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Understanding the Candidate Journey

Recruiters are your guide through the hiring process and want you to be successful. In this talk, we will dive deep into the candidate journey - from the moment you apply until the ink has dried. Knowing what to expect can lead to a more relaxed, happy, and healthy interview process.

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Transcript

Cool. Well, thank you. Hello, all. I will just try to keep you entertained. Bear with me. I know I'm the third one in our wonderful crowd today. Actually, for this talk, I want to thank you the previous speakers, because I'm a recruiter, so I will be talking to you at least from another side today.

And it is always interesting to see this two-way connection, or to hear the feedback from the people who work with LinkedIn platform, and with the people who are in the hiring manager's side, and so on, so, just a little bit about me.

My name is Ludmila, or Lumi. I live in Finland. I've been travelling around the world. My main language nowadays is English, but I can try to speak any other languages. Feel free to connect to me in my LinkedIn. You can find me on any other platforms, but I would say LinkedIn is the one where I'm the most active. I'm working mostly in the tech recruitment, and today, my talk will be in many cases reflecting the tech world, as it is just like my experience that happened for the past six years.

I call myself a recruiter, a talent acquisition partner, sourcer, Finnish language can be one of the superskills! And I'm on the mission here to humanise a bit a picture of the recruiter, to tell you about what is going on another side as there is often this in-between layer, we are often seeing the person that stands between the candidate and the career, and the actual candidate and the person who wants to talk to you.

Today, I'm representing the company I'm working at, we are really active with the open source, and I'm absolutely adoring the idea to build your personal brand into the open source, and because to the open source in general.

I want to set out what we're going to talk today. I want the talk to be useful for you. I want you to leave, or after listening to this talk to have the ideas to think about, actionable points, to understand what is behind the thing to understand what you can expect from the candidate journey, actually to understand what is happening behind the curtain pretty much. As well I will leave a few recommendations, like actionable points what you can start doing right now. The plan of action, feel free to ask any questions, or feel free to leave any comments, and as I said, connect.

At the beginning, I would love a share a bit the glossary, or to explain what is a talent acquisition partner. Nowadays it's a very popular term. Recruiters, HR, we've been named differently. Recently, we became the talent acquisition partner, and I personally like this term the better, because a recruiter is someone who just recruits. Talent acquisition recruiters are HR people. The one who is helping this process.

We do way more than just recruiting. We are the ones who are connected to you, to the candidate, we are the ones who are connected to the hiring managers. We are the ones who are connecting to the business. In the best-case scenario, we are the ones who know the market, the ones who are co-ordinating. We are the ones helping the whole process to go smooth. When I'm talking about the whole process, it can be quite long, or it can be quite short - it depends on the candidate.

I will give you a very general structure. So how the journey of the job opening starts. We are having the kick-off. The hiring people, the one that we have a discussion, how long does it take to hire someone? When do we need the person? They're often, "We need someone yesterday", or during this discussion, we actually are putting down the point that buzzwords, how do we look for the ideal candidate?

Where do we look for the ideal candidate? What will be the there must-have or good-to-have? With this information, we are going to screen candidates. With this information, we will head-hunt candidates, or source candidates.

That's why also I put in my slide the active candidates and passive candidates. If you're talking about the people who are actively looking for a job, you're an active candidate, the one who is keeping up to date the LinkedIn profile, but as well we are talking to the passive candidates, the ones that we are looking at on the LinkedIn, or any other social media.

The buzzwords that have been mentioned before in two previous talks and sessions, this is something that you want to pay attention to, and I also will tell you about it a bit more in a moment. The process, we are the ones connecting you to the process. We are the ones there to advise you about the next steps, to explain to you what is expected on the next. We are the ones connect ing you to the right people. We are your source of the information. Please, use it.

And the closing is usually, the decision-making, whether it is a positive or a negative decision, whether it is a decision about the hiring, use that moment as well for the future. It is always positive, because you already went through the process. You met people. Please do connect with the people for the future. If something didn't work right now, think about it, about the future investment. The most precious thing we have is our time - the time you spend talking to someone, the time you spend applying for another job. This time is valuable, and that can be used in the future.

We did get a bit insight on the LinkedIn algorithms in a previous takl. This is amazing. This is how you can use it in the future. The job that you haven't got today might be your job tomorrow, or it might be a great step or connection, one application can be a good connection to the next job. And I will actually go a bit more into details here and the recommendations, and when we go through every step, and through the journey.

I'm a really big fan of the candidate journey, because I do believe that even though for us talent acquisition partners and recruiters, our stakeholder is business, thinking how to hire the best candidates for the business, but as well as as well for us, it's our job, our time, we need to find the right people. Why would we invest our time to convince people to go to the job that will not work for them? In that sense, my advice goes both ways for recruiters, and for those who are looking for a job.

