Candidate Experience is becoming a major focus for recruiting organizations. They are overhauling their career sites and launching new customer service and employer branding campaigns designed to improve every candidate’s experience. To measure if these initiatives are working many are turning to their website data, recruitment metrics and candidate surveys to determine what’s working and what’s not.
And while all this analysis is great and should be done, one of my favorite ways to determine the success of candidate experience is as simple as just applying for one of your jobs. While this information is qualitative, it can provide you with a clear idea on what you like and don’t like about your own recruiting process from a candidates point of view.
This is the first thing I do when I come across a new prospect or client to understand what their process is like and how we can best help them improve this process. I’ve been doing a fair amount of ghost applying lately and here are some of the common problems I’ve seen in the recruitment marketing process:
Job Ad Dysfunction: Most of the job ads I came across were sub-par. Very few actually tried to convince me why I should want this job and want to work for their company. Instead they went on to describe all the position responsibilities and requirements needed (while some using internal jargon). This information has it’s place, however, should be included along with marketing messaging.
The job advertisement represents the first contact with a candidate in most situations. And I think many organizations are missing a huge opportunity to brand themselves and convince the candidate why their company is a great place to work. Let your job distribution campaigns answer the why first and what later.
Double Sign-In Required: This was probably the biggest pain I ran into: the dreaded double sign-in. So for a few Career Sites I visited it required me to create 2 different accounts to just get into the application. I understand that companies want to create Talent Communities and capture candidate information in databases outside of their ATS but this is a little overboard. At the very least candidates should have a choice on whether to join the Talent Community before they apply.
What I’m most curious about is how many candidates drop-off due to this practice and don’t complete the apply process. There has to be an easier way for candidates to join your Talent Community or be added to your Recruitment CRM without building a second account wall in the apply process. I’m sure I’ll have more on this later.
Attention Span Error: The whole apply process is just too long for today’s short attention spans. Whether it’s requiring the input of information that’s already on the resume, not having a clear time-frame for how long it will take or not being clear with what a candidate needs to apply (i.e. cover letter, resume, recommendations, etc.), there is a disconnect between what information is crucial to make an initial decision on candidates and what companies are requiring.
The processes I liked the best were shorter, enabled my resume to flow information where needed and set an expectation at the beginning of how long it would take. And this is not to say that some of the processes were great but many were too long (more than 6-7 minutes) for my taste.
No Next Steps or Confirmation: After I applied, a few times I did not receive a confirmation that my application was accepted (which should be done.) But on top of that I usually received a confirmation that was just “Thanks for applying for [Position X], we’ll get back to you within a [specified time period]“. So a few things on this response.
First, I love that many organizations set the expectation for when a response should be expected. It takes some of the black hole out of the process (as long as you get back to them).
Second, I think there’s another missed opportunity here. Both after you apply in the application and in the confirmation email, you have an opportunity to direct candidates to the content / portal of your choice. Organizations should use this to point candidates to great employment branding content on their website, social recruiting profiles where they can engage with candidates or other portals that can help them interact with the organization. Not enough organizations are doing this.
Improving candidate experience can not only heighten the opinion of your organization in the eyes of candidates but can have a considerable impact on your overall applicant flow. Small changes can have a big impact on the candidate experience and it’s importantly to continuously measure your funnel to understand how these changes are affecting your apply rates.
You can connect with me on Twitter @smashfly.