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  • Writer's pictureBen Jackson

Cogency features on the ISE podcast

This month Cogency’s Managing Director, Ben Jackson, was in conversation with Stephen Isherwood from the Insitute of Student Employers along with James Gordanifar, Head of Student Talent Attraction, EY.


The ISE podcast outlines Cogency’s recent research report, Candidate Experience in the Covid Economy, and frames it in the context of early talent. Ben gives his expert opinion on the research findings while James reveals practical examples of how he has seen the industry change throughout the pandemic.


You can listen to the podcast in full here or read on to discover what they discussed.


Ghosting is an industry-wide issue.


With 12% of all job seekers (20% of 16–17-year-olds and 15% of Black candidates) saying they had no contact or feedback in the recruitment process, Ben suggested that the issue of ghosting is widespread and not just a symptom of the pandemic. He revealed how technology can simplify labor-intensive tasks and impact the candidate experience by helping applicants feel valued and supported, while also building an employer brand.

James suggested that supporting early talent is particularly important when they don’t have prior experience of the working world. He explained what EY have done to support early talent in the application process: “We have invested in technology to give meaningful insight and feedback on how to do well in the assessments”.


Get clever with your storytelling to impact diversity.


When asked if diverse recruitment has got easier or harder throughout the pandemic, James suggested that thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement the dialogue internally, “has gone to a whole new level and has a new momentum behind it, although there’s still more to do”.


Ben agreed that there is a lot that employers can do to ensure their recruitment process is as inclusive as possible. “The user experience on your site and how we make it really intuitive for people from all different backgrounds… has a huge impact on attracting more diverse candidates,” said Ben.


He went on to introduce the concept of sequential storytelling which “is all about engaging people in a series of developing pieces of content that add up to one really nice developing story”. This allows people who may be more cautious to consume bite-size content and return later. A particularly useful strategy when engaging with candidates from low socio-economic backgrounds who may be initially put off by a corporate environment.


He challenges employers to be clever about the stories they tell and how they tell them to engage people before they come into the formal application process.


The battle to attract


With women 38% more likely than men to accept a role they’ve been offered, the challenge to achieve a balanced gender workforce is one of attraction for many employers.


While attracting more female candidates can be a constant battle for professional services firms like EY, James explained how the pandemic pushed them to experiment with virtual events and allowed them to cover topics that would appeal to specific demographics in a way they couldn’t do face-to-face on campus. Their celebrity wellbeing campaign saw 75% of engagement come from women for instance.


Avoiding employee attrition


The pandemic has meant employers need to work harder than ever to onboard new recruits, support them to succeed, and avoid attrition. This is especially true as 78% of new recruits surveyed by Cogency were either still actively looking for a new role or had not yet decided whether to stay with their new employer long term.


While EY had seen an increase in applications throughout the pandemic, due to the nature of the application process it was unlikely it was going to affect the type of candidate they offered to. That said, James admitted there was a recognition that EY could have done more to onboard new early talent in the virtual landscape. They are now working on a first 90 days onboarding plan, introducing buddy systems, and planning for a return to office life.


The future of technology for talent attraction.


The biggest area jobseekers singled out as needing improvement from Cogency’s research was the application process. As it takes on average 50 minutes to apply for a role, it’s perhaps not surprising that this was identified as such a concern. Ben said technology has a massive part to play here, but the challenge is about understanding the staggering array of technology out there from chatbots to applicant tracking systems and everything in between.


His biggest piece of advice? Don’t just go out and buy a new piece of technology because you think what you currently have is broken. Instead, really understand your process, get feedback from your different target audiences and design an experience to give them compelling content and support. “Think about your tech in a more holistic way and this will provide your HR and recruitment teams with a more streamlined experience”.





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