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We all know that an amazing candidate experience can make all the difference when you’re competing for talent, but designing a compelling experience (let alone executing it) isn’t an easy task. In our efforts to continually improve and push the envelope in recruitment marketing, SmashFly took a hard look at the candidate journey.

We know if we are trying to change the experience, we must live from the candidate’s point of view and their journey with our brand – so we put the focus on the journey itself. It’s pretty much impossible to impact the candidate experience if you have no idea what the candidate does, thinks, and feels throughout their journey. As recruitment marketers, our target audience greatly affects our business. What kind of talent are we attracting? How are we engaging them? How are we influencing their decision to continue on their journey with us?

SmashFly explored all of these questions in our latest candidate journey exercise. What did we learn? Three solid truths about the candidate journey that can be enhanced by great recruitment marketing.


The candidate journey … isn’t linear

Despite a desire to bring order to chaos, the candidate journey is all over the place. People fall in and out of their job hunt, and their interest in your company fluctuates all the time. They change their minds; they gather information, and they make decisions. It’s not neat and tidy. That messiness is what makes it is so challenging to build and execute a great candidate experience — you never know when a candidate lead will enter your pipeline or what data they have, much less how they make decisions! Despite these challenges, the opportunities abound to impact candidates’ research process by creating valuable, searchable content about your employer brand and culture. And when they do opt in, the opportunity is to keep them interested by engaging them with information and stories that will help them make good career decisions as they progress through their journey.


The candidate journey … isn’t all that positive

Over the years, our industry has gotten a reputation for being a black hole. Candidates apply for a position and too often get nothing at all to indicate they were seen by an opaque system. This reputation is so strong that candidates never expect to hear from a company unless they are selected. They have limited confidence that their application is even being reviewed!

The candidate experience is not a pleasant one until the candidate gets a call or email from a company about an interview. Candidates know that hundreds of people apply for a job, of which only one will get selected and hired. So, for all the people that apply, only a handful that interview have any experience at all with the organization. And what about after the interview process? What about all the silver medalists? What about all the candidates who might be good fits for other positions?

Think about it: Only a few people who interact with your employer brand have a happy experience, and if they are it is because they feel seen. We realized that this is where the biggest opportunities are. When you provide candidates with transparent information about your company and your hiring process, you are increasing the likelihood that they will have a more positive experience. Using your talent network to engage with all candidates and to make them feel noticed provides the biggest impact on their experience. Sharing status, providing enough feedback about the company, the role, and the culture creates a stronger experience for those people who are not selected for an interview. This is where the rubber meets the road in the candidate journey. Your first opportunity to affect their journey rests in the highest part of the talent acquisition funnel.


The candidate journey … doesn’t end

The candidate journey does not end at the hire stage. It is important to market continually to your internal talent as well. Keep them engaged with your growth and show them the difference they are making at your company. In addition to creating internal brand advocates in new hires, you still need to make the people who were not selected to join your company feel important. The critical piece here —and the real opportunity— is to develop targeted nurturing strategies for people who are not selected, but would make a great addition to your team at another time. It’s why we advocate at SmashFly and with our customers that the best candidates for your next open req are already in your database. You’ve already paid to attract that talent, you must find ways to keep them engaged in their journey with YOUR company.


Understanding the candidate experience through the lens of the candidate journey is a critical component to your recruitment marketing efforts. If mapping out your candidate journey is something you think could benefit your talent acquisition strategy, we should talk.

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