A Better Candidate Experience: A Laundry List

On this blog, we’ve spoken about a good deal about candidate experience and how your can improve the overall experience.  From going over the different stages of the process that affect it to why candidates drop off the apply process, we’ve covered a number of varying topics around the candidate experience.

But I wanted to go back to our posts and create a laundry list of sorts from all the tangible things you can do today that can help improve your candidate experience.

 

Here’s the stream of consciousness list (I know I probably will miss a bunch, please add in the comments):

 

  • Improve your job titles for search by adding location and less generic terms (should help be found in search)
  • Update the UI of your career site and application technology.  And if you have it, scrap the iFrame.
  • Trim your job applicationto only gather information required for an effective initial screen.
    • A Simple Test: Take the application yourself.  If it takes less than 5 minutes to complete, then you have some trimming to do.  Remember you can always collect more necessary information from candidates after the initial screen.
  • Interact and engage these Talent Network candidates with targeted messaging and jobs on a weekly or monthly basis (generic messaging is OK but content that is targeted is that much more effective.)
  • Measure your candidate experiencewith key recruitment metrics and through varying methods including:
    • Recruitment Funnel Metrics
    • Sources of Hire / Influence
    • Candidate Surveys
    • Contact Surveys
  • Build targeted messaging on your Career Site for different candidate populations.
  • Utilize mobile recruiting to capture candidate information easily on the go or at events such as Career Fairs or Networking Conferences.
  • Ensure that you have opt-in forms and landing pages that are mobile friendly.  If you have this you can make it as easy as having a candidate scan a QR code to launch your opt-in forms.
  • Your Career Website should be mobile friendly.  While creating an app can work, it can be unnecessary if your Career Site can be navigated well on mobile.
  • Close the loop on all communications with a candidate.  If they submit an application, at the very least, provide a final status email for their application.  These communications can be automated for rejected candidates but should be more personal as you get farther in the process (i.e. all interviewed clients should receive a phone call, etc.)
  • Institute features such as social recruiting profiles or IM chat on your Career Site to provide candidates with instant access to recruiters on your team.  If done, there should be adequate resources to support this.
  • Use different types of content including email, SMS, video, blogs, info-graphics to engage and communicate with candidates on why they should want to work for your organization.

 

This is just the first batch that I’ve come up with but there are a number of other great things that you can do to improve your candidate experience.  The key is to understand the value you want to provide and determine the resources you have to implement many of these projects.  Then measure it with recruitment metrics to determine how it affects the overall bottom line.

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Comment by Cora Mae Lengeman on May 11, 2012 at 8:49am

WWWHHHAAAAAAAAATTT???

I think this whole "candidate experience" idea and expression has gone way past its usefulness.

Bottom line:

RECRUITERS - corporate and 3rd party -

1. Make it way easier for a candidate to apply for a position because (God forbid) they don't want to work too hard for it.

2. Take them out for ice cream because they have to be bribed to interview.

3. Throw a drunken toga party every month for all the "wanna bees" that you're never going to hire but don't want them to say anything bad about their "candidate experience" - - "Hey, they never hired me but WOW they sure throw a great party every month!"

Can we just get back to basic common courtesy and respect?  Recruiters (yes all of you) treat the candidate like a person.  Show some courtesy and respect when sourcing, interviewing, not hiring and hiring.  Goes much farther than the candidate experience! 

Just another thought – do the companies with all this “candidate experience” crap keep it up for “employee experience” after they hire?  Or after you hire someone are they expected to actually work?

 

Comment by Cora Mae Lengeman on May 11, 2012 at 8:55am

I should clarify that I don't use an 'applicant tracking system' so my 'application process' is me calling you and discussing the opportunity and you saying I could be interested.  Then we move on to email me a resume, another in-depth interview, presentation to my client and my client interviewing and decision time.  Pretty easy.  Pretty simple.  Worked for the past 22 years, think it will until I quit.  My resumes are kept in a file folder marked RESUMES.

Comment by Gerry Crispin on May 11, 2012 at 11:15am

Your approach in representing candidates to clients is great Cora (although you missed describing how you actually treat the majority of the candidates your client either doesn't want to consider or considers and rejects). However, I'm sure you do it very well.

So, assuming a firm had 100 openings they are filling at any given time at all levels, in the US that would mean the candidate experience for approximately 3-5 positions is well taken care of by having the company partner with folks like yourself. So the other 95 positions that generate 100 candidate each? The almost but not quite, the wannabes and all those who had the skills to compete and targeted your client directly but when they researched how to get in failed to discover the job had been outsourced to you, etc? If 80% of 10,000 candidates are customers and some small percentage, say 3% resent their treatment enough to stop being customers...and decide to each tell their friends... 

The issue about candidate experience isn't about bringing joy and happiness vis-a-vis parties and ice cream. it's about exactly what you said "common courtesy and respect". But the problem is what that 'expression' actually means. How sure are you that courtesy and respect is common? Would that include something as specific as "Thanking" every person interested in a job? Because at least 15-30% of even the best firms in the country fail to do that...mostly because their technology is poorly configured. Perhaps respect might include ensuring 100% of the qualified candidates are informed when the position is closed? Because more than 70% of ALL firms fail to accomplish that. I'm sure you would be explaining to every finalist that didn't get the job for every position that they were considered a finalist for exactly what the winning profile for the job was so they could make choices about how to compete next time...out of common courtesy and respect (10% do that) and to prove it to yourself you would survey them to learn whether in their opinion you 'fully disclosed the information about why you didn't get the job that was useful to them in the future."

