Right now, job seekers control the job market. This means that recruiters and hiring managers can’t simply pick a candidate from a pile of applications and away they go. Instead, these job seekers have expectations for what they want their candidate experience to be throughout the recruitment process. The result of this can greatly impact their decision to accept a job offer.
What is the candidate experience?
Candidate experience is defined as how job seekers react to a company’s recruitment process, all the way from the initial attraction that led them to apply for a job, the recruitment process and even the onboarding and training activities post-job acceptance.
To improve your candidate experience, your business needs to re-evaluate every candidate-to-business touchpoint across the recruitment process. This involves putting yourself in the “job seekers shoes” and identifying areas of opportunity to come across as an “employer of choice.”
Here are the main touchpoints that make up the candidate experience during the recruitment stage:
- The job search: anything from social media posts, job advertisements or careers social media pages or webpages.
- The job application: the process of a job seeker applying for a position with your business.
- The pre-interview process: this includes the first point-of-contact you have with a job applicant.
- The interview process: how you organise interviews, what they are required to bring with them, how long the interview process goes for and what types of questions you ask potential candidates.
- The post-interview process: how you provide feedback to successful and unsuccessful candidates, how you go about completing reference checks and negotiating contracts.
- Onboarding: your training process for new employees, whether you provide them with a mentor, how you introduce them to their new team and how you establish job expectations.
It’s important to note that 48% of the job seekers base their candidate experience on previous interactions with potential employers before they applied for a job. Hence, it’s important to note that although most candidate experience touchpoints are in the active recruitment stage, some are passive.
Why delivering a positive candidate experience is crucial
A poor candidate experience decreases your chances of securing quality employees - it’s as simple as that. Here are key candidate experience statistics that illustrate the effects of a positive candidate experience versus a poor one:
- If presented with a positive overall candidate experience, job seekers were 38% more likely to accept a job offer.
- 72% of hiring managers believe their job descriptions are clear and simple, while 36% of candidates think otherwise.
- 81% of candidates are more likely to share a positive candidate experience with their direct network.
- If presented with a complex or lengthy application process, 60% of job seekers would not apply for that job.
- 87% of job seekers state a positive interview experience can make them reconsider a previously doubted role. In comparison, 83% of job seekers say a negative interview experience can actually make them reconsider their interest in a position.
- A poor candidate experience would have 72% of job seekers share that experience via online employer review sites.
Job seekers were almost four times more likely to re-apply to businesses if they notified them that they were unsuccessful and provided constructive feedback on their applications.
In their 2021 Candidate Experience Report, CareerPlug identified what led job seekers to decline a job offer and many of the reasons came down to a poor candidate experience.
CareerPlug then went on to identify how important the recruitment stage was to participants' overall candidate experience. They asked them to rate this on a scale of 1 to 10: with 10 being very important. The overwhelming response was a rating between 8 and 10.
If anything, these statistics about fostering a positive candidate experience should spark a desire to revise your existing recruitment strategies to ensure that you are meeting these expectations.
Improve your overall candidate experience in 10 easy steps
So how do you ensure that your candidate experience strategy is top-notch and will blow the competition out of the water if it comes down to a job seeker comparing your business with another? Here are 10 steps to help you foster a positive candidate experience.
Step 1: Create concise job descriptions
Candidates want job descriptions to be clear and detailed for the role they are submitting their resumes for. Instead of listing out, in far too much detail, what the ideal candidate for the position looks like and the qualifications they need to have, take a step back and make sure you provide candidates with an incentive to apply. What is the salary range of the role? Are there any potential benefits such as team events or bonuses? What about the company values and history? In saying this, make sure that this is all outlined in an easy-to-read format. All the other details can be covered in the pre-screening calls or in the interview.
Step 2: Keep the recruitment process transparent
Make sure job seekers completely understand the recruitment process from the get-go. How many interviews will there be and what will be addressed in each? Will different managers be interviewing them and if so, why. You want them to understand the recruitment process completely to better prepare and provide you with the information you need to assess their suitability for the role. 83% of job seekers state that clear recruitment process expectations would improve their overall candidate experience.
Step 3. Invest in dedicated business careers pages
This could be the careers page you currently have on your website or your businesses’ Facebook careers page. As these pages are the most visited recruiting assets, you want to keep them simple, easy to use and full of relevant information potential employees may want to know about a role or even your business itself.
Step 4: Support a seamless job application process
It takes an applicant around three to four hours to submit a single job application. Imagine you were in their position. Wouldn’t you appreciate a job application process that was easy to follow? If anything, wouldn’t that show that your business cares about the quality of their application and lead to a positive candidate experience? Revise your job application process and make sure it is also optimised for mobile.
Step 5: Respect job seeker efforts
It takes time for a job seeker to submit their resume or cover letter for your job advertisement. Many applicants research company values and incorporate them into their cover letters and even take time off work for interviews or screening calls. Make sure not to waste their time by making the entire application process quick and efficient. This will also reduce the risk of a candidate receiving more competitive offers from other organisations looking for talent.
Step 6: Keep communication constant
Job seekers’ number one frustration with recruitment processes comes down to poor communication from the hiring business. It’s simple enough to keep them posted with status updates throughout the recruitment process - yet so many companies fail to do this well, or at all. Keep them in the loop on how things are progressing. And most importantly, if they have been unsuccessful in progressing their application at any stage of the hiring process, let them know and provide feedback on why.
Step 7: Improve your interview process
First impressions count and a lot of the time, apart from the pre-screening call, the candidate interview is the first face-to-face interaction between the job seeker and hiring manager. Make sure you are as engaged in interviewing one candidate as you would be for the next. Keep interview questions appropriate and offer candidates the opportunity to ask you questions too. Why not take them on a tour of the office or have them meet a few of the team members to understand your company culture better.
Step 8: Provide and receive feedback
Whether you hire them or not, make sure to provide constructive feedback to all applicants. This can improve their experience and allow them to work on their skills and come back to apply for future roles. Job seekers will greatly appreciate your feedback and this will leave a “good taste in their mouth” regarding your company showing that you actually care and are willing to help them get to the next level in their career.
Step 9: Keep in touch
Make sure to keep in touch with unsuccessful candidates that show promise for future positions. The minute they finish an upskilling course you may have recommended in the constructive feedback you gave them, you’ll want them to re-apply. LinkedIn has great features for this where you can create candidate pools to send messages every so often to see how they are, where their career has taken them and if they may consider a potential opening in your business.
Step 10: Consider recruitment marketing initiatives
Consider inbound marketing initiatives around recruitment that proactively attract candidates with the goal of them choosing your organisation as their next employer. Essentially, inbound recruitment marketing strategies can allow your business to connect with active and passive job seekers, create a memorable candidate experience through employer branded content and keep you at the forefront of their minds. Try promoting employee testimonials on social media accounts, providing career advancement tips or hosting professional development courses.
When revising your candidate experience strategy, you may need to update job descriptions to make them clearer and, thus, more accurately translate them over to job advertisements and job seekers during the recruitment process. Here is a useful template to develop and review your role and position descriptions in your business.