It’s a candidate’s market. That means you need to build a positive employer brand to build candidate interest in your company. In recruitment, we tend to label the market as candidate or client driven. I have worked in both market types over the years. Each has its own challenges. In tough economic times, when jobs are scarce, employers tend to call the shots.
But when business is booming, candidates have choices to make and plenty of them. In this market, the way a candidate experiences your recruitment process, is pivotal. You need to create an exceptional candidate experience to increase your chances of securing top performers who will help your company thrive.
In this article, I explore the concept of a candidate experience, why it is pivotal to company success and offer some hints and tips to create, measure and improve your candidate experience. When it comes to recruiting top talent, your company’s candidate experience needs to be exceptional.
What is a candidate experience?
The candidate experience includes every point of contact a job seeker has with your company throughout the recruitment and talent acquisition process.
From reading your job advertisement to receiving an offer (or rejection), every interaction that a candidate has with your company is part of their candidate experience. And a positive candidate experience improves your employer brand.
Some sobering candidate experience statistics
Whilst many people believe that you can get statistics to support any point of view, the following set of statistics are hopefully compelling enough for you to realise that the candidate experience you create is incredibly important.
These statistics were captured in 2017, by Talentadore and were sourced from reputable sources (as referenced below):
- Nearly 4 in 5 candidates (78%) say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people (LinkedIn)
- 80–90% of talent say a positive or negative candidate experience can change their minds about a role or company (Recruiting Brief)
- Nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and 72% have shared their experience on online employer review sites such as Glassdoor.com (LinkedIn)
- 60% of job seekers report they have quit an application due to its length or complexity (Recruiting Brief)
- 80% of job seekers say they would not reapply to a company that didn’t notify them of their application status (Lever)
- 65% of job seekers say they never or rarely receive notice of their application status (Lever)
- 51% of those who receive notification say that it takes at least one month or more (CareerArc)
- 78% of job seekers report never having been asked for feedback on their candidate experience (Lever)
- Talent is four times more likely to consider your company in the future if you offer constructive feedback (Lever)
- Only 46% of employers report making regular improvements to the recruitment processes (at least every six months) that affect the candidate experience (CareerArc)
Why the candidate experience matters – building your employer brand depends on it
If the statistics above are not compelling enough for you (or stats are not really your thing), here’s a quick summary of why your candidate experience needs to be exceptional:
Reason 1. Because candidates make decisions about whether to apply, interview or work with your company, based on their experience and interaction with your company
Reason 2. Because it is not just the interview process and your office environment that impacts candidates – they make decisions from the moment they come into contact with your brand
Reason 3. Because it has been proven that candidates who are weary of companies they don’t recognise can, and do, accept job offers if that company’s recruitment experience has been positive (shout out to the start ups out there!)
Reason 4. Because candidates talk with other candidates – and you want that conversation to be positive! They may well refer someone to your company
Reason 5. Because digital disruption now allows candidates to leave feedback on their experience with your company on sites such as Glassdoor.com
Reason 6. Because candidates may also be consumers of your products or services. A poor candidate experience could lead to a lost customer
What impacts the candidate experience?
Many people believe that it is just the interview process that impacts a candidate’s decision about accepting a role with a company. In fact, there are many factors that play into their decision making including:
- The quality of your job advertisement, job description and careers page
- The ease with which they can apply for roles or send their resume for future opportunities
- Every interaction they have with people from your company
- The documentation and information you send to them
- Your transparency about your recruitment approach (eg listing your recruitment life cycle somewhere on your website)
- The information you convey about the role, the values of the company and how the company serves its clients
- The consistency of feedback (or lack thereof) that you provide across the entire recruitment process
- The time it takes you to contact them at each stage of the process and the quality of the information you provide in those communications
- The interviews themselves – how they are greeted in reception through to the demeanor and professionalism of those who interview them and the location of those interviews
How to create an exceptional candidate experience and build your employer brand in the process
Forming a candidate experience strategy is paramount if you are serious about creating a (consistently) exceptional candidate experience and a strong employer brand.
