Given record low unemployment numbers, the best candidates for open positions at your company are already working somewhere else. That means candidates are no longer auditioning for jobs. The current job market is very much candidate-driven. Employers are doing the auditioning, while the candidates should be viewed as customers looking for solutions.
Just as the customer experience is a top priority in every industry, the candidate experience must be optimized to attract top talent to your organization. Unfortunately, the candidate experience is often lacking. For example, a Talent Board survey found that nearly half of candidates didn’t hear back from employers two months after they applied. About one-quarter of candidates withdrew their names from consideration because the process took too long.
The candidate experience is the perception, feelings and attitudes a job seeker develops about your organization during every phase of the hiring process, including the job listing, sourcing, screening, interviewing and onboarding. Years ago, a poor candidate experience would result in a candidate not accepting a position, not applying for future jobs with your organization, and warning others to stay away. In the age of social media, review sites and online forums, a poor candidate experience will spread more quickly to more people.
However, a positive candidate experience will likely bring more qualified applicants and referrals. It can also help you fill positions more quickly, reduce recruitment costs and improve employee retention. More than a buzzword, a positive candidate experience is a competitive advantage.
Writing a clear job description – one that explains job responsibilities and communicates a real value proposition, not just a list of requirements – is critical to improving the candidate experience. But that’s just the beginning. Keep in mind that candidates will probably have dozens of touch-points with your company before showing up for the interview.
The Talent Board survey found that 36.6 percent of applicants take less than 15 minutes to submit an application. On the other end of the spectrum, a separate study from CareerBuilder found that six in 10 applicants abandon applications due to length and complexity. The takeaway here is that simplicity is key. Candidates expect you to have a streamlined application process, which should leverage a career site as an extension of your human resources (HR) portal.
In fact, the CareerBuilder study found that your career site is the most visited recruiting asset you have. Use your career site to provide candidates with relevant information and answers to their questions so they don’t have to go elsewhere for research.
Once you have the pieces in place to deliver the best possible candidate experience, you need to continuously measure, analyze and optimize. What is your career site’s conversion rate? What is your application form abandon rate? What is the average time to submit an application? What is your email response rate? What is the average time to hire? Which recruitment sources perform best?
Using feedback surveys for all candidates, regardless of how far they advanced in the hiring process, is also critical to identifying problems and enhancing the candidate experience. Social media and review sites should also be monitored for comments about your organization’s hiring process.
The candidate experience is defined by every touch-point during the hiring process. Make sure your career site, HR portal, job listings, personnel, and processes for applying, interviewing and follow-up are delivering a candidate experience that reflects positively on your organization.
Written and composed by Lyndsay Soprano, Director of Marketing