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How German Companies are Getting Proactive about the Candidate Experience

The global trend of high inflation and low unemployment has been particularly acute in Germany.  Impacts from the war in Ukraine include supply chain disruptions and high energy costs. Research shows that Germany ranks second among global countries, with 86% of employers reporting a talent shortage in 2023. As talent acquisition leaders seek to win over scarce talent, they’ve been thinking more creatively about improving the candidate experience and using technology to streamline recruiting.

To better understand German hiring trends, I sat down with Dennis Böcker, Vice President of DACH at SmartRecruiters. As the regional lead for SmartRecruiters, he is responsible for 60+ employees living in Germany and he actively engages with the local talent acquisition community by participating in both intimate executive roundtables and large-scale events like Zukunft Personal.

Building relationships improves the candidate experience 

“Right now, companies understand that proactively building candidate relationships is an important piece in the whole recruiting lifecycle,” Dennis said. In Germany, hiring timelines are longer than many other nations due to employment contracts and Works Council (Betriebsrat) approvals. In more optimistic times, people were eager to change jobs, but the current economic climate has made people more risk-averse. “Potential candidates might not be ready to leave for a few years,” Dennis said. “When companies stay in touch by updating them with valuable information that makes the company more interesting, they build relationships for the future.”

Globally recognized name brands like Metro, Continental and Sixt are finding it harder to attract talent. “Big brands are getting creative,” Dennis said. “They can no longer rely on candidates to come to them.” Offline advertising with QR codes is one approach; another approach is using a CRM to communicate with candidates. “The CRM is where marketing, sales, and recruiting come together,” said Dennis. “In challenging times, people need trust, and trust is built through relationships. A relationship is built on communication.” When the CRM is linked with the ATS, every interaction is trackable, helping companies justify the ROI of recruitment marketing activities and optimize their spending over time.

Optimizing systems for the current market

Setting up the technology to accommodate the new market demands has become a new focus for companies. “Mature companies have made a clear cut between internal HR systems and external recruiting,” Dennis said. “Endless recruiting add-ons to an HR suite do not provide a strong foundation for the future.” 

Among all generations, there is a growing expectation that business technology should be as easy to use as consumer technology. “Recruiters don’t want to jump between five different solutions and copy and paste candidate data all the time,” Dennis said. After all that extra administrative work, he said, “they can still end up without any numbers for useful analytics.” 

German businesses with a global presence face the challenge of implementing consistent processes across regions, many of which require different tools. PACCOR, a global packaging manufacturer based in Germany, implemented SmartRecruiters in 17 countries and saw the benefits of using an integrated recruiting system almost immediately. Marcel Rütten, their former Global Director of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding, said in a customer story, “we can view the process from the time someone visits a job ad or our career site. We know 99% of our source of hire, the performance of every team member, and can see the bottlenecks per job family or location.”

An open mindset for the future of recruiting

I wanted to know what German companies that choose SmartRecruiters have in common. “They have an open mindset,” Dennis said. “There is an openness to building relationships, taking a creative approach, doing more than just administrative recruiting. They are open to change because they recognize the need to do something different than they are currently doing.”

German SmartRecruiters customer Axel Springer National Media & Tech GmbH is a great example of acting with an open mindset. Their Talent Attraction team worked closely with IT to integrate SmartRecruiters with SAP, Works Council requirements, SSO, and Tableau. After a huge reduction in administrative upkeep thanks to these integrations, Claudia Model, Manager, Talent Attraction, National Media & Tech at Axel Springer SE said in our customer story, “It’s fun to work on new solutions and integrations with IT, HR, and hiring managers.”

If you’ve ever met Dennis—or anyone on the SmartRecruiters team—in person, you’ll understand that it’s possible to have fun taking on technical challenges when you work with the right people. Dennis likes to keep in touch with customers after they sign on with SmartRecruiters. “Every single time, they will tell me, ‘the people made the difference,’” he said. “This is something we can be proud of.” 

It’s not only candidates that companies need to build relationships with, but also their technology partners. Dennis added, “In the end, everything is about relationships.” 

Dennis is just one of 14 hiring experts quoted in our latest eBook, Global Hiring Trends 2023: How Talent Acquisition Can Adapt and Thrive in 2023 and Beyond. Download it today to learn more about six key trends impacting hiring leaders around th world. You’ll also receive five checklists to help you make better technology decisions.

Lee Ann Prescott

Content marketing lead for SmartRecruiters