Organizations that have a candidate experience strategy in place realize the work isn’t over simply by having a strategy. They need to regularly audit their process to ensure it’s working the way they intended. The organizations also need to look for trends that they might want to incorporate into their strategy. There will always be reasons to improve the candidate experience.
The most obvious way to improve the candidate experience is by treating candidates with respect, so I’m not going to include that in the list. Every organization needs to understand that candidates are also interviewing and making decisions about the quality of the company. The hiring process is a two-way street. That said, there are a few other tactics that organizations might want to consider.
1. Market the company. The Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report noted that most candidates continue to take control of their job search, with 75% of candidates conducting their own job search research across multiple channels before actually applying. Candidates find company values and employee testimonials to be the two most valuable types of marketing content when they are considering a company, at 42% and 36% respectively.
Organizations can include their employee values on their company website and career webpages. They can also add information about their values to the company pages on social sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Additionally, organizations can use employee testimonials as soundbites in job advertisements or compile them as a video to be housed on the company website or shown at job fairs. The Cheesecake Factory once put together a testimonial video asking employees to finish the sentence, “The Cheesecake Factory is a great place to _____________.” Employees talked about having “cheesecake in their veins,” said, “I have a family here,” and that “the company cares about me.”
Recruiters cannot assume that everyone knows about the company or that if the company builds a new career website, people will automatically visit. Recruiters need to make sure that the company message is reaching the places where candidates are. Similarly, if employees love working for the company, find a way to share that with candidates.
2. Educate candidates. At a recent TAtech conference, I had the opportunity to hear Lindsay Stanton from Digi-Me and Katie Roth of Aureon talk about engaging candidates and enhancing the experience through educational videos. Aureon is an Iowa-based company that provides business service solutions. It partnered with Digi-Me to create candidate videos that would not only help promote job openings, but demystify the hiring process as well.
It might be tempting to think that video is expensive and difficult to create. And that used to be true. However, candidates today want the truth and authenticity, not necessarily a high-cost or slick production. Don’t get me wrong; there are still times when high-quality production value is important. The point here is not to discount video.
Consider adding some video to the candidate experience. It could be about the company, the department, the job, the work environment, and the benefits of working there. Take it one step further and create a video about the recruiting process. It shouldn’t be a secret to candidates.
Want to really kick it up a notch? Consider filming a couple of videos about how to interview well and about the best ways to follow up after the interview. That’s information a candidate can use in any job search. The videos can reside on your careers web page and could be a way to keep job-seekers engaged with your company.
One last thing: Don’t assume that these suggestions about adding video to the candidate experience are only for executive positions. According to Roth, Aureon achieves a high response rate from skilled trade positions using video. The digital age is changing the experience, and video can create a competitive advantage.
3. Respond to candidates. I’ve always worked in industries in which candidates could be customers. It made me realize that I didn’t want to be responsible for losing a candidate and a customer at the same time. One of the ways we were able to improve the candidate experience at my previous employers was by closing the loop with every person who applied. Please note: I didn’t say that every person got the answer he or she wanted to hear or received a personal phone call, but everyone did receive some sort of acknowledgment.
47% of candidates were still waiting to hear back from employers more than two months after they applied, according to the 2016 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report. Plus, only 20% of candidates received an e-mail from a recruiter or hiring manager notifying them they were not being considered, and only 8% received a phone call from a recruiter or hiring manager notifying them they were not being considered.
The good news for employers is that today’s technology solutions allow companies to create standardized responses with personalization options, so candidates aren’t left wondering. While they may not receive the response that they were hoping for, they will remember the fact that the company provided closure in a respectful way.
(Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from my new book, The Recruiter’s Handbook: A Complete Guide for Sourcing, Selecting, and Engaging the Best Talent (SHRM, 2018) SHRM members can order a discounted copy at the SHRMStore. Enjoy!)
Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender (www.hrbartender.com), a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be contacted on Twitter at @HRBartender.
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