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How to Build a Great Candidate Experience Pt. 1

Candidate experience has been gaining a larger focus among Talent Attraction professionals over the past few years and is increasingly becoming a priority. In LinkedIn’s 2017 Global Recruiting Trends report, 30 percent of TA Leaders indicated that if they had unlimited budget, they would invest it in Candidate Experience. And the Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Awards and Annual Report have helped champion this cause and provide numerous insights around the positive and negative business impacts of candidate experience.

This article is written under the assumption that you already know how important candidate experience is, so I’m not going to try to convince you. But I can help give you an idea of where to start and how you can begin making a positive impact on candidate experience for your organization.

Improving Your Candidate Experience Is a Journey

One of the first important things to recognize is that there is a long road ahead. The industry is plagued by an overabundance of technology, tools, processes and barriers that can make creating an effortless and outstanding candidate experience a real challenge. Very few companies have a perfect candidate experience. But some companies have taken many steps to improve this, and can provide learnings that you can take back to your organization. So, it’s important to level-set your expectations and understand that each step forward is a win, and that perfect candidate experience you strive for is going to take time.

Learning to Think Like a Candidate

One of the most important first steps you can take is to adapt the mind-set of the candidate. It may sound like a cliché, but this is extremely important. Recruiting organizations can get so lost in the internal needs of the business that their language, vernacular and approach to everything is 100 percent lost in the back end of the recruiting experience and not what the candidate goes through and feels.

Additionally, you have to remember that candidates are also customers. And today’s modern customer has grown accustomed to expecting great customer experiences. Just think of how far Amazon has come over the years with how effortless they have made online shopping. Or how simple Apple has made it to use their products and devices. Companies spend millions of dollars each year perfecting these experiences for their customers, yet recruiting departments seem to be years behind.

By flipping your mind-set to think like a candidate, you can start to see things from their perspective and it will make spotting the much-needed improvements that much easier.

Fixing the Job Search and Application Process

Now that I have you thinking like a candidate, where do you start? Well for starters, I think it’s super important to “mystery shop” your own candidate experience. Go through the application process yourself. Ask someone you know to go to your career site and tell you how easy it is to find jobs. Some of the lowest-hanging fruit you can go after is the job search and application experience. Making it easy for candidates to search for jobs and apply can go a long way.

Also, you’ll likely find that your application requires a lot of information from the candidates that may be unnecessary. Great passive talent doesn’t want to invest a ton of time providing a plethora of information, and you can easily be missing out on great talent if you have a long and cumbersome application.

It’s important to start working with stakeholders within your organization to narrow down the most important information needed, so you can make this process as easy as possible for the candidate. And you don’t want to lose out on the great talent that you attracted to your site because they “abandoned their shopping cart.” You’ll likely find that a lot of that required information is “negotiable,” and making those changes can drastically improve your completion rate.

Get Access to the Right Data

In addition to just exploring how the application process feels, it’s important to get hard data on your candidate experience. You should be able to work with your HR systems or reporting team to start gathering data points around the candidate funnel, from the application to all the steps that come after, such as assessments, candidate reviews and interviews. This data can be extremely valuable. It can show you where the process is broken, and where it is working well.

I’ve recently worked with a large telecommunications client who was able to increase their completion rate for a set of roles by automating a step in the candidate process that was previously done manually. Before they made the change, candidates were relying on recruiters to manually go through and move them along in the process. And while this may seem obvious, it took uncovering the data to get the right people within the organization to recognize that the change needed to be made. Since then, this organization has developed standard reporting that they use to evaluate all aspects of the candidate funnel, and can address issues down to the recruiter level as they happen.

Ask Your Candidates How the Experience is

Another great way to get a gauge and benchmark your current candidate experience is to simply ask your candidates. You may consider participating in the Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Awards, or even simply developing your own candidate survey that you send out. There are a lot of ways to do this, and it could vary from adding a feedback form on your website to just good old survey outreach. I would recommend participating in the Candidate Experience Awards, however, as this will not only help you create your own benchmarks, but also benchmark against other companies.

Now that you’ve examined your organization’s candidate experience, it’s time to put your findings into action. Find out how to do that next week in Pt. 2 of our series.

Want to learn how to think like a candidate? Register for the TalentBoard webinar on 8/31 co-hosted by TMP Vice President and Client Architect, Chris Citero.

About Chris Citero

Chris currently leads strategy and execution across a diverse group of cross-functional teams for Radancy. Chris’s work has been recognized and awarded by the Web Marketing Association’s Internet Advertising Competition & Mobile Web Awards, The Webby’s, ERE, as well as the Creative Excellence Awards. Chris lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and loves traveling, exploring and pursuing his many creative outlets. He’s also known to moonlight as a hip-hop artist and can on occasion turn his kitchen into a pop-up restaurant.

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