So, before interview, before they process, think what you're looking for, during today's conversations or today's talks, there was really good advice about making the research.

Think about what you're looking for, about the place you want to work, the culture, the people. I would advise you to put it on a list. Write down on a list what is important for you. Are you looking to change your career? Are you looking for the culture in the company? Are you looking for relocation? List it down what are the top priorities.

List down the questions that you want to ask. As I messaged before during the explaining of the candidate journey, we are there for you. We are there to give you information. We are there to be answer what feels like sometimes uncomfortable questions, but we are there to have this open discussion, because better we get connected, better information flow we get from you, and you get from us.

We are not mind-readers, we're not an obstacle in your way, we are a supporter, there to send your message to the hiring managers, and we are there to make your process, your hiring process as smooth as possible.

So, before the interview, I would recommend not only to have the list of what you're looking for, what they are expecting, think about the company where you're applying. Do you have a good clear CV? Resume, or like the cover letter, again, it's my personal experience, I look through hundreds and hundreds of CVs every day. The more clear CVs a CV is for me, the recommendation letter, it's better to have it, but if it is bad, it's better not to have it, if you understand what I it mean? If you have a good explanation of your motivation and why you're applying, add it on. If it adds value to your CV, add it on. If it doesn't add any value, maybe it is better to just keep it.

You got great advice from the previous speakers about LinkedIn how you can have the presence, and that is what I'm telling you: think what you're looking for. Do you want to build your presence? Use those buzzwords, use the words that you can be found with. If you want to hide yourself, don't use those words! That is how the algorithm works as well.

If you got tired of being all the time getting attracted to the recruiters sending you hundreds of spam messages, think how you can hide and have your CV, but write it down simply as if you're not open for that conversation right now.

Going back to before interview, take at least ten minutes before you enter the interview to read who you actually are talking to, what the company is doing. You don't have to go to the details. It will show your motivation. It will show that you actually know what you're doing, but, again, just I can give you examples from my personal life.

I did have the interview where across like ten or 15 minutes, I realised the candidate is completely blurring out, the candidate doesn't understand the questions I'm asking, and I was interviewing the candidate for the data engineer, when the candidate was a technical product manager. That was the most embarrassing moment probably in my career.

That's why the advice goes both ways: take your time ten minutes before the interview. Read actually what you're applying for, what you're talking about, and what you're looking for. During the interview, this is your starting point. This is your moment to ask questions. There are dos and don'ts. Remember that the recruiters, we are doing our job. Remember about the GDPR. Remember about the information that you don't have to provide because we are actually really strict about the inclusiveness, we are really strict about the personal information. Recruiters do not need the information about your religious, political, family situation. You can keep it to yourself.

Of course I cannot tell you do not share that, but think about the information you're sharing as value-adding. Is it adding the value to that conversation that you will be sharing, that you have something outside of the world? We're not stopping you about that, but if someone is asking you that, you have the absolute right to say that you don't want to answer you that question because no-one has a right to ask those questions, and it has to be somewhere written as an ethics as well across all the recruiters' jobs. There are just areas that we do not ask.

At the same time, we do have the areas, or the questions that we do ask, and usually I personally do explain why I'm asking those questions. If it is a relocation case, I will ask whether it is the only one person relocates with a partner, or if they have kids or animals.

In that sense, I'm gathering information that we know how many to relocate, but I would explain why I'm asking those questions, that I will never ask questions that are not relevant to the job, or like not relevant to the case. And, again, I would advise you to set your barriers, and if someone asks the questions which are inappropriate, just say that you're not going to answer them. You have absolute right there.

Also, the interview, it is your moment to ask questions: salary. I did love this question about that what should I have asked you and I haven't? I do use it a lot. Usually. Puzzles people, and they get relaxed, and they do give me some information that they missed, or I haven't asked them, and they came up with it. The salary usually is a subject that is very difficult to talk about. It can be cultural, it can be aggressive sometimes how much you're going to pay. Remember, recruiters are the messenger. Don't shoot the messenger. At the best case scenario, we do have the ... discussing with you, talking to the tech people, I'm not a technical person myself, but I'm a personal people person, so I do talk to people all the time.

I have three, four, five interviews a day, so I'm more or less aware of the salary ranges, more or less aware of optimal levels, but I will never price-tag you, or never tell you that you're a junior or a senior, and this is how much we will be paying you, because I cannot guarantee that, and I will not give you the warranties on something that I cannot provide.

I do advise you to prepare and set your mind on what you want to get, what was your expectation for the salary on the compensation, what is important for you in the company, and speak about it openly. I do understand when you're looking for a job, and you're not sure about your positioning, it might be quite difficult, so you can go a bit around and ask recruiters' recommendations, or ask for the fork, but I do recommend you to do the homework and do the research in your area, and how much you would love to earn, because nowadays the money's also not the driver, or like not the main driver, it is also about the company, and the values, and other aspects that you're looking for.

