The Year of the Candidate: How Recruiters Can Focus on Candidate Experience through Accessibility

DirectEmployers has dubbed 2017 the “Year of the Candidate” – and for good reason. The DirectEmployers 2017 Annual Meeting and Conference (DEAM17) emphasized that good human resources professionals don’t focus just on regulatory compliance. They are brand ambassadors who prioritize creating an effective and enjoyable customer experience for applicants in order to find and attract the best talent. Naturally, universally designed technologies for eRecruiting and workplace use are a critical aspect of this goal.

DEAM17 attracted more than 400 industry professionals who converged in Indianapolis to learn recruitment best practices and using social media as a recruiting tool, OFCCP compliance, diversity and more. Speakers included Unilever, GE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as representatives from the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), who offered the following highlights.

Customized hiring experiences find great candidates

Speakers at DEAM17 advised hiring managers to customize the hiring experience to recruit the best candidates. Through social media and other factors, the candidate hiring process shapes how recruits experience a company before they set foot in the door. Sessions by CareerArc and Unilever underscored the return on investment of investing fully in a good customer experience for jobseekers, including accessibility as a critical component.

The role of technology at DEAM17                                      

In a world where technology permeates every aspect of the workplace, accessibility and technology are virtually indistinguishable. And as Unilever noted, accessibility must be a key consideration at the beginning of the process. Not only does technology allow greater flexibility for employees in terms of options for accommodations, it also provides the employer a powerful tool for recruiting talented individuals. Accessibility is a critical component of ensuring that businesses can successfully reach the top candidates, including passive candidates. Employers who want to cast the widest net possible and attract the best candidates for their open positions would be wise to ensure that they are employing accessible technology in all aspects of their operations.

Johnny Campbell, CEO of Social Talent, discussed how to keep biases in mind to ensure that you aren’t excluding everyone. He challenged participants to consider the needs of everyone – not just the “average user.” As Denis Boudreau has discussed, “average” users are probably only 30 percent of an organization’s user base when considering older individuals, people on mobile devices and people with diverse conditions. Because they all have different needs, providing a flexible user experience is key.

A recruiter’s eye towards veteran hires

As numerous service members involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan retire from the military, there is an opportunity for today’s employers to help these individuals find a second career in the civilian workforce. A number of panelists at DEAM17 focused on this particular talent pool and why it benefits companies to connect with and hire veterans.

The top takeaways from PEAT and EARN

PEAT and EARN hosted a panel titled “Talent Matters: Leveraging Disability-Inclusive Outreach & Recruitment Strategies” that delivered the following takeaways:

  1. In an economy where finding qualified employees can be a challenge, diversifying your workforce can be a strategy for success. Hire talented people with disabilities and veterans who are ready to help your business’s bottom line.
  2. Accessibility improves the experience for all job seekers and employees, and helps you find and retain top talent in general. For example, a job portal that is not accessible closes the main pipeline of talent to many people with disabilities.
  3. Making things accessible is easier than most think, but it requires staff training and an investment in a top-down commitment to workplace inclusion.
  4. There are numerous resources out there – EARN and PEAT are just two examples – to help organizations foster inclusive, accessible workplaces.

In conclusion

DEAM17 addressed more disability-related topics than ever before, reflecting human resources professionals’ increased interest in disability-inclusion strategies. However, the conference also reminded attendees that one size does not fit all – each company is at a different point on their own unique path to best practices for disability inclusion. Organizations like PEAT and EARN are available to assist employers at all points on the continuum, providing plain language resources on ways to tap the incredible value and talent that people of all abilities bring to the workplace.


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