At AstraZeneca we believe in bringing the best candidates at the right time, to the right place, at the right cost and in the right way.

Organisations have struggled over the past few years with a shrinking talent pool, which was further intensified during the pandemic. Unfortunately, not many companies have invested much time to focus on the candidate experience and how this will contribute to attracting or retaining the right talent in the future.

During 2022, we identified 8 key talent acquisition learnings and practices that we believe can deliver the most impact and create differentiation when it comes to our internal and external candidates’ experiences.

1. Eye for Talent

Facing a talent shortage inspired us to start focusing more on internal mobility, reskilling, and upskilling our internal employees to grow and progress them against internal opportunities, building a pipeline of future leaders and filling in niche roles and business critical roles from within the organization.

We believe that feedback is the breakfast of the champions and therefore introduced the feedforward feedback mechanism following every interview with our internal candidates. This includes sharing candidates’ assessment reports and going through a debrief session or feedforward session to reflect on the assessment/interview outcome, support the candidate’s self-discovery and future development planning goals.

2. Identify Impact Players and Difference Makers While Hiring

HR professionals and hiring managers need to look for people who are comfortable with ambiguity, agile and have a strong sense of agency. That mindset is hard to teach, so we need to prioritize it when hiring. Other, more coachable skills can be taught later. When interviewing, look for someone who has taken charge of their own life. Ask candidates to describe an experience that was messy and ambiguous and see how they respond, how they were able to act and achieve results regardless of the unclear and challenging circumstances. Recruiters need to get out of the standard questions approval and allow candidates to articulate their story and be themselves, fly with their achievements as if they are standing on a stage and singing their song. Leadership isn’t just about bringing out the best in others; leaders need to find ways to embrace people coming into the workforce who really want to make a difference. Find your impact players and step out of the traditional way of recruiting.

As mentioned by Lis Wiseman in her Impact Players book and latest article, impact players know how to see situations from a leader’s perspective and understand what they need, or know, how to ask. They are the people who say: “How can I make your job easier? Is there anything I can take off your plate?”

3. Build a Pipeline of Talent - Consistent Talent Messaging

Vocalizing our talent story that summarizes key points which will attract talent to join AstraZeneca, provide consistent and compelling messages to attract the right talent who will continue to be our advocates every single day remain as one of our key practices in 2022.

We’re looking for people who want to change the world and make an impact. Those willing to seize the opportunity, take the initiative and jump at challenges to shake things up for a greater purpose. Passionate, high-performing team players with a real curiosity and hunger to learn, grow, and take risks within our supportive network.

As we work on real projects with high levels of responsibility, embracing challenge and change, we truly value our talent unique knowledge and ideas and trust that they will step up, jump in, and help us deliver for patients, and our business.

As part of a highly diverse and international enterprise, we allow talents to collaborate with leaders and team members across a wide range of disciplines – allowing them to rotate through functions to pursue their passion or discover their career purpose. This will enable them to build strong bonds and making connections that will last a lifetime. We follow the science and support each other to go further together. Because ultimately, it’s about making a positive difference.

4. Candidate Experience is Everything.

What is candidate experience? It is the most important factor for attracting talent. By definition candidate experience is “how candidates feel about the organization once they experience our hiring process.” And these feelings, whether good or bad, influence candidates in their decision to apply or accept our job offer. This plays an important role with being an advocate for us among their community.

Streamlining the hiring process, transparency and quality are key words we always emphasize when we think of candidate experience. More streamlined technology platforms are replacing the hodgepodge of tools to create a one-stop-shop that moves across the hiring continuum. Now, recruiters are focusing more on strategic interactions with candidates, and less on the tactical aspects of the process.

"HR professionals and hiring managers need to look for people who are comfortable with ambiguity, agile and have a strong sense of agency"

Giving candidates information about what to expect at in-person interviews, providing clarity on the role, the job description, and giving them your full attention at interviews delivers the highest impact. Most importantly closing the loop with the candidates and being open with giving and receiving feedback is crucial to their experience.

5. Talent Search Evolution

We believe now that most of the employers are going outside of their industry, within the retired workforce, and to other less conventional places to find the people and skills they need. We are being more agile with our talent search and attraction strategies.

An inclusive and engaging culture is better for everyone. Organizations are looking inward at their culture and employer value proposition (EVP) to understand how they align or not with what candidates want in the companies they work for.

6. New Approaches to Onboarding - More Ambiguity. More Structure.

In a remote world, though, we must structure the entire onboarding process so that we can stay close to new hires - even if they are physically far away. This also means engaging new hires before they even start and encouraging existing employees to reach out to their future colleagues to make them feel a part of the team.

7. Great Place to Work

A highly collaborative and supportive culture with diverse talent and curious minds – where everyone can feel valued and empowered to be their best. Prioritizing our employee’s safety and wellbeing, offering hybrid working conditions, allowing employees to work both from home and the office with focus on driving a performance driven culture. Positioning our company as a Great Place to Work as a key differentiator to attract the right talent will continue to remain one of our key priorities during 2022.

8. Pace of Business Travel Has Slowed Dramatically

The pace of business travel has slowed down dramatically—and will continue to stay that way; when it comes to recruiting, we are keeping in-person interviews to the final round of the hiring process, and mostly for senior roles. We connect virtually with all our candidates; we build our connections faster and smoother. It’s important to note that this doesn’t stop us from creating our best candidate experience and staying ahead of the competition.