2013 Candidate Experience Awards (@TheCandes) Recap

This year I had the absolute privilege to help The Candidate Experience Awards as a member of the CandE Council. It’s been 3 years now and as someone who has followed this program since inception, it’s absolutely tremendous to see how much it’s grown in such a short time (credit is due to founders @GerryCrispin, @ElaineOrler, @newmaed).

Also want to give a shoutout to Denni Oravec (@DenniOravec) and Mary Beth Shields for helping to manage the day-to-day for the program as well as the fellow CandE Council members and judges (see Twitter list.)  Not to mention the companies who applied!

Now onto the awards and sharing some of the key insights from participating companies.

Companies are focusing on Candidate Experience

The Candidate Experience Awards has seen tremendous growth over the years and this year was no different.  This marked the largest group of companies focused on the candidate experience to date and some interesting numbers overall.  Here’s a rundown of the overall breakout:

  • 138 registered companies
  • 122 employer survey
  • 95 candidate survey
  • 64 Overall Winners
  • 13 Winners with Distinction

Through these participating companies, the CandEs captured over 46,000 candidate responses (with Pepsi leading the charge at over 6,000 replies!)  From this candidate data, the CandE judges were able to select the 64 overall winners as well as identify those with distinction.

The Winners

In the list of winners, you’ll see common brands you know well and ones that are a little less mainstream.  You’ll also see large organizations (25+ Fortune 1000) side by side with smaller ones.  However, the one major attribute they all have in common is that they are dedicated to improving the candidate experience and engaging better with their candidates.

You can find the full list of all the 2013 winners here (shout-out to partners CDW and McGraw-Hill)  And while all the winners are equal in terms of providing a great candidate experience below are the winners with distinction (who the judges thought had best overall stories to tell):

  • Humana
  • Enterprise
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Informatica
  • Intuit
  • General Dynamics
  • Intel
  • Adidas
  • Wall Street Services
  • Genentech
  • Chesapeake
  • RMS
  • Under Armour

All the companies above demonstrated excellence in their candidate experience and were marked highly by the candidates that were applying to their organizations not only by the application process but a variety of other factors that affect the overall candidate experience.

Insights from the CandE Awards

Through conversations with the winning companies and attending the conference session, there were a number of key themes and insights that I would like to share that have enabled these companies to excel in creating a candidate experience that’s a step above.  The key here is to understand that every company is different and faced unique challenges in their recruiting environment so while the below are great takeaways it’s really important to determine and incorporate what works for your unique situation.

*Please also note that these are broad strokes on these company stories and not meant to be a full re-telling

Candidates are Customers: While this was evident last year as well, a big trend seen over the candidate surveys is candidate’s feeling connected to brands before applying.  Over 50% of candidates feel they have a relationship with the company before the recruiting process.  And in most instances, this is them engaging with this brand as consumers.  The big takeaway here is that recruiting is not seen as a separate piece of the brand in the minds of the candidate so it’s important to understand all interactions whether with marketing, sales, social, product or recruiting affects consumers opinions (and potentially buying patterns) of the company itself.

  • Adidas has created a comprehensive candidate experience training for all recruiters called “Elevate” that includes exercises and even being confronted by live candidates in a webinar.
  • Wall Street Services help candidates prepare for the interview and is something that will benefit the candidate even if unsuccessful.

Be Transparent: By setting expectations up front with candidates, organizations can greatly reduce the uncertainty that comes with looking for the next opportunity.  Many of the winners leverage their process to ensure that candidates understand what they are getting into when applying so they are rarely surprised by the overall process and time horizon.

  • Humana makes offers on the spot with candidates enabling quality candidates to leave with offer in hand from the interview.  The key here is they worked to get top down support (leadership, hiring managers, etc.) for this initiative across the organization leading to great hires.
  • Lockheed Martin has developed Virtual Track on their careers website where candidates and prospects can learn more about our company, programs, or job types.  These are usually timed sessions with the opportunity to speak live with a recruiter. They also target specific groups with custom tracks such as military/veteran, university, and professional team.
  • General Dynamics created their own Virtual Recruiting Center in an initiative to help candidates meet and engage recruiters, hiring managers, etc.
  • Intel focuses on answering every question that comes their way, regardless of channel, including creation of their LinkedIn Student Lounge.  Members of team always monitor and provide feedback/answers to students which has broadened the applicant pool for college graduates.

Be Targeted: While the overall candidate experience needs to be understood first, the second step is ensuring customized experiences and engagement with the different targeted candidate populations organizations are looking to recruit.  This can be military/veteran, campus, engineers, diversity or other important recruiting pools.  And the key here is having content, messaging and processes that resonate with the specific groups you are trying to attract.

  • While this can go into the transparency bucket as well, RMS strives to answer all questions truthfully with candidