I love the candidate experience! I don't think we should stop talking about it. But we should be talking about it within the context of the entire recruiting process which includes candidates, recruiters and hiring managers.
Group using technology

It’s not that we don’t think the candidate experience is important. In fact, quite the opposite. We say this because of how important it is. But we need to get to the point where the candidate experience is ingrained in every talent acquisition activity and initiative. It needs to be a core component of every strategy and every technology decision. When we view it as a separate initiative managed by a separate staff, we fail.

The candidate experience is the holy grail of talent acquisition. It has become difficult to talk about the future of recruitment without focusing on the candidate. Aptitude Research Partners found that improving the candidate experience is the top priority for organizations. In fact, companies that invest in the candidate experience are 3 times more likely to improve quality of hire and 4 times more likely to retain top performers. Clearly, it matters. But the reality is that most companies fall short:

– Only 1 in 3 companies have been successful at improving the candidate experience in the past year (Aptitude Research Partners, 2017);

– Only 40% of companies are even required to respond to a candidate at all during the process (The Talent Board, 2016); and

– Less than 30% of companies are engaging with candidates during the hiring process (Aptitude Research Partners 2017).

In the consumer world, marketing departments spend energy and resources trying to understand, communicate, and connect with the consumer. They identify, nurture, and engage buyers in a way that builds a long-term relationship. Why wouldn’t recruiting do the same for candidates? This three-part blog series will look at the impact of today’s Experience Economy on candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers.

Let’s start with some recommendations for technology and strategies for improving the experience:

What Strategies Should You Consider?

  • Put Yourself in the Candidates’ Shoes: Do you like automated emails sent weeks after you apply to a job? Do you like filling out tedious, mind-numbing online forms? Of course not. Then why do we continue to do this to our candidates? Companies need to communicate consistently throughout the process and make sure that communication is frequent and meaningful. Some organizations have a five business day follow-up rule for recruiters to reach out to anyone who filled out an application. Set your own rules and stick to them.

 

  • Hey, [First Name], Make it Personal: Now, I’m not talking about using more email marketing personalization. I’m talking about real, authentic, one-on-one conversations with your candidates. Make them feel like you truly care. Because you should. Ultimately, you want to cater to the needs of the individual – not a collective group – and recognize that all individuals are not the same. Ninety-four percent (94%) of companies believe that personalizing communications will help employees do their job better, according to Aptitude Research Partner’s 2017 Hire, Engage, Retain study.

 

  • Measure the Process: Wow, you made it this far in the post! Did you know that you are 50% more likely to connect with us if you read more than half of one of our blog posts? Proceed at your own risk! But just like marketers, organizations must evaluate candidate engagement throughout the entire process from attraction to hiring. According to Aptitude’s 2016 research, less than 50% of companies measure candidate experience. Candidate engagement can come through surveys, conversations, and conversion rates. It can also come through the adoption of different technology solutions.

How Can Technology Enable a Positive Experience?

  • Don’t Rely on Email. Be Human: Companies rely too heavily on email to communicate with candidates. Email can come off as indifferent and it removes the human element from the conversation. What’s worse, according to Aptitude research in 2016, 47% of candidates are not even opening their email from recruiters or HR. Companies need to use more meaningful ways to engage with candidates, such as messaging, video, or social media. These vehicles provide conversations that are more effective and, in many cases, more efficient.

 

  • Content is King: Technology solutions should provide candidates with the information they need to be prepared and confident in the job process. This type of information should include company background, hiring teams, and status updates. It should come in various forms including text and video. Aptitude research found that only 1 in 2 companies provide information to candidates during the hiring process. How do you expect candidates to want to work for you if you can’t provide compelling content? Let them get a sense for what it’s like to work for your organization. Let them meet the people, see the space, and get a feel for the culture.

 

  • Think Beyond the ATS: The Applicant Tracking System is designed to help with the candidate workflow and compliance. In fact, Aptitude found that 20% of companies are dissatisfied with their ATS provider. It was not designed to be a communication tool. Companies that want to be successful at improving the candidate communication must think beyond their ATS and invest in tools that can better engage with candidates. For example, what are you using for recruitment marketing? Are you storing your candidates in a CRM? Are you engaging with your candidates through online events?

Given the amount of time spent talking about the candidate experience, can’t we do better? Candidates are also customers, and just as organizations prioritize customer satisfaction, the same emphasis should be placed on the candidate.

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