Defining the Three Key Phases of the Candidate Experience

It’s Time to Rethink the Candidate Experience

To make the kind of holistic, long-lasting change that truly revolutionizes the candidate experience and makes a tangible impact on your organization’s hiring practices, you need to completely rethink your approach.

The focus should be on three areas that are critical to every organization:

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Brand Perception

Again, optimizing the candidate experience is no different from the thinking around a typical customer engagement strategy. Organizations must cultivate their “employer brands” intentionally and authentically to align with their company cultures. The strength of your brand affects how employees see your organization and what they imagine working there would be like.

To promote positive brand perception, employers need to do the work to understand the relationship to their company’s overarching brand and how it resonates with their target talent. It’s important to ask why certain people gravitate toward your organization and others don’t. Presenting a brand that misrepresents the company could not only be misleading and disorienting for candidates, but it might dissuade candidates who align with your organization’s attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs from applying at all.

Developing a strong employer brand involves more than just updating a career site or job ads.

Thirty-eight percent of candidates spend one to two hours researching each job they apply for. The Talent Board

Many candidates spend much more time researching your organization. This means that employers have more opportunity and space to make a good impression, but they must have a consistent brand and effective strategy. Additionally, candidates can develop job-hunting fatigue, and by making your content easily accessible, you can make great leaps toward improving the candidate’s perception of your company.

A good employer brand provides a window into the organization and helps candidates understand critical aspects such as mission, values, and culture. It’s important to think like your candidates: How do they speak? How do they want to be spoken to? Does your content speak in a language they understand?

If you want to truly improve brand perception, you need to thoroughly evaluate and align every candidate touch point.

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Just as important as the content you create and distribute is the content that others create about your company. Candidates consistently turn to social networking sites and job review sites such as Glassdoor for third-party perspectives on the reality of everyday life at an organization.

Finally, where companies advertise is just as important as what they advertise. Just as Chanel purses aren’t sold at big-box discount stores, promoting a positive perception of an organization’s brand matters even with regard to where you place ads and post jobs. If you want to truly improve brand perception, you need to thoroughly evaluate and align every candidate touch point to work together to foster an engaging, efficient candidate experience.

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Engaging Passive Talent

Attracting passive talent is the white whale of recruiting. Every organization wants to figure out how to effectively engage and capitalize on the large number of job seekers who might not be actively looking for new positions. These are often top performers who, while open to other opportunities, won’t switch jobs overnight and need to be convinced that a new position is worth the transition. To attract and engage passive talent effectively, your company’s brand, advertising, and content must all work together to communicate a consistent, powerful message and mission. That message to the market needs to live everywhere passive candidates might touch your brand. This means your organization needs to:

Find ways to engage with passive candidates.

It might take more effort, but when organizations do land these candidates, they receive incredible benefits including high performance and a lower chance of turnover.

Foster ongoing relationships, not just over the weeks of the hiring process, but before and after through the use of talent communities and customer relationship management (CRM).

This will require a content strategy and rethinking of the typical approach — treating the active job seeker and passive job seeker identically just won’t cut it.

Capitalize on Web traffic created by passive talent.

Instead of using a one-dimensional applicant tracking system that requires the candidate to submit an application, provide ways for passive candidates to engage and learn about your company without having to apply. A proper content and engagement strategy and a CRM are critical in executing this plan after you develop your strategy.

Passive Talent Content Guidelines

Just starting to engage passive talent? Here are a few starting points to help you write for this audience:

  • Talk about your company’s values
  • Show your culture and values in action
  • Highlight recent company developments such as product launches or branch openings
  • Profile employees in an authentic way
  • Don’t overproduce content; rather, deliver a genuine reflection of your organization
  • Consider drip marketing to candidates over weeks and months

Engaging passive talent may seem like a daunting task, but the opportunity is just too good to pass up. Don’t wait for people to come to you. Create a candidate experience that expands your talent pool and enables you to hire the best performers.

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Hiring Process

Is your hiring process focused on the candidate experience as it should be? Are you losing candidates because of long fill times, status transparency issues, poor disposition, or antiquated processes?

Fifty-two percent of candidates who had five-star overall experiences were able to view progress indicators showing how much of the application process they had completed. The Talent Board
Forty-seven percent of candidates never received any communication two months after applying. The Talent Board

The best way to evaluate your hiring process is to use benchmarks and analytics to get a bird’s-eye view of your hiring process and see exactly where candidates are falling through the cracks. With the right data, you can also get more-granular insight into where candidates are looking and clicking — and into how well your contact points are converting. This includes surveying not only the selected candidates but the rejected candidates in a prompt fashion. Requesting feedback a month after someone applied will be irrelevant.

The user experience can be a huge barrier to an efficient hiring processes. Fragmented and clunky software can cause a disconnect and even frustration for applicants. Every portal and online interaction should serve to speed up the process, not slow it down.

Candidates expect their application experiences to mirror the online shopping experience.

Improve the candidate experience by offering the ability to:

  • Save the application and return later
  • Get automated reminders and suggestions
  • Connect with the company and employees on social networks
  • Learn about the culture through employee testimonials and organic content

As you evaluate updating your technology, remember OP + NT = BAP Old process plus new technology equals a bad automated process.

To get lasting and effective results, you have to make foundational changes.

The hiring process is too important to just accept business as usual. You can’t afford to miss indicators that change must happen. If your organization doesn’t actively address and manage these points, it will miss out on critical components of the candidate experience.

Take action now.

To understand and make improvements to the three phases of the candidate experience, start with these action items:

  • Storyboard the entire hiring process and all candidate touch points to identify opportunities for engagement and communication — and have something in place.
  • Align your values, culture, and brand in your content (text, imagery, and video) and look to key employees to participate in helping to create this content.
  • Update your process for hiring, so the “nuts and bolts” of your recruiting practice align with the way today’s candidates want to interact with you; don’t accept “just because” mentality — ask yourself “why not” to ensure your organization has chosen the best possible processes.