you feel valued, or do you feel like a product being moved along a factory assembly line? Take a note of the steps that feel too robotic, and look for ways to make the technology unobtrusive and impart a human touch. 

6. Neglecting to train the team in digital recruitment software

Even the fanciest digital tools in recruitment will fail to provide an ROI if your team doesn’t know how to use them properly. Insufficient training was identified by Deloitte as one of the top 10 reasons IT implementations fail.

Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, save time and money by providing targeted training tailored to the user. For example, a hiring manager may only need to log in to check the candidate’s current status, but a talent acquisition professional (or a “power user”) will need deeper training in how to access and interpret the recruitment metrics gathered by the tool. Candidates, on the other hand, should be able to interact with your tools with no training at all.

Training could take several forms, ranging from a formal in-person or remote training session, an online course, providing access to a training pack, or on-the-job coaching.

7. Breaking with your brand

Your recruitment process should be an extension of your customer brand. Remember, candidates, are often your customers, too.

This means that your digital recruitment assets such as job ads, video hiring software, and your onboarding tool should all reflect the brand. This means getting the brand basics right: ensure visual brand assets are correctly used, such as the right logo, colors, and fonts.

Next, make sure the tone used in written communication matches that of your brand: does your organization communicate with its customers in a chatty, casual manner, or does it use a reasonably formal tone?

The candidate experience should align with customer expectations. If you’re a cutting-edge app developer, for example, a candidate will most likely expect an app-based process and would be surprised to receive paper forms in the post. 

Brand management is an exact science, so don’t try to guess at colors, fonts, etc, when configuring customer-facing recruitment software. Involve Marketing from the very beginning as you develop your digital recruitment strategy.

8. Failing to track and act upon hiring data

Digital recruitment technology unlocks the power of data analytics to help you track progress against key performance indicators (KPIs) and confirm whether or not the technology investment has led to the improvements you seek.

Use your digital solutions to track recruitment metrics, including source of hire, time to fill, cost per hire, quality of hire, applicants per hire, candidate experience, retention, and diversity

It’s no good simply gathering data if it isn’t put to use. Part of your digital recruitment strategy should include a plan of how you can convert data insights into action.

For example, if your data reveals there are too few applicants per hire, this may prompt increased investment in your online presence and a review of where your jobs are posted. If you have too many applicants per hire to cope with manually, you may choose to invest in end-to-end hiring process automation.

9. Not using a skills assessment to rank candidates

Creating a digital recruitment strategy provides you with an opportunity to hire based on merit, not on background.

Screening using resumés and job interviews is a hit-and-miss approach to hiring for three reasons. Firstly, many candidates are willing to stretch the truth about their skills in order to win a role. Secondly, the best resumé-writer or most confident interviewee won’t necessarily make the best employee. And finally, automated resumé screening can cause employers to inadvertently filter out top performers simply because they failed to include a keyword in their cover letter.

Little wonder that a Wall Street Journal survey of 900 executives found that 89% have a “very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes” using traditional hiring methods.

Instead, use skill testing to see people do the job, before they get the job. Predict on-the-job success by integrating skill-testing into your digital recruitment process. Skills testing can assess the true potential of a new hire to go the distance with your company by using different types of questions to gain a 360-degree view of how they will perform in different scenarios.

Ideally, the skills test will be the first step in your screening process. This means that by the time you launch the second step – such as the video interview – you’ll be working with a list of top candidates ranked for the skills relevant to the role. Skills tests should consist of a mix of technical skills and soft skills, such as communication and leadership.

Vervoe’s algorithm ranks candidates based on how well they performed but does not filter out candidates. The best candidates will rise to the top of the list, but no one misses out on being considered for the next round. 

Used correctly, a skills test will help you reach several of your digital recruitment strategy’s key targets including; better quality of hire, reduced time to fill, and lower cost-per-hire due to a reduced risk of needing to replace a poor hire. As with all candidate-facing hiring technology, it should be easy-to-use and prioritize the candidate experience.

10. Being inflexible

Finally, make sure your digital recruitment strategy is built to be agile. Technology is evolving at an incredible pace, which means your strategy should be set up in a way that it can keep pace while avoiding vendor lock-in. Similarly, the nature of work is changing rapidly with the rise of the gig economy, so it pays to avoid making long-term assumptions about your organization’s future hiring needs.

Make sure your digital strategy is a live document that is regularly updated rather than written once and put on a shelf. The most effective digital recruitment strategies have the built-in flexibility to learn from mistakes pivot at a moment’s notice as business requirements and priorities shift.

While some recruitment mistakes are inevitable, avoiding these ten pitfalls will help you develop a digital recruitment strategy that will boost efficiency, reduce costs, and improve hiring outcomes.

Hugo Britt

Hugo Britt

Hugo Britt is the founder of Discontent and leads a team dedicated to delivering top-value copywriting.With over five years of freelance experience, Hugo has established himself as a go-to content creator for businesses looking to connect with their audience and build their brand. Specializing in HRTech, he thrives on exploring the intersection between people and technology, offering tailored and targeted content solutions for both B2B and B2C clients. Prior to founding Discontent, Hugo served as a Content Director at Procurious and a Research Consultant at The Faculty Management Consultants Pty Ltd. He also held positions as a Communications Lead at Coles Supermarkets and a Project Manager and Series Editor at Insight Publications and Wild Dingo Press. Hugo's academic background includes a Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature from the University of Melbourne and a Master's Degree in Publishing and Editing from Monash University. With a passion for storytelling and a commitment to excellence, he's dedicated to helping businesses elevate their content strategy and achieve their goals.

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