Organizations are facing one of the largest talent shortages since 2007. In fact, a  ManpowerGroup report indicated that 40 percent of the more than 42,000 employers surveyed indicated they were having a difficult time filling positions.

When Manpower dug a little deeper, it found the top reasons driving the frustration included: 

  • A lack of available applicants 
  • A lack of experience 
  • A lack of hard skills 
  • Seeking more pay than is offered 
  • A lack of soft skills 

In a market where many organizations are vying for the same talent, the companies that consistently come out on top differentiate themselves above and beyond their job descriptions. Whereas the work may be similar from company to company, the experiences job seekers have throughout the hiring process can be the little nuances that give you a leg up on your competition and position your organization as an employer of choice.

This process of focusing on creating a favorable impression of your organization through the talent acquisition phase is known as the candidate experience -- and it's getting a lot of attention. 

A 2017 Deloitte report revealed that nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience as very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent). However, only 22 percent said that their companies were excellent at building differentiated employee experiences. 

As the market shifts in the candidate's favor, so should your processes. Here are the three "E's" Deloitte says are needed to design a great candidate experience

1. Empathy 

One of the easiest ways to get the wheels turning is to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective candidates. Back when you were applying, interviewing, or being onboarded, what were some of the thoughts coursing through your mind? What were some of the moments that mattered the most to you? 

Overall, it's a vulnerable time for many. They are outside their comfort zones and are looking for validation that they made the right decision. Ensuring your process acknowledges and empathizes with these feelings creates an environment that is psychologically safer--one in which prospective employees could see themselves fitting in the future.  

The best candidate experiences consider the thoughts and feelings of their applicants and design processes to either mitigate anxieties or boost confidence. 

2. Envisioning 

In others words, try to foresee any issues or hiccups that could happen along the way. No matter how hard we try, no process will be free of mistakes. It's important to have a system in place that can quickly adapt to and address problems as they surface. Planning for the wide range of possibilities will give your organization a series of options to craft potential solutions. 

Designing a bulletproof candidate experience may be impossible. However, preparing your organization for the worst by envisioning as many potential issues as you can will keep you on the path to innovation.   

3. Experimenting

The truth is, you'll never know the true impact of your process unless you solicit feedback from others. Although it's scary to open yourself up to criticism, "customer" input is vital to refining your candidate experience and successfully differentiating your organization from others. 

When you're dealing with people, you have to be willing to try new things and test different solutions. There will never be a one-size-fits-all experience that speaks to every candidate. Give it your best shot, manage the associated risks, and continue to tweak your candidate experience by experimenting with new ideas. 

Focusing on these three E's will help you build an experience that places your candidates at the center of your talent management processes. Once considered, you should take your new perspective and follow this Deloitte framework for creating an irresistible experience: 

  1. Align -- Develop an experience that's aligned with your company's values and talent strategies.
  2. Focus -- Define your organization's brand and its unique selling proposition from end to end. Ensure they are communicated and clarified throughout the candidate experience. 
  3. Execute -- Implement a series of prioritized initiatives to ensure desired results and experiences are achieved. 
  4. Measure -- You can't improve what you can't measure. Invest in feedback mechanisms to uncover program enhancements. 

Using this information to design more intentional experiences for your candidates will ensure your organization retains the ability to attract and retain top talent.