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Recruitment strategy: Improve your Candidate Experience

Job hunting is a frustrating process. Often it can feel like you are sending out applications into the void. Too few employers consider the candidate experience, to the detriment of their branding and recruitment process. Now that the job market is more advantageous to seekers, a positive candidate experience will give you a leg up with your competitors and help you secure top talent.

Candidate experience refers to the entire process a candidate goes through, from the moment they see a job listing, through the hiring process, and including orientation for those hired. This is the first impression a candidate forms of a workplace and the company culture. How you treat candidates reflects on your company. Not only are you searching for the right fit -- candidates are judging you and the hiring process speaks volumes.

A positive candidate experience improves your hiring process, but a poor candidate experience can tarnish your brand’s reputation. 

Mistakes to Avoid

At worst, a bad candidate experience can result in a selected candidate refusing the position. An awful experience will color the perception of your company and demolish your strong branding. The candidate may be less likely to apply again, buy your company’s products, and may even influence others to not apply or buy products from your company. 

What makes a poor candidate experience? CareerBuilder’s 2017 Candidate Experience Study has uncovered areas of struggle for hiring managers.

4 in 5 job seekers say that the candidate experience tells them how a company treats their employees, but only 49% say that hiring managers treat them with the same level of respect and accountability as employees. If you’re not part of that 49%, you might find yourself losing top talent to competitors who make a better impression.

Unclear information and lack of transparency is a huge detriment to the candidate experience. A poor job description will deter applicants, or fail to draw the kind of talent you are looking for. 89% of job seekers say that a career site is important for getting information, but only 24% of employers report that their career site accurately portrays what it’s like to work for their company. An effective career site can go a long way to improving your candidate experience. 

Poor communication is sadly prevalent, which is no excuse with the ease of automated emails. The majority of online applicants never get a response from their application, not even an automated form reply. 81% of candidates say that regular updates on the hiring process would be an improvement. It seems like a common courtesy for hiring managers to send notifications of a received application and filled position, but many companies neglect to do so. 

Improve your Candidate Experience 

A candidate that has a good experience with your company is more likely to accept a job offer, tell others to apply, and to use your company’s products. You should not only woo your top candidates, but keep in mind that everyone who applies for your openings is forming opinions about your company.

Over half of candidates say that hiring managers don’t do a good job of setting expectations. Nothing’s worse than finding out during a job interview that the job doesn’t match the description. Write a complete job description and make sure that the candidates are aware of every step of the process. A clear and accurate job description will attract the candidates you want and reflects well on your company. It's also important to set clear expectations about interviews and communication.

Make sure to stay in touch with your applicants. Too often, candidates apply to jobs and never hear anything in return, which besides being frustrating, paints a negative picture of your company. Send confirmation emails, timely responses, and notice when a position is filled. At the very least, you should set up automatic emails for these purposes. It is easy to customize automatic emails, and there is also recruitment software and applicant tracking systems (ATS) available to help manage and stay in communication with candidates.

 In addition, 81% of job seekers want the job description or career site to include contact information for questions and follow up.

Consider the process from the job-seeker’s perspective. How long does it take to complete your job application? 28% of candidates report that the application takes too long. A great way to improve your application process is by having someone go through the job application and give you feedback. It’s also smart to get feedback from employees to make sure that your job description and application process accurately depict the company culture.

The interview is not only the opportunity to get to know your candidate, but for your candidate to get to know you.The interviewer is largely responsible for directing the experience. For a successful interview, make sure that expectations are communicated to the candidate. Beforehand, tell the candidate the purpose of the interview, the expected length, and if there will be multiple interviews. Ask relevant questions, and be fair and transparent.

Don’t overlook how candidate experience impacts your hiring process and company brand. The evidence is clear -- poor candidate experience is going to hurt your company in the long run. Take steps to review your process and identify areas of improvement.

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