Here are a few elements you might want to consider when forming your strategy:
Timeliness of communication
Agree on your company’s acceptable time parameters for getting back to candidates with feedback.
Market your company, people and values
Provide candidates with professional and articulate information about your company, the talented people who work within it and how values shape the way your company works. At this point you are indeed playing a marketing role and trying to encourage candidates to opt in…not opt out.
Train your interviewers well
Active listening is essential when interviewing candidates. Throughout the selection process candidates communicate key information about what drives and inspires them. You are in a better position to influence candidate decisions when you know what their key motivators, career aspirations and values are.
Listen for feedback on social platforms
Review Glassdoor.com and other social media sites regularly. Monitor what candidates are saying about their recruitment experience with your company. Address any negative reviews with changes in your process to create an improved candidate experience.
Measure your results
Poll those who accept offers with your company. Ask them a few key questions about their experience moving through the recruitment process and seek feedback on any improvements they think would create a better candidate experience.
Consider emailing candidates who apply for a role with your company, incorporating a quick, easy-to-use online survey tool to gain feedback on their experience. You can then improve the candidate experience incrementally in line with any feedback given.
Take a candidate focused approach to your application process
Review your current application process from the point of view of a candidate. Whilst you may have designed your current process to reduce administration time for your company, following a laborious process may be perceived as a pain in the neck for candidates.
Whilst you may have automated some parts of your recruitment process (ie setting up interview times), make sure the points at which you do talk with candidates creates a positive, professional yet personalised candidate experience.
Benchmark and innovate
Benchmark your current process against other companies that are recognised for their candidate experience – what does that company do that you do not?
Think outside the box. Don’t review your recruitment process once a year. Make iterative changes in line with any useful feedback you receive from candidates. If you are a small company, take advantage of your agility to try new things to improve the candidate experience.
Consider getting a cross functional team together once every month or two and brainstorm new ways of creating an exceptional candidate experience. The more diverse the group the better.
How is digital disruption changing the candidate experience
It would be remiss of me not to talk about the impact of technology on the candidate experience. Artificial intelligence does have a role to play in the experience you create. Whilst some stages of the recruitment process are best handled by humans, other aspects can be handled more efficiently with the help of chatbots.
Using chatbots is unlikely to be seen as too “hands off” for candidates if this technology can assist them to more efficiently schedule an interview (rather than playing telephone tag with a human) or can answer some basic application queries.
Automated emails acknowledging candidate applications and providing other application process information, are useful too. With no immediate communication, candidates often feel as though their application has been lost in a digital black hole somewhere! Automated responses go some way to addressing this issue and have been in place for some time now with companies that use Applicant Tracking Systems or similar.
Treat your recruitment and talent acquisition function as an extension of your marketing function
Whilst the HR function is typically seen as a company overhead, the candidate experience within your recruitment function, in my view, should be seen as an extension of your company’s marketing function.
Deloitte, concisely identifies placing importance on “aligning the candidate experience and branding strategy to the business strategy, which allows for a focused approach instead of an overwhelmed or reactive series of actions. The [candidate experience] strategy should also be complementary to the overall corporate brand.”
Using marketing and communications resources that your company already has, such as your website, any in-house creative resources, email marketing tools and social media channels, are very useful in aligning your candidate experience with your overarching corporate brand.
Seek to delight candidates
Be creative in your pursuit of delighting candidates, regardless of whether they are employed by your company or not. Candidate word of mouth about their experience with your company is as important as word of mouth about your company’s products and services. Good news travels fast, bad news travels even faster.
Keen to improve your candidate experience in order to improve your employer brand? I can help. Get in touch. I would love to send you a Practical Guide to Improving Your Candidate Experience with step by step instructions on how to build or improve your current approach.