Recruiting, Talent

Delivering on the Promise of a Better Candidate Experience

Having crossed the threshold into 2021, we’ve all been given an opportunity to better understand the impact COVID-19 had on our world. In some instances, we saw businesses that faced dire consequences and needed to shut down, while others pivoted models and thrived, like delivery services or remote work technologies. But one common theme rings true: These companies exist through the hard work of their employees.


This burden is still ongoing: People who kept the lights on during 2020 are still being asked to handle more than ever before. Essential workers in industries like airlines, hotels, retail, and more are juggling pandemic safety measures while bracing for the potential of reduced hours, pay cuts, or job loss.

We’re at a turning point and can’t afford to make the same mistakes in 2021 as we did in years past. This is an opportunity to accelerate and fix the issues with accessibility, technology gaps, or communication processes that have slowed progress for too long. As hourly workers will help move us all forward, here’s how hiring, Human Resources, and other functions can do their part to deliver the candidate experience they deserve.

Act with a Sense of Urgency That Values a Candidate’s Time

When a candidate applies for an hourly job, he or she is likely facing a redundant, confusing, and time-consuming process for each individual application. Job boards often ask for résumés, only to mandate that rows of data be entered manually, and then require you to upload files that might seem like they are disappearing into the void. On the other hand, organizations have “careers” pages, and internal applications might be outdated or ask for unnecessary information, which only slows down the process.

When considering all of the roadblocks in place, it’s easy to see how applicants may have missteps or abandon the process altogether. Frictionless experiences can begin by prioritizing mobile-first processes, as 70% of applicants start there. Then, ensure your process asks questions that impact the hiring decision; this might mean eliminating tasks like cover letters or résumés while focusing on experience, any necessary certifications, or background checks.

Embrace a Long-Term Mind-Set

The holiday rush is just one example of a time when organizations make a push for mass hiring. But the pandemic may have spurred new business operations, which meant managers needed to fill roles quickly this past year. It can be very easy to silo employees toward a specific role or task. Namely, a cashier or sales floor rep may only be considered for a certain position or time frame. But this perspective lacks empathy and hinders the opportunity for professional growth.

The traditional résumé for hourly jobs exacerbates this issue. One solution, which is often only utilized for salaried or white-collar employees, is a personality or skills assessment. From personality tests to mock experiences, these unique approaches can help uncover candidate strengths and weaknesses, which might make them a better fit for new roles or longer-term careers. Additionally, with these types of processes, applicants may get the sense they are not just part of the head count but rather are valued as part of a true team.

Understand the Changing Demographics of the Hourly Worker

The hourly employee isn’t tied to a specific generation or type of person. Applicants of all ages have been forced to reevaluate their next career move. While younger professionals may be more easily able to bounce back from job loss, retirement-age applicants are also seeking hourly employment. For businesses looking to tap into this workforce, the application process doesn’t have to rely on pre-COVID “best practices.” Older generations are just as, if not more, vulnerable to challenges of unemployment but may be perfectly suited to handle the tasks of an hourly job.

It’s imperative businesses understand the unique needs of each type of applicant and use their resources, technology, or otherwise to provide a positive candidate experience.

Keep Communication Streamlined and Consistent

Many of us have experienced the frustrations of applying for a job only to remain in a state of limbo. We’ve all wondered who, if anyone, will follow up on our application. While automation technologies have made life easier, they’ve also been a curse for the community of people who receive robotic and emotionless rejection letters. Responsiveness at any stage of the process, whether quick questions about daily expectations, uniforms, or hours or feedback on the next stages of the interview process, can provide peace of mind.

Taking Steps to a Better Future

One of the biggest takeaways from wrapping up 2020 is that we have the opportunity to make real change for the future of our industry. Keeping the applicant’s humanity as the center of your decision is an important place to start. Hiring has become such a bureaucratic process; instead, I encourage my industry colleagues to emphasize kindness, dignity, and care for jobseekers at every step. Whether optimizing questions asked in an interview, rethinking the types of candidates for positions, or implementing new communication methods, there are small steps that can add up to positive impacts on the people helping our world move forward.

Jerry Collier is Managing Director of the Product Division at AMS, the team responsible for imagining and launching Hourly, a new conversational hiring experience.