When you hear many speakers and practitioners speak about the candidate experience it is typically about how to improve the apply and recruiting process. And this is rightfully so as the apply process can be the cause for most candidates angst with a recruitment marketing organization.
And while this is the right place to start when looking to improve the overall candidate experience, I think that we should also look a little bit broader into what falls under the candidate experience umbrella.
When I look at the candidate experience, I like to think of the two different areas of focus. First and foremost, is the apply process. This covers all the candidate interactions you have once a candidate enters your application. The second is engagement. This covers before a candidate decides to apply and after a candidate leaves your recruiting process. Let’s take a look at both areas.
Communication is Integral
Before I delve into the post, I wanted to first stress the importance of communication in every area of the candidate experience. Having a great candidate experience is about communicating with candidates at the right time with the right information. Organizations that do it well are able to figure out when these communications need to happen and putting a system in place to ensure these candidates are engaged with at these crucial times through the technology they use and people they employ.
Communication is the key to a good experience, it’s just the types of communications and the goals of the communication that will ultimately change based on the area of the candidate experience you are focusing on.
Process Oriented Candidate Experience
When I look at many of the insights we receive on the candidate experience, many of them are in this bucket. These initiatives focus on the candidate once they start to apply for a position at your company and cover the full apply and interview process.
There are a number of places that organization’s focus on in this regard. Here are some of the most talked about:
The application itself: This is where a large portion of the candidate drop-off happens so it’s important to find the happy medium between capturing enough information on the candidate and making it relatively easy to apply. The newest development for this is mobile apply (many times through social sign-in) as more candidates than ever are accessing jobs through their mobile phones. From a candidate experience perspective, it’s crucial to start thinking about this process for both web and mobile audiences.
Submission Confirmation: It’s surprising that this is not at 100% usage yet but this is a common feature in many of the larger ATS solutions. This enables you to send a customized note that let’s you confirm receipt of a candidate’s application and set their expectations for what the recruiting process will look like. The most progressive organizations are using these messages not only as confirmations but as a way to better engage with candidates by pointing them to content on their Career Sites or inviting them to engage on their social recruiting profiles.
Closing the Loop: This refers to organizations looking to provide confirmations through the entire interview process. This is beyond an automated response and is usually a recruiter picking up the phone to give a candidate the good (or bad) news. This is systematic and is something that needs to be ingrained into the recruiter’s process to be successful.
General Feedback: Many organizations are also starting to gather feedback from candidates at different steps in their recruiting process so they can improve it. With simple survey and campaigning tools, they are able to capture rich data from candidates on the good and bad of their process.
All these initiatives aim to provide transparency to candidates in the apply and interview process. This transparency in turn is meant to improve the experience a candidate has applying to an organization and just as important limit the negative impact of them having a bad experience. The hope and reality in many cases is that the positive experience will be shared with offers and have an impact on the perception of applying at that company and a positive impact on the overall brand from candidates (especially if they are current or future customers.)
Engagement Oriented Candidate Experience
Depending on your organization, you may not have even thought about this part yet. The second part of candidate experience is how you interact with candidates before and after they are out of your apply process. Mainly it’s focusing on the information and content you provide them to better find the right opportunity at your organization and most importantly sell them on your company as an employer of choice.
Many would call this employer branding, however, I like to include it in the candidate experience. A candidate becomes a candidate to me once they interact with your organization. That can be applying, visiting your Career Site, following you on Twitter or signing up for your Talent Network. In any case, it’s important to focus just as much energy educating and getting these candidates to the apply stage as it is ensuring they avoid the “Black Hole” of the ATS.
When I hear about companies focusing on this side of the candidate experience, it’s in a number of areas:
Career Site: With this, it’s a number of things (I’ve detailed some potential areas in this blog.) At the very basic, it’s making sure you have easily found information on your company and how to apply for a job. More advanced it’s presenting an inside look at what it’s like to work at your organization with videos, targeted content and employee testimonials to provide insight for candidates. Lastly, much like the apply process, mobile sites are becoming integral to having success and need to be prominent in your mobile recruiting strategy.
Campaigning: Talent Networks, pipelines and communities are becoming extremely popular in recruiting circles. And for good reason. They are great way to engage with potential candidates. The key though is ensuring that you set up a process to deliver targeted and significant messaging to the different candidate populations that you recruit. From targeted job emails to content on what it’s like to work at your company to helpful career articles and links, you need to provide candidates to a myriad of content that provides value to them. Very rarely do you get a second chance to prove so.
Social Presence: Social channels in recruiting can be used in a number of different ways. In general, it can be used to easily remained engaged and share timely information with candidates. If used this way, it can be a good way to share recruiting information, company highlights, helpful job seeking links, your personality as well as your jobs. But please no Twitter job feeds!…
On this side of the candidate experience you are focusing on providing candidates with the information needed to make an educated decision on whether to apply to work for your organization. In turn, you also want to use these tools to keep top of mind with candidates as they get to the point when they decide it’s time for a change.
Improving the Candidate Experience
To improve the candidate experience, you need to look at how your organization communicates with candidates at every step in the process. Once you determine the steps, it’s time to figure out the needed degree of communication and the best vehicle to provide it. Positive candidate experience is driven by the level of education and communication you provide candidates from when they first interact with your recruiting organization to when they leave your recruiting process (as a hire or a rejected candidate) and you need to focus both on process and engagement to be successful.