Implement these best practices to turn your best applicants into new hires, and the rest into your employer brand advocates.
The time has come for a candidate experience “Bill of Rights.” For employers, a well-planned and consistently positive candidate experience results in quicker times to fill positions, stronger quality of hires, more employee referrals, and a measurably improved employer brand. For talent, a positive experience increases the likelihood of accepting a job offer, and better engagement, performance, and retention for candidates who are hired. Even rejected applicants can become employer brand advocates who champion your company and candidate experience.
The Talent Board surveyed more than 45,000 job applicants about the candidate experience, and what they discovered confirms the importance of getting it right:
After a positive candidate experience…
- 96% would be more likely to apply to the company in the future
- 93% would be more likely to accept a job offer
- 88% of candidates say they would be more likely to tell others to apply
- 71% would be more likely to buy the company’s products or services
- 66% would be more likely to contribute a positive review on Glassdoor
The flip side of this coin—getting the candidate experience wrong—is an ongoing stigma for your employer brand. Fortunately, as a majority of companies have made it a priority to re-envision the candidate experience, few companies are still taking this risk. Many, however, are falling short of delivering an exceptional experience and reaping optimal benefits. To fully commit to this project, we recommend enumerating these five candidate “rights” as the framework of your best practices.
- The Right to Empathy – Truly exceptional candidate experiences are born out of employers’ willingness to see the entire process through the job seeker’s eyes. 59% of job seekers have had a bad experience when applying for a job, and these experiences can all be traced to a lack of employer empathy. Applicant and candidate surveys, role-playing, and focus groups are all useful resources in being able to understand the unique personas to which you must appeal.
- The Right to a Personalized Experience – Each applicant must believe that his or experience is unique, personalized, and reflective of his or her actions during the process. To deliver personalization, your organization must collect data from prospective candidates, past candidates, and current employees in order to generate an employee profile for each position. The next step is to segment these profiles into candidate personas. Identify the qualities of each persona including their backgrounds, concerns, ambitions, challenges, and even potential objections to your company. Then map a tailored candidate experience to each.
Millennials expect tailored experiences, and the most talented of them have demonstrated an unwillingness to apply to companies with a reputation for not delivering. Whereas members of older generations are more likely to spend hours blindly applying to positions, this generation spends time researching employers through social connections, news sites, and employer review sites. Their research is geared to understanding you as an employer. In turn, they demand the “right” to an experience that reflects their uniqueness.
- The Right to Communication – Failure to communicate and engage with candidates at any stage in the experience is no longer acceptable. The new—and expected—standard in communication is continuous engagement between both parties. Employers send communications and request information as both parties get to know one another. There are many more communication touchpoints in the typical interaction today than there were just two years ago, and these are often automated.
In a typical engagement with a candidate, an application is received, and the employer’s systems get to work sending assessments, asking questions, and segmenting (for increasingly personalized communications). The communications acknowledge the time and effort each candidate puts into responding, as well as the specific things they say. The employer determines each candidate’s level of interest and moves them to the right next step. Every strong candidate receives an escalating series of communications that elevates their understanding about the company and their potential role.
- The Right to Fairness – We have arguably more evidence for the frustration that results from candidates’ negative and unfair experiences than we do for gravity. Unhappy candidates are all over social media, warning friends and family, sharing their stories, further researching other candidates’ experiences, and posting information. 59% of candidates who have a negative experience would tell others not to apply. Frustratingly unfair experiences are common in these stages of the candidate journey:
- Online application – This form is often too time consuming and demands information that is not necessary at this stage. The rationale has always been to weed out candidates who aren’t interested, but the caveat is that interested candidates today perceive this as unfair. “Pipelining,” when there is no open position also creates a perception of unfairness.
- Closure – Turning down candidates is a natural part of the process for candidates. But the standards for respectful rejection have changed. Candidates who interview expect a personalized form of communication, and even candidates who apply and don’t advance to an interview expect some form of notice that they won’t be getting an offer.
- The Right to Accountability – The younger generations see employer-employee relationships as necessarily egalitarian. That makes accountability more important than ever. Yet there remains a pervasive lack of accountability in key areas of the candidate experience, including:
- Job Posting –59% and 58% of surveyed job seekers, respectively, were frustrated by a lack of salary information and job description detail. This experience is extrapolated by the best candidates to mean that the employer will not be accountable for providing the information and resources they need to perform their jobs, once hired.
- Interview process – 41% of candidates receive little or no information about who they will be interviewing with, background details, and how long the interview will last. The best candidates want to do their research on LinkedIn and elsewhere, and expect some basic information to get started.
Clearly, a positive candidate experience is one of the most effective forms of marketing your employer brand. Ingraining these “rights” into your human resources protocols and company culture will go a long way toward distinguishing your candidate experiences from the competition’s.