What exactly is the candidate experience?
Did you know that, according to HR Review a recent survey showed that 83% of employees in the UK say that they are not engaged at work? Disengaged employees are not without skills and talents. Quite the contrary, a disengaged employee can have a tremendous amount of talent that simply isn’t being utilised by the organisation.
While there are many reasons that employees become disengaged, one thing is certain – employee engagement starts during the recruitment process. Companies have the ability to create an experience that helps candidates connect with the organisation even before they apply for a job.
This “experience” that companies are trying to create has been labelled the “candidate experience”. It’s thought of as the interactions that take place during the hiring process. It’s the candidates experience as they apply, interview and on-board with the company.
Investing in the candidate experience will yield results both short-term with application flow as well as long-term in the organisations bottom line.
So, how do we deliver a first class candidate experience? I have broken this down into 7 steps.
1) Creating a positive company culture and brand
People want to work for companies that they’re proud of. They want to work for organisations that have purpose. There are clear benefits for businesses that create a positive company brand image. The first is attracting the best talent. The second is greater profits. The reason is simple. People like to win. They want to work at companies they believe are winning. Employees want to tell their friends and family where they work and hear “oohs” and “aaahs”. Companies that build a positive culture and brand get the best candidates.
2) Candidate Engagement
Jobseekers want to research organisations on-line before they apply. This concept links back to creating a positive company brand. Candidates want to see that the company is a good place to work before applying. Today’s talent is selective. Besides the traditional listing of job openings and application instructions, some other things to include on the company career site is:
- The organisations mission, vision and corporate values
- Company purpose & connection to the community
- Awards & recognition received by the company
- Photos & videos of the work environment & employees
- Benefits, professional development & future opportunities
And job postings should be realistic. Candidates don’t want surprises about the companies to which they are applying for nor do they want surprises about the job for which they’re applying. Job postings should be an accurate and realistic description of the position.
3) Building Engagement
Once a candidate has been engaged, whether through your proactive sourcing efforts or because they have contacted you to express an interest, it is now your responsibility to understand that candidate’s individual needs and wants. You should then use subsequent interactions to focus on providing more detailed information around the business area, realistic job previews around the role, benefits and rewards or any other need your candidates might have.
4) Expectation Management
It’s vital to set clear expectations from the start and to keep some form of communication going through the process. Acknowledgement of emails and messages, advising on the length of the application process and information on next steps in the process are all key elements to keeping the candidate informed. A failure to communicate can be interpreted as a lack of interest in their application. Start out as you mean to go and engage with all of the applicants in the pipeline.
5) Ensuring the assessment is a 2-way process
The assessment stage in any recruitment process has the potential to be a difficult one emotionally for applicants. Ensure the jobseekers are provided with information and guidance around the assessment processes to enable them to prepare and perform to the best of their ability on the day, that hiring Managers are fully briefed to sell the organisation and address any questions that the candidate might have. An employer who recognises that this sharing of information is a 2 way process will create a more positive experience for candidates. Every communication applications have with your company should be consistent with your core values. Be open about your challenges and your vision. Offer them information they would not be able to find through on-line research. This element of talent acquisition strategy presents an ideal opportunity to build a positive image and attract high achievers into your company.
6) Always offer feedback
Lack of feedback to candidates whether successful or not, contributes to a poor candidate experience. Being turned down for a job, especially after an interview, often has a demoralising effect on jobseekers. When applicants have no idea why they were rejected, this can enhance their feelings of anxiety. Constructive feedback should be provided to candidates to enable them to improve their skills and interview techniques for future job searches. Every candidate making the final shortlist is a potential candidate for a future role – whether it is to match different requirements or once they have gained some necessary further experience – so it is important to keep them as ambassadors and promoters of your brand. A rejection shouldn’t be seen as the end of the relationship with that person but the start of a new relationship. As well, providing positive feedback to your preferred candidate will enhance their initial experience with our company and facilitate a seamless transition into their new role.
7) On-boarding process
Having invested significant time and effort in finding great people to hire, the final crucial stage is the on-boarding process. Here, it is important to deliver support to candidates through the pre-employment and their first few weeks and months. Basic information such as confirmation of start date, where to report to on the day and to whom, booking into induction and training programmes should all be provided in advance. To have a single contact for the new hire can make the on boarding process much smoother and avoids the pitfalls associated with questions and queries getting lost between teams. There are a number of ways to improve the experience of candidates, but one common and ever present theme is remembering that new employees are people with the same hopes, concerns, questions and aspirations as we all hold. Let’s not expect them to be happy with anything that we wouldn’t accept ourselves.
In today’s workplaces, talented workers have options. Jobseekers aren’t looking for just any new opportunity – they want the right one. Employers need to provide jobseekers a positive candidate experience if they want to attract the best talent available.
Making the hiring process intuitive, informative and collaborative will let candidates know the type of organisation you are and that you are sincere about creating a great work environment.
- Ann Burt, Managing Consultant Accounting & Finance