The Candidate Journey Begins at Attraction, not Application

How Fiserv revamped its candidate experience

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer November 10, 2016

Julia Levy, director of recruiting operations at Fiserv, speaking at SmashFly Transform.

BOSTON—Determining where a candidate's journey begins can have a big impact on attracting and hiring the right people.

Candidate experience is one of the buzziest phrases in talent acquisition these days but does it just apply to candidates? Julia Levy, director of recruiting operations at Fiserv, a financial services technology firm based in Brookfield, Wis., says no. "It's not just about the one person you hire. It's also about the 99 others that applied and the 50 others who saw your site or job posting and didn't even bother to apply," she told attendees at SmashFly Transform, a conference focused on the emerging discipline of recruitment marketing.

Previously, Fiserv was poorly served with an antiquated careers site and reactive recruiting strategy in the post and pray mold. The team relied on job boards and had limited metrics to benchmark their performance. But the company was determined to provide a "white glove" candidate experience, Levy said.

So how do you create a personalized, compelling candidate experience that converts a lead into a hire? Candidates are savvy, and it takes research across the different stages of the candidate journey to understand how to engage and nurture them for the right role. "We conducted focus groups with hiring managers and new hires, looked at data from candidates and researched consumer marketing practices," Levy said.

Gaining Executive Advocacy

Before she did anything else she took the research along with a formulated plan and presented it to executives for buy-in. "We explained why we thought candidate experience is important, and how we planned to move the needle in certain areas to make the biggest difference," she said. "We asked for their support. Our senior HR leadership had an 'ah ha' moment because talent is so important." Improving candidate experience was added to the senior executive operating plan and is now tied in to performance at that level.

Training Recruiters, Hiring Managers

Levy and her team partnered with the company's learning and development unit to create a training program for hiring managers, recruiters and sourcers around candidate experience. "We needed to make sure we defined what candidate experience is for Fiserv, and then communicate and train on it," she said. "We gave them brand training, so that everyone can be talking on point with similar messaging to candidates."

Two hundred and fifty hiring managers have been through the training thus far. Recruiting resources have also been made available. "We came up with tutorials on how to write a better job posting and gamified the experience around personalization and communication on LinkedIn to help get better response rates from outreach," she said. "Training has helped recruiters personalize their messages to candidates based on personality profiling. Someone you've reached out to 2-3 times and weren't able to get may get hooked in because you're speaking more clearly to their personality style."

Updating the Careers Site

Fiserv's previous careers site was "stodgy," according to Levy. It had stock photos, and no SEO strategy, editorial content, talent community form or clear call to apply.

"We just did a three-day onsite photo and video shoot with a variety of employees to replace stock photos with authentic and compelling real world stories," she said. The company now has about 12-15 different videos that are being scripted from interviewing about 45 employees and hundreds of employee photos. "We'll have this library of authentic content of images and soundbites to up our recruitment marketing and social media efforts," Levy said.

Personalizing the Experience

Personalization is the "make or break around candidate experience and making them aware of your brand," Levy said.

To that end, Fiserv is:

  • Retargeting ads to potential candidates who check out the site but don't apply. "We're also targeting people with similar social profiles," she said. "You need to get your brand in front of someone seven times to make them conscious of it."
  • Surveying candidates throughout the entire recruiting process at each conversion stage, customized to where they are on the journey.     
  • Revamping the recruiting coordinator's interaction with candidates. "They act like personal concierges and are hands-on to candidate needs," she said.

The company's attention to the candidate's journey is paying off, according to Levy. Eighty-six percent of candidates said they are likely or extremely likely to refer friends or family to Fiserv.

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