2020 is the year of the candidate experience
By Kirk Johnston (pictured), executive partner, Vaco

Over the past year, candidates have gotten bold. During the last recession, companies had the upper hand, and they got comfortable with taking their time. But this year, I saw multiple great organizations lose candidates and even new employees in their first weeks.
It’s no secret that candidates have had the upper hand for the last few years. Companies have had to adapt their benefits, compensation structure and culture to compete. But now candidates are getting comfortable. They’ve got options, and as up to 70 percent of them are passive (and not actively seeking a job), you’ll need to streamline your hiring process in 2020 or get left behind.


Simplify the job application.
If your online job portal takes hours to complete, candidates will likely abandon it. Nothing is more frustrating than having to upload a resume only to fill out that same information field by field on the next page. Keep it simple. In the time it takes one candidate to fill out an extensive application, another company may already be scheduling an interview.

Don’t make applicants wait weeks.
Previously, HR managers had the luxury of taking their time to collect all applications before choosing a handful to interview. Candidates would wait weeks and even months before interviewing. Times have changed. If an applicant has potential, contact them immediately and schedule an interview while your company is top of mind. Practice this sense of urgency after interviews, too. Don’t make a candidate wait more than a week for an answer, as they may be interviewing with other companies who offer more quickly.

Limit the number of interviews.
Candidates are busy. Don’t ask them to make three trips to your office to interview with three different executives. It unnecessarily elongates the hiring process. Streamline your interview process and be up-front about it with candidates. Limit first interviews to a phone or video call. If a candidate passes the screening, make sure all participating parties – HR manager, supervisor or other executives – are available at the same time for an in-person interview. This will optimize the decision-making process and make the candidate feel valued that the whole team was available during the first visit.

Streamline your onboarding process.
The onboarding process says a lot about a company. If new employees walk in on the first day and simple things like an email address and workspace are not set up, he or she may feel undervalued or think your company is disorganized and inefficient. Like dating, the courtship phase may be exciting, but relationship can end quickly when true colors appear. Even though a candidate accepts your offer and shows up to work, leaders must continue to reinforce that their company values their employees. Those employees always have other options, and I’ve seen them leave in their first week!

In 2020, like the previous few years, qualified candidates will hold the cards in the hiring process. But now, more than ever, they’re aware of that. Companies need to become more proactive in the hiring process and speed their decision-making timeline. If not, they risk losing their dream candidates to other companies that move more quickly.


> Nucor plans $10 million expansion for new equipment. Read Tom Bailey’s story in the Daily Memphian here.

> FedEx job fair looks to fill 500 positions. Read Meagan Nichols’ story in the Memphis Business Journal here.

> Broad Avenue businesses hope to raise Binghampton’s fortunes. Read Desiree Stennett’s story in The Commercial Appeal here. 

> Can the Downtown development boom help fight the plague of poverty? Read Dena Owens’ story in the New Tri-State Defender here.


> Need to know what to do this weekend? Check out Memphis magazine’s Five Things To Do This Weekend here.


Dr. LeoWho’s getting promoted? Who’s closing big deals? Who’s getting awards? Inside Memphis Business magazine’s Hot Sheet has the latest on milestones in Memphis.

M. Dennis Leo, PhD, (pictured) assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at UTHSC,  received a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for his project titled “Chloride Channels in Diabetic Vascular Disease.”

IMC Companies was approved for a PILOT for its new 75,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters at Schilling Farms in Collierville.

Modern Gynecology & Reproductive Health (More GYN) opened its new headquarters at 1407 Union Ave., Suite 1401.



Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.

This week’s Power Player is Randy Patton:

Branch manager and senior vice president, Investments, Raymond James & Associates. B.B.A., Economics, U of M. Specializes in financial planning, asset management, investment banking. Member, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Compliance and Legal Society, Economic Club of Memphis. Private Client Group awards for Management, 1994 and 2000, and Compliance, 1997. Active volunteer, Porter-Leath, Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue.

For the complete list of Inside Memphis Business Power Players, go here.

“Companies need to become more proactive in the hiring process and speed their decision-making timeline.”
— Kirk Johnston, executive partner, Vaco. See top story above.