Follow up: don't be she. We are people. We don't bite. And we are people. We are forgetting things. On my table is to talk to the hiring manager, to talk to the candidate, to follow up the candidate, to send the home assignment, to remind about the home assignment, to pick up the home assignment, to ask to review the home assignment. It might be easily that I forgot to follow up with you. I'm really, really sorry you are one of those candidates that I didn't get back to you within the first 24 or 48 hours.

But I do as well tell to all my candidates, if you feel that we are missing something, you have follow-up questions, you have a great question about what to expect from the next stage. Please do send that question. We do try to make your journey as smooth as possible. We will walk you through every step to tell you what is the expectation from the next call that you prepared, that you know who you're going to be talking to.

We do forget about things. It just leaves out of the calendars towards the Slack channels, or the email, and I'm notifications looking for excuses, I'm just really advising you to follow up. As well, you have absolutely the right to ask for the feedback. If the journey went not the direction you wished for, that you haven't received the job that you're looking for, you still have the right to have a feedback. Again, please, do not shoot the messenger. Do not shoot the recruiter. Do not ask why exactly you see that I haven't done well because I'm - very often we are collecting the information from the team members and summarising it and giving you a summary that you can use for the future. For the next steps.

And stay connected with us, and as I said before, and as we have seen already, we learn about the LinkedIn algorithm, it might be that right now, we don't have something that fits, but it will fit in the next several months, something comes up. My fellow recruiter from another company has something that fits better for you.

It's in my best interest to find something for you that not only excites you, but actually gives you the opportunity to go for work, and see, because it's not in my interests to spend my time and hire you and you're unhappy for the first three months, and you leave for another company. We're their partners as well.

In that sense, we work hand in hand, and if they say connected, you never know, I might also change the candidate we have for the next company as well. So the connection always do matter.

So, for the next actionable points, or actual advice, research, plan, think also about this lead that I mention before, that you have the link for the conversations, write down the answers. It will keep you, help you to keep attraction what you discussed, sometimes, there are some interesting ideas that come up during the conversations. I do that as well. I'm not looking for the job actively, but I go for interviews if someone calls up.

I do apply for the jobs if I see interesting companies, just to practise this, to be on that side as being a part of the candidate journey. I do write a list, I do advise people to practise and practise and practise. For this expectations, the research do build your brand, do put it into the LinkedIn, do create your own personal website if you have a chance, if you have interest in that. More visible you are in the social media, it is easier to find you. If you use the buzzwords, it is easier for us to find you again. If you don't want to be found, you can hide the words.

We are as recruiters, very often using the LinkedIn licences, where the recruiter licence search, and we do know as well that some software engineers misspell the engineers on purpose so there are many variations of the engineer spelling that we will try to find you. We will look for the results for whatever possible naming there is, but, again, if you want to be found, build it in a way that you can be found.

There is very often about the question about the C CVs and resumes, whether you have to write it personalised to each company. My advice there to write one CV, or your LinkedIn is the best CV where you can make it everything. Once you are replying to CVs, try to personalise it to each. Of course, if you're replying actively, it's hundred and hundreds. It is not that easy, but once you have your Lego blocks in the separate documents, it's easier than to put it down to one CV.

Remember that recruiters read hundreds of CVs every day, that we look diagonally. It has to be clean, it has to be fast to read, it has to be understandable, it has to have this language and the words that go catch our attention. And these Lego blocks will help you actually personalise your CV and change it according to the different jobs.

Personal branding, as I said, think about what you're missing, whether you are missing communication skills, whether you're not comfortable with talking to recruiters. I think if you need some mentorship, think if you need actually to go to interviews more often just to get the skills talking to other people. Talk to recruiters, join our communities, see it from another side. Think about hard skills and soft skills. Build up, thinking not about what you have now, but what you want to have. What is there that you would love to do and you don't do now? If there is something missing, how you can achieve it there.

Presence, as I said, and all of that, it is something important to be visible there. It is something to be connected with the recruiters, because we - we tend to be empathic, if we can't hire you, we try to hire you with others. Apply, accept, talk, engage. Do it. Just do it! Be actionable!

And one last piece of advice for during the interview, I use it myself as well: if you get nervous, and you need time to breathe, or need time to think, keep a glass of water with you at the table. Someone is asking some uncomfortable question, or you need just a moment to put your mind together, to put yourselves together, say, "Wonderful question!" Take your glass of water. Sip it. Take your time. Slow down. Relax. We know it can be shaky, but it is shaky from our side as well.