A positive candidate experience doesn’t necessarily equal finding the perfect candidate for the job—but it is a prerequisite for finding the perfect candidate.
Allow me to backtrack for a second to explain. In HR departments worldwide, the focus is far too often put solely on the conclusion (finding the right candidate) at the expense of the journey (the actual recruitment process).
So, in today’s blog, let’s focus on understanding candidate needs, boosting engagement, and creating a modern, robust process that avoids the all-too-common pitfalls of recruitment while attracting the best and most diverse candidates and strengthening the employer’s brand.
Why is a Positive Candidate Experience Essential?
When we use the term candidate experience, we mean it to encompass every aspect of the recruitment process—from the initial application to onboarding successful candidates and all the steps in between.
It’s hard to overstate just how much a positive recruitment experience does for setting a business apart. Nowadays, between the myriad social networks, networking tools, and dedicated job boards, the amount of potential opportunities at the fingertips of a job-seeker has never been higher. In tandem with this increased accessibility, US job openings have seen the largest increase in two years—so attracting highly skilled employees is currently a tall order.
All businesses try to lead with their values, showcase their culture, and present themselves as a desirable place to work—but if the first point of contact between would-be-employee and employer doesn’t reflect that, the messaging simply falls flat and doesn’t connect.
By building a positive candidate experience, a business makes the most out of every opportunity—candidates who don’t meet the mark still become brand advocates, while those who do get the job start on a positive, affirming note.
Key Candidate Experience Touch Points
To get an actionable overview of your recruitment process, you have to step into the shoes of a would-be candidate. The key is to consider the crucial touch points between the business and the candidate during the experience, starting at the beginning.
Our first touch point is the initial job posting on social media, a networking platform, or an industry website. Writing a job description that will pique the interest of talent is a topic of its own—but it certainly deserves mention here.
What you should really focus on is continuity of impression—in simple terms, if the first interaction is positive (which it should be), all subsequent interactions should also be positive.
With this first and, admittedly, general step out of the way, let’s move on to the other key touch points in the recruitment process.
The vast majority of candidates find new opportunities online and then take the time to conduct some research into the potential employer before submitting an application. Creating a strong brand as an employer cannot be overlooked, as it provides candidates with their first glimpse of the organization and makes it clear that it is a great place to work.
Building up this brand can take time, but a simple method is to ask current employees to leave reviews on relevant websites or share the company culture on LinkedIn and other social media channels. Encourage staff to post pictures, videos, and event updates to show what it’s like to work for the company. This is one of the best ways to build your employer brand.
The first port of call for many applicants is to browse the employer’s website, with careers-related pages and company ‘about’ pages the usual entry points.
To be effective, the careers section on an organization’s website should have a welcoming but professional feel, quickly giving applicants the information they need to make an informed decision.
In addition, these pages should also provide a short insight into the company culture and working environment—just enough to establish an identity and not come across as salesy.
Many candidates do not receive a response from a company after sending an application, which is a missed opportunity. Even if a company does not want to progress an application, efforts can still be made to foster a positive brand image in one of your target demographics for employment.
Even a simple automated email or a response from a chatbot—which is becoming a common method of delivering customer service—is better than giving no response at all. These generic, automated responses should be followed up with a genuine, human response—even something like a text message or a quick phone call goes a long way in distinguishing your business from the hundreds that don’t take those steps.
A Personalized Candidate Experience
The application process can be optimized by creating various job posts and landing pages that are personalized based on factors such as the candidate’s location, the required experience needed for the role, or perhaps if the position is fully remote or in-person.
The open position may be highly technical, and the recruitment process could involve a lengthy screening process with numerous testing phases. Alternatively, the role may require a specific type of personality; therefore, the messaging should be tailored accordingly. Each job post should be created with an exact candidate in mind.
Building a Winning Application Process
If an organization does not have an optimized and streamlined application process, then it runs the risk of missing out on skilled and experienced candidates. This process needs to avoid being overly long and tedious, offer clear confirmation that information has been submitted, and provide details on what will happen next.
Let’s consider a few simple ways an organization can create a winning application process.
- A mobile-friendly application that allows candidates to apply for a position easily using their smartphone. Many people are reluctant to sit in front of their computer and fill out a boring application form and favor the speed and convenience of an app.
- Modern solutions like QR registration codes can also direct candidates to where they need to go. They can simply scan the QR code in the job post and open the application form on their phone, meaning they do not have to click through numerous links and scroll web pages.
- Ensure job descriptions are engaging and contain all the necessary information. Each job description should be checked for quality, making sure they effectively describe the company and list all the skills, qualities, and experience the desired candidate should possess.
- Apply automation tools to reduce the overall workload while still retaining a human touch. Chatbots or automatically generated messaging is a good first step, but it should always be supplemented by a follow-up message from a real person.
- Try to keep the application process as short as possible. Many employer websites now feature a quick apply option that allows candidates to import details from their LinkedIn profile and upload their cover letters and CVs.
In this digital age, candidates expect a positive experience when applying for jobs online. This includes a quick and simple application process and responsive recruiters that make them feel valued.
Creating personalized job postings and developing a mobile-friendly app are two ways employers can improve the experience. However, efforts should also be made to establish a strong employer brand, utilizing social media and online review sites to convey the culture and values of the organization.