Candidate Experience: How Small Tweaks Can Make a Huge Impact
by Melinda Canino, MS, CIR with Strategic HR
If you work in human resources, you’ve surely heard people talking about the importance of the “candidate experience.” But what does that really mean, why is it important, and how can you address it? These are critical questions to answer if you want to position your company for success. If you haven’t asked them of yourself or your organization, there’s no better time than the present!
What is Candidate Experience?
Candidate experience has been defined in many ways, but essentially it can be viewed as the collective whole of a job seeker’s interactions with and perception of a company during the recruitment and hiring process. It encompasses every touch point the job seeker has with your company from learning about your company background, products, culture, and the job to applying for the job and going through your selection process.
Why Does It Matter?
With record low unemployment rates across the country, coupled with new job creation in many industries, the competition for talent is at an all-time high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening reached a historic low of 1.1% in 2017. If you look at recruitment today through the basic principles of supply and demand, it is without a doubt a job seeker’s market. With a plethora of employment options, job seekers are being far more selective about their job and company choices.
Candidates are acting more like consumers – they research a potential employer similar to how they research products and services before buying. With more informed candidates, it’s all the more important for your company to have a well-developed brand and culture and to actively engage consumers and potential employees to ensure they have a positive experience with your company.
According to CareerArc’s candidate experience survey:
- Nearly 60% of candidates surveyed said they have had a poor candidate experience.
- 72% percent of those respondents said they shared their negative experience online or with someone directly.
Your brand integrity is key for both customers and job seekers. When either of these groups have a negative experience with your company and share it publicly, it can negatively impact your ability to recruit top talent and lead to loss of current/future customers.
Company Culture – What Candidates Want to Know.
In order for candidates to be excited to work for your company, they need to know who you are. You can share about your brand and culture through the careers section of your website and social media platforms (i.e., LinkedIn, glassdoor, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Candidates Look For:
- Candidates want to see a realistic picture of what it’s like to work at your company. They want to know about your company culture and how it is lived every day.
- How are employees treated and what’s the potential for growth? This is your chance to give candidates a compelling reason of why they would want to work at your company and be part of your team.
- Connection and commitment to community. What role does your company play in the local or broader community and why?
If you’re concerned that your company culture is contributing to fewer applications, applicant drop off rates, higher turnover, and/or an overall negative candidate/employee experience, this is a critical foundational piece on which to focus your care and attention.
Using Videos to Promote Company Culture:
An effective way to share about your company culture is through videos, and the good news is that doesn’t mean expensive over-produced company videos. This presents a great opportunity to get your employees involved in telling their stories about what it’s like to work at your company. It’s also a way for recruiters and hiring managers to make a more personal connection with potential candidates early in the application/selection process.
According to a recent study by Lighthouse Research and Advisory:
- 55% of active job seekers said employee-generated video would be more credible/trustworthy than company-produced video.
- Candidates said that seeing the hiring manager on video would make them 46% more likely to consider the job and 30% more likely to respond to a recruiter or apply.
Communication is the Cornerstone of Candidate Experience.
We live in a world that expects immediate feedback, and the job search process is no different. Employers need to provide as much information as they can at every stage so that candidates feel that they matter. Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes. Wouldn’t you prefer to know what to expect in the selection process if you were about to make a significant career/life change? You wouldn’t be alone – 78% of candidates report that their candidate experience is an indicator of how the potential employer values its people.
Also, choose your communication tools wisely. If you haven’t incorporated texting into your recruitment and selection process, you’re missing a huge opportunity to stay easily engaged with your candidates. If you want to incorporate texting in a broader and more consistent way, you may want to consider exploring a resource such as TextRecruit, which is a candidate management platform leveraging text, chat, and artificial intelligence in your hiring process.
If you’re not sure if your communication methods are currently working to your advantage, consider enlisting help from Hello Hire, a firm specializing in candidate experience solutions. They can conduct a candidate experience audit to help you identify your strengths and create an action plan to address any gaps.
Bottom line, be responsive and keep candidates informed in a timely manner if you want to continue to keep them engaged in your process. Remember, there are plenty of other employers out there who are also trying to get their attention. You risk losing candidates to a competitor if you don’t keep the lines of communication open.
How to Evaluate Your Candidate Experience.
According to Glassdoor, an average of 74% of candidates drop off during the application process. Have you looked at your current application and selection processes through the lens of providing an exceptional candidate experience? If not, below are some questions to ask yourself:
Job Application Phase:
- Company Careers Website: Is it easy to navigate? Does it tell the story about what it’s like to work for your company? Can a candidate submit their resume even if there isn’t a current open job in their field? Does it explain your recruitment/selection process so that candidates know what to expect?
- Job Advertisement: Is it a quick/easy read? Is it candidate-focused answering “what’s in it for me?”
- Application: Is it quick and easy to apply? Is it mobile friendly? Have you tested it out yourself for ease of use?
- Candidate Communication: Do candidates know where they stand in the selection process? Is there someone they can reach out to for answers? Do they get responses to their questions? How long does it take for them to receive responses? Do they get informed when they are no longer being considered for a position?
- On-site Interviews: Are candidates prepared for what to expect in their on-site interview? (i.e., Who will they meet with? Where? For how long? What’s the typical attire at your location?) Do they get a chance to meet some of the people with whom they would work?
- Staff Interview Preparation: Is training/preparation provided to interviewers and anyone with whom the candidate might come into contact to ensure the optimal on-site experience?
- Candidate Communication: Do candidates know what to expect after the interview? Do candidates know where they stand in the selection process? Do they receive feedback? If the selection process takes longer than expected, is it communicated to all candidates?
- Assessments: Are pre-employment assessments used appropriately (regarding time to complete and point at which they’re required in the process)?
- Communicating the Hire: How quickly is the hire decision made and communicated to the selected candidate? Who is responsible for making verbal and written offers? Do you call runner-up candidates with personalized closure? Do you notify all candidates when the position is filled?
As you can see from the evaluation questions above, with some simple tweaks to your processes, you can make a huge impact on the quality of your candidate experience. In this tight labor market, now is the time to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Melinda Canino, MS, CIR is an HR Consultant at Strategic HR If you have any questions or would like to share your comments, contact Melinda@strategicHRinc.com.