Fixing the Black Hole: What you can do to improve your candidate experience right now - Part 1

This interview/article originally appeared on Recruiting Trends

The Candidate Experience has been a hot topic lately, and for a good reason. The Candidate Experience Awards (CandEs) have amassed a mountain of data over the past few years, which for the first time has begun to define not what a poor experience looks like (we already knew that), but rather what a great experience looks like.

In addition, the data from the CandE employer and candidate surveys is illustrating the impact that the candidate experience has on an organization’s employment and corporate brand. Yes, there is a correlation between a poor candidate experience and a candidate’s willingness to reengage with an employer, share their poor experience with their inner circle AND social networks, and even their willingness to engage with your organization as a consumer or business partner.

First Impressions Count Most

There are a number of components to the candidate experience, but as in many other facets of life, the first impression is often the most important one. The first impression in the candidate experience is typically generated when a candidate hits your job posting and begins to apply to your job. Technology, which was supposed to improve efficiency and accessibility in the job search process, has instead in many cases created the proverbial ‘black hole’, where resumes and candidates go to die. What many organizations overlook is that how candidates apply to our jobs and how we communicate with them is often completely under our control.

As a corporate recruiting leader and more recently as a consultant, I have consistently operated under the guiding principle that you treat candidates like customers, as they could be one today or in the future. If that initial transaction makes such a huge impression, why are so many companies so bad at it?

Many problems with companies and their ATS can be traced back to the initial implementation, a time when maybe the candidate experience may not have been a key driver of the design and configuration of the system. With a little consideration for the fundamentals of a great candidate experience, any organization can do some simple things that can have a tremendously positive impact. So what are those fundamentals? The CandE Candidate survey results have illustrated specifically what candidates view as the difference between a great experience and a poor one. Explore the fundamentals and ask yourself, is there room to improve? If yes, then you have an opportunity to improve your candidate experience. In Part 1 of this article, we will explore the importance of being transparent with candidates about your process.

Be Up Front with the Candidate

Be transparent – Is your application lengthy? Is there an assessment or tax credit survey involved? What will you do with the candidate’s data? If it takes 30 minutes to complete an online application which includes an assessment, pre-screening questions and a tax credit survey, that’s OK, just make the candidate aware up front. CandE Candidate Survey data demonstrated that completing an application fast was not a key to satisfaction, but describing the process and illustrating a candidate’s progress throughout the application was.

In addition, candidates are sensitive to what will happen to their personal data. Where is it stored? How long will you keep it? What will you do with it? Explain all of this to the candidate with some simple text (or even better, a video) before they start the application and they will be much more accepting of what you are asking them to do.

In part two of this article, we will explore the importance of ensuring that your application process is relevant and courteous.