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Where does the Candidate Experience start?

Yesterday, I had a brief but great conversation with Kyle Lagunas on Candidate Experience (which he’s going to be tackling on his awesome blog over the next few weeks).  We talked about some cool things organizations are doing as well as major problems that exist in the industry with regards to Candidate Experience.

 

What became apparent in the conversation, however, was that we needed to determine what lies under the umbrella of Candidate Experience.  Where does it start and what aspects of recruiting it touches?

 

When I think about Candidate Experience, I see it as starting with first contact with a candidate.  This not only includes the first one on one engagement between a candidate and a recruiter but also the first interaction a candidate has with your jobs and employer brand (whether through your Career Site, a job board, social profile, etc.)  Every touch-point from the first contact to ultimately when a candidate is hired (or not hired) by your organization is included in the overall Candidate Experience.

 

So what activities and areas of interest fall under this umbrella of Candidate Experience?  Here are some that I think are crucial to think about when trying to improve your Candidate Experience.

 

Employment Messaging: Your employment messaging spans a number of different avenues and places on the web.  From your Career Site to your Job Ads to your social profiles.  It’s important to understand what makes your brand special and be able to communicate it in all these channels.  While your sourcing team may be calling into candidates to initiate the first conversation, most likely the first interaction of a candidate with your recruiting organization will occur online so it’s important to optimize the messaging for these channels.  There’s nothing like a boring job distribution campaign or job infested Career Site to turn off a candidate.

Online Education:  This goes hand in hand with employment messaging but I think it was important to single out.  While there are resources like GlassDoor for candidates to find information on careers at your company, you more than likely want to control what is educated to candidates about you, right?  Both before and after the apply process you want to provide candidates with the information they need to understand why they should want to work at your company and what you expect from your employees.

This content should exist on your Career Site and should cover information on the recruiting process, company culture, employee achievements as well as targeted messaging to specific groups of candidates (i.e. marketing professionals, engineers, etc.)  The best candidates want to learn as much as they can about your company and you need to make sure this information is available to them (or someone else will.)

Apply Process:  I can go talk about this in great detail but I’ll save it for another post.  Basically, you want to make sure your apply process as easy as possible while capturing the bare minimum of info you need to make a good screening decision on a candidate.  Check out our own Mary Grace Hennessy’s post on this very topic.

Interview Process: Once a candidate is screened and enters your interview process it’s very important to do a few things.  First, you need to set expectations for what the process will entail and how feedback is shared.  Second, you need to make sure to “close the loop” (a term I’m borrowing from Ed Newman) with all candidates making sure that for every step of the process includes a reaction by your organization.  Basically, if a candidate interviews with you, make sure to communicate your decision to them.  You could say it’s the anti-black hole.

Talent Network / Social: Not only should you get back to everyone that finishes your apply (automated) & interview (personal) process but you can also create channels for those who aren’t hired to remain engaged with your brand.  Through your own internal Talent Network and social channels you have a way to continue to interact with candidates that just aren’t currently ready for positions you are hiring for and presents a way to remain engaged by providing great content.

This can also help bridge the gap between when candidates initially apply and when you want to personally re-engage with them for future positions.

On-boarding: After you make a hire, it’s important to not let all your hard work come crumbling down by not providing the new employee with the tools to make them successful at your organization.  Develop an on-boarding strategy that enables new employees to embrace your corporate culture and helps them be the employee that you use in your next employer branding campaign.

Employees: A great candidate experience can quickly become unhinged if your employees don’t buy into your company and dislike working for your company.  If your employees don’t believe your organization is a good place to work, it will be hard to convince candidates of it.

Candidate Experience touches most every part of the recruiting process and can have a great impact on the number as well as quality of candidates that apply to your company.  The key is to consistently measure with recruitment metrics what is happening in your recruitment funnel and what content in your process resonates the best with your candidate audience.

This will help you improve your Candidate Experience and thus improve your overall recruiting results.

Views: 243

Tags: Career, Network, Site, Talent, apply, candidate, experience, metrics, process, recruitment

Comment by Lauren Smith on April 12, 2012 at 9:27pm

Very interesting, Chris.  

I've been researching this question myself.  Conversely, when would you say that the CE ends? After they've signed the offer letter? After the new hire orientation? After the first 90-days? 

Lauren Smith

Director of Marketing

www.ascendify.com

Comment by Gerry Crispin on April 13, 2012 at 3:06pm

Nicely done. Thanks. You may want to add this free whitepaper into the mix. it's based on this past year's surveys of 55 firms Candidate Experience practices and related surveys of nearly 11,500 candidates of 24 of those 55 firms. http://www.thecandidateexperienceawards.org. It supports many of your assertions. We treated the start and end fairly conservatively by considering the time frame from Researching to Applying to Finalist to Onboarding. The responses to questions like "How do you treat people who apply who are unqualified" are especially interesting when compared to the responses of nearly 7,000 candidates who were rejected and answered the question about how they learned of the rejection. Anyway, more food for thought.

Comment by Chris Brablc on April 13, 2012 at 4:16pm

Lauren - I appreciate the comment and great question.  It might be a bit of a cop out but I think the Candidate Experience never really ends.  When you are aiming to provide a great candidate experience I think you need to think on terms of the overall candidate population you have as opposed to a bunch of individual candidates going through the process.  That means making sure the each step of your process ensures that all candidates are treated fairly.

When you start talking about candidates that become employees then that gets into more of a company culture conversation in keeping employees happy and retaining them.  And while this is more of a core HR issue, happy employees can be an extremely important piece of the recruiting equation.

Gerry - Thanks for sharing that great info and glad you liked the article.  I would love to see the responses to the latter.  I'm sure there were some divergent opinions.  For any recruiting organizations, I believe they are still accepting applications for the Candidate Experience Awards until May 1st so feel free to apply at http://www.thecandidateexperienceawards.org.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on April 13, 2012 at 5:16pm

Chris, good list. The only part I (sort of ) disagree with is where/when the candidate experience begins. I actually believe it starts at the point of deciding there is a need to fill a position or to source for future hires in anticipation of an opening.  

The reason I say that is because the candidate experience is highly dependent on how well the company defines the role and subsequently how well they advertise that to their target talent pool. Too many companies simply post job descriptions as a way to attract talent versus a tailored "what's in it for me" message that will make someone in the top talent category feel compelled to apply or express interest. 

We constantly see complaints from companies that say they aren't finding qualified candidates. On the other side, we have candidates frustrated that they apply based on what they think the company wants/needs only to be ignored or rejected for not being a fit.

To me much of that could be avoided through the creation of more focused career marketing ads to reflect what that fit is up front. As well as effectively communicating that throughout the sourcing, screening, assessing and selecting phase. There should be alignment all the way through to prevent anyone wasting time pursuing the wrong fit. 

I also agree that the candidate experience doesn't really ever end. Between the need to retain talent (re-recruit) and potentially attract referrals from current employees, the cycle continues throughout the duration of the employment relationship. Even after a person leaves the organization, companies should remain alert to how former members view them in regards to promotion (or not) of their employer brand. 

KB @TalentTalks 

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