Does Empathy Belong in the Recruitment Process?

October 4, 2022

Talent acquisition might be people-centric by nature, but it’s easy to forget that people are your most valuable asset—especially when the pressure to boost employee efficiency and slash hiring costs dominates company priorities. 

Truth is, a little empathy goes a long way in the candidate experience. In a business world that never stops moving, empathy tends to fall by the wayside as a “nice-to-have” piece of the recruitment puzzle. But even if you’re celebrating birthdays and hosting happy hours left and right, you’re going to have a hard time driving new candidates without empathy.

According to the 2018 State of Workplace Empathy study, 90 percent of employees are more likely to stay with an organization that empathizes with their needs. There’s a silent majority of blue-collar workers who are ready to take action—and even leave their jobs—to find more empathetic employers.

The revolution is here—is your workplace ready? Here’s how to transform your recruitment marketing strategy with the power of empathy.



What Does Workplace Empathy Look Like?

Now that you know how important empathy is, what does it actually look like? Let’s start with the definition: Empathy is the ability to understand and experience the feelings of other people. From construction to logistics, empathy is a powerful tool that draws people together and builds deeper connections.

Empathy should be the cornerstone of how you engage your employees, satisfy your clients, and recruit new candidates. You need to provide a workplace that respects employees, helps them achieve their goals, and acknowledges their lives outside of work. The long-term payoff of empathy isn’t just happy employees—it’s a stronger workforce and healthier business.

Of course, there’s a flip side. When management doesn’t value empathy, it’s not just individual employees that suffer. The consequences can seep into every fiber of your organization. Over time, a non-empathetic culture can lead to dissatisfied employees, lost productivity, and high churn. And it’s much more common than you might think: 92 percent of employees believe empathy remains undervalued in the workplace.



How to Create an Empathy-Based Recruitment Process

Empathy impacts every level of your organization, from the C-suite to production line. The clock is ticking—it’s time to stop using empathy as a recruitment buzzword and start tapping into the power of empathy to fuel your strategy. Here’s how to take the next step.


1. Recognize Candidate Pain Points

After weeks of searching, you’ve finally found the perfect candidate…but you have five other competitors that could potentially pay out your offer. What’s your next move?

To bring empathy into the recruitment process, try taking a solution-based sales approach to land your top pick. You need to slow down, approach the candidate, and ask the million-dollar question: What problem are you trying to solve?

When you identify candidate pain points, you can position your opportunity as the best solution to their underlying problem. In this situation, the candidate has complete control. They might not be exchanging money for a product, but they’re buying into your company culture. As a recruiter, it’s your job to pitch to them.

To recruit your ideal candidate, you need to recognize the why behind their job search. You need to put yourself in their shoes so you can understand their situation and provide solutions.

To dive deeper into their pain points, you might ask interview questions like:

  • Why are you looking to leave your current employer?
  • What do you want to achieve with a job transition?
  • What do you find valuable in an employer?

The more information you have, the more successful you’ll be. Then, you can show candidates exactly how your job opportunity can resolve their problems. Help them visualize life at your company by highlighting their values and goals. And if you don’t have what they’re looking for, be honest. It’s not always going to work out, and that’s OK.


2. Make the Hiring Process Clear

Another simple way to improve your candidate experience? Be honest. Whether you’re sending a job offer or politely declining, you need a transparent hiring process to build your employer brand applicant by applicant.

If you want to hire top talent, honest communication is a must-have. Today, many organizations are creating a transparent hiring process by providing key information on their careers page. You should let candidates know what to expect by outlining the application process, screening, interviewing, and onboarding.

Sure, it’s important to emphasize the best parts of the position, but you should also be honest about the day-to-day tasks.

Candidates want the truth about morale, productivity, and company culture—and they want to hear it from current employees.

So, where do you start? If your careers website doesn’t have a blog yet, it’s time to create one. Then, you should start filling your blog with employee interviews, career stories, and other informative content to show potential candidates what to expect during the hiring process and beyond.

Make sure to switch it up with different types of content, like blog Q&As, videos, and pictures. If you need some inspiration, you can even ask candidates for questions on social media to guide your blog content. Try asking candidates what they want to learn more about using polls on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. You can feature different types of content on your careers blog, including:

At the end of the day, open and honest communication is an essential component of hiring. When you make potential candidates feel comfortable throughout the process, you’ll boost your employer brand—all while building a more engaged workforce. Sounds like a win-win, right?


3. Implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

As more employees realize what social values impact them, they’re looking for employers with similar values and perspectives. To highlight your empathy during recruitment and beyond, you need an empathetic employer brand—and that starts with an authentic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy.

According to an in-depth social listening analysis by McKinsey, diversity doesn’t just boost profitability. It also helps companies attract, hire, and retain qualified talent. Diversity matters, and you can’t afford to stay silent about key issues in today’s competitive recruitment landscape.

To make the most of DEI, you’ll need to go beyond traditional concepts—like age, parenthood, or impairment—so you can broaden the concept of what a “successful candidate” looks like. It’s also essential to rethink the recruitment process by incorporating diverse hiring teams, inclusive job descriptions, and intentional statements about your company’s values.

But it’s not just enough to talk the talk. You also need to walk the walk to show potential candidates how you’re taking action in the workplace.


Let’s take Invitae as an example. In 2020, Invitae strengthened its DEI efforts by creating employee resource groups to foster allyship and community, with groups ranging from “Women in Tech” to “Veterans in Genetics.” From an employee perspective, employee programs and other DEI resources can help make work/life balance easier, reduce stress, and improve company culture.



Rethink Your Recruitment Strategy

We’ve all heard the saying before: “People will forget what you said or did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” Employee priorities are shifting, and you need to recruit with empathy to win the war for talent.

Ready to upgrade your recruitment strategy? We’re here to help you succeed with proven recruiting tools for your business. Download our self-audit checklist and schedule a discovery call to transform your recruitment process with empathy.

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