Common courtesy and respect includes "Telling me what I need to know to compete or what I need to know to make the best decision for myself short and long term regardless if the firm wants me or not."

The candidate experience is really about the attitudes and opinions I have about your client as a place to work. And specifically, attitudes about their job and about the people I met (including you) who find, assess, inform, guide and counsel me... as well as the subsequent behaviors I'll exhibit as a result of those opinions and attitudes. 

Now that "expression" is a candidate experience still worth a conversation or two and useful to both the firms who differentiate themselves by providing it...with or without your help. Some of it has to do with simple stuff like making the technology work. Even something as simple as your message when someone makes a phone call to you when you are on the line with someone else can drive value that impacts the candidate experience if you help set expectations about what will happen working with you rather than someone else...but I'm certainly not telling you anything new.

IMHO mapping sourcing and attraction of skilled prospects through a candidate experience that commits (publicly and upfront) how it will treat interested (and eventually qualified) candidates AND then delivers on its promise will re-make staffing as we know it. And, by the way I do have stories from around the world where that is already happening...and I'm seeking more in 2012. See http://www.thecandidateexperienceawards.org

Comment by Amber on May 11, 2012 at 11:16am

@Chris - I think there are some good points for companies to follow here, but usually the "process" gets so convoluted that the original focus is lost. Corporations have too many employees working in them that need to justify their exsistence, so the actual desired results are often not met.

@ Cora Mae - My "ATS" is obviously much more sophisticated then yours, lol - I use several file folders AND they're color coded! Blue for the ones I need to qualify, red for the ones that look great, green for the ones I am submitting. I also have a - wait for it - hanging file folder that contains folders with resumes for my clients that don't have an active search to match but that will want to see these people (and often hire them).

 

Comment by Chris Brablc on May 11, 2012 at 11:43am

First off, thanks for all the great replies!

@Cora I think you are right that first and foremost we just need to treat candidates like people and keep that in mind with all our interactions with candidates.  This post in general is focused more towards the corporate side and the ones that are interacting with high volumes of candidates.  In these cases, it's much harder to do all the necessary interactions needed with candidates and many times it's beneficial to set up a process to think through how you want all candidates treated.

This post was more for me to get a number of different process improvements that we've been thinking about down on a page, and for many organizations they may (and should) only identify a small few.  For instance, the two that really stand out to me above are the "Trimming the Application" and "Setting up Opt-in" suggestions.  While each organization needs to figure out what is reasonable to screen a candidate before they apply it can't be unreasonable to ask for so much information when they aren't yet being considered.  Also, many times it's about finding the right candidate at the right time and the opt-in piece (if done correctly) can be a great way to remain engaged with qualified candidates until that time presents itself.

However, the absolute top thing I think companies need to focus on is just "Closing the Loop".  Whenever a candidate takes an action with your company there should be an equal reaction on your side.  As Gerry points out, many companies are still not doing this.

@Gerry As always, a lot of great points.  I think this issue makes more sense as a focus for larger organizations as they map out how they will interact and present themselves to high volumes of candidates.

@Amber You are right, many times the process can become convoluted and the focus can be lost.  I say again this was meant as a stream of consciousness of ideas that I have come across.  Organizations need to determine and focus on a few things in the process first, and then move on from there.  And measure the impact of everything.

There are also some things that you can set up technology wise that can hopefully make it easier to carry out your focus whether it is getting back to denied candidates or getting more screening or background information from candidates that get an interview or certain stage in the process.

Comment by Russ Recruits on May 11, 2012 at 11:55am

@ Cora - well said, though I'm sure you can make it sound just as fancy and cutting edge as any ATS salesman...

Personally, I combine the the rapidly fluid internal two way process on a an e-bed with a PLM related spread, utalising Micro search Technology on a drag in drop frame all with a cross party platform support.  

Or in Plain English - Email folders, Word, XL, & the search function within Windows 7. 

.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 11, 2012 at 12:22pm

I have nothing to add other than to say thank you for making me feeling better about my file folders and sticky notes :)

Comment by Cora Mae Lengeman on May 11, 2012 at 4:20pm

Russ had me very confused for a bit but thank heavens he put it in english!  Still don't understand all that he said...

 

Chris and Gerry - written for those companies that leave people hanging for ever I totally agree - they need to have a process in place that works for everyone.  Unfortunately, just as loan decisions are now made by computer and banking has become people-less, many companies are allowing a computer to make their hiring choices before a person ever has a chance to look, talk or see a human being.  It doesn't matter if you need to hire 1, 100 or 1000 people you do need the common courtesy and respect.  I tell candidates "If you don't like them when you're interviewing, you will not like working for them."  It starts at the beginning whether you are applying on-line or through a third-party recruiter.

I am not a career counselor so I feel no need to counsel anyone on what they might do better in an interview to get the job - you are who you are and that should show in interviews. Plus I am not recruiting kids - once you have 10+ years of work experience you should know how to present yourself in the business world.  I only present one or two candidates for any particular position so when there are only two candidates it is pretty easy to tell one what tipped the scales. It usually comes down to personality and it is pretty hard to change that.  if you are not a right fit for a company you usually will not do well there if hired.

 

By the way, my RESUME file is actually on my computer - I have no hard copies.  If my computer blows I am dead in the water.  When was the last time I backed it up...

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