Want to build an amazing company culture? It starts with exceptional candidate experience......
When we talk about creating awesome workplace cultures full of engaged employees, connected to the vision and values of the company, we tend to focus on the existing employee experience. What benefits and perks are we offering, are we paying the market rates, what does our latest employee survey say. The experience those employees and possible future employees have as candidates is the foundation and starting point to building an amazing culture.
Candidate experience is increasingly important in the current labour market. As the job market becomes more global and competitive, companies are facing a real battle for talent where top candidates have multiple job offers and can be more selective about the roles they take. An exceptional candidate experience can help companies stand out from the competition and attract the top talent. It can also make that talent more likely to apply for future roles and recommend the company to others. According to LinkedIn statistics 60% of job seekers have had a bad candidate experience and 80% of candidates who experience an unsatisfactory recruitment process revealed that they pro-actively tell people about their experience. And even more worryingly 50% of candidates will not purchase goods or services from a company after a bad job application experience. So your candidate experience can impact not only your employer brand reputation and talent acquisition but also your broader customer reputation affecting sales.
The good news is that 87% said a positive candidate experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted. So, it's a pretty powerful tool in promoting your brand reputation!
How can we improve and enhance candidate experience? It doesn't need lots of technology and huge recruitment teams, just a bit of thought and consideration. The answers to my crossword released last week (answers shown above) were what I consider are the key elements to an amazing candidate experience. I hope they help:
I know it's very HR'y to start on about preparation when you're all excited to be ready to recruit additional roles, especially when your company is growing rapidly and you want to rush to the market and get them started. HR the buzz-kill team heh!...but to coin a very old phrase "fail to prepare, prepare to fail". Just taking a bit of time to really map out what the role is needed for, what are the key outcomes this role is going to provide, how will this role interact with other roles/departments and most importantly, what does the dream person have, what skills and experience do they have? And finally, if you haven't already done this exercise, be clear on who you are... what is our culture here? What are our values? How do we like to interact and treat each other? If you define these clearly in advance of going out to the labour market it makes the process of finding the right match so much easier. I've seen companies rush to the market having been told that they have grown to a size where they now should recruit a marketing person, or a HR person or a business development person and they don't really know what they want them for, what level of skills they need and what they would consider success in the role so when the applications start flooding in, the recruiting managers are lost and don't know which one to pick and certainly have little confidence on future success in the role. It's all a bit hit and miss. So, boring but essential... just a couple of hours brainstorming can save hours and even weeks later down the line.
Feels like stating the obvious, but regular communication with your candidates throughout the application and selection process is so, so important. 65% of job seekers say they never or rarely receive notice of their application status and 80% of job seekers say they would not reapply to a company that didn’t notify them of their application status. Candidates are people and deserve to be treated with respect, after all they could be your future employees! Candidates are applying to lots of roles so your frequency and speed of communication can make the difference between being engaged with your process or a pain point which leads them to accept another company's offer. The amount you communicate status updates willimprove the candidate experience which marks you out from your competitors. I know frequent communication takes resources but it really does make a difference so it is worth the investment. Some of the initial stages can be automated stages through an ATS system, for example, an automated receipt of application but generally, I would recommend the communication be personal....
People buy from people. Effectively, you are selling your company to candidates so you will enhance your candidate experience by making as much of the communication personal, i.e. by a person. If possible, ensure the candidate speaks to the same person throughout the process. It really helps build up a connection and engagement with the company before they have even joined your company.
As mentioned above, most candidates are applying for multiple vacancies so the speed in which you move candidates through the stages of your process is critical. If you delay then your ideal candiate will have accepted an offer from another company. This takes us back to foundations.... when you go out to recruit, plan ahead the stages of the process, i.e. initial sift questions, video interview, task etc and how soon to move from one stage to the next so that you can block out time in your diaries to ensure that decisions are made quickly. Going back to foundations, it is easier to quickly know if a candidate is a match if you've got your clear job profile requirements, and you can use ATS systems for the initial sifting on clear parameters such as qualifications or experience. Don't let candidates sit waiting for more than 2 or 3 working days between stages as each day beyond that starts to diminish their engagement and connection. If there are delays, ensure these are communicated to the candidates, thanking them for the patience and informing them as to when they might hear next. Essentially, you're building trust with possible future employees, so do what you promised on the day you promised!
Ideally, if you've planned your stages then tell the candidates what to expect up front, even add it into the advert,. How many stages will they go through and likely timescales. Keep it transparent and please please don't add more than 4 stages to your process. I've seen 6 or 7 stage processes recently, particularly in remote roles and it is just tiring and tedious for the candidate and certainly it is hard to keep their engagement and excitment high over that many stages and weeks. Keep it to 4 or less.
Efficiency is getting the very best results with the least amount of waste. We are aiming to get the highest quality talent with the least amount of management time, delays, and costs. A LinkedIn survey showed that organisations that invested in a strong candidate expeirence improved the quality of their new hires by 70 percent. A higher quality hire is a more productive employee faster.
We also want to ensure the process is efficient for the candiates. So, don't make them enter all the details that are on their CV onto your application form, that is just soul destroying and says that your needs for a specific application form to be fully completed are more important than them as candidates. It is about putting them at the centre of the process. Make the application process easy for them to highlight their skills and strengths. I've seen application forms that can take hours to complete. 60% of job seekers report they have quit an application due to its length or complexity so keep it efficient and if possible fun!
Planning your recruitment stages to be efficient and timely is important but also be prepared to be flexible if the response you get is either too overwhelming or you haven't got enough candidates. Don't be afraid to change tack and go back to the market with a more refined search or, with too many candidates, be honest and tell them that you have received a lot of applications and introduce an additional sifting stage. Recruitment and selection should be an interative process, refining and adapting with each experience not thought about once and followed rigorously for every vacancy.
Take time to think if you are inclusive in your process. If a candidate asks if there is an alternative to say, a video application, as this would particularly make them anxious, don't just say, sorry, that's what we want and if you can't do it then tough luck. You may have just turned away the perfect candidate. Be prepared to have alternatives and offer these to ensure your application process is as accessible as possible to all.
Finally engagement. The theme that runs throughout. Ideally, you want your candidates to be hooked and engaged in your company, it's goals, dreams and values from the first job advert they read. But, all the stages count in the engagement journey. An eye catching advert, an honest, authentic job profile, a transparent and efficient process, lots of communication and feedback for those that are unsuccessful make all the difference to how engaged your candidate is with your company. If they are successful then they join your company filled with excitement and fired up to get involved with your goals and feeling like part of the team. If they are unsuccessful they will still tell their friends what a great experience they had who may apply or become customers. Nearly 4 in 5 candidates (78%) say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people. Candidate experience can change minds for better or for worse. You have the power to win great talent by enhancing your candidate experience and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, it just needs a bit of thought.
I can help you with all these stages so get in touch for a chat if you want to enhance your candidate experience.
This is just the start of building an amazing company. Follow us on LinkedIn to see our series of articles taking us through all stages of the employee experience and how each of them contribute to an awesome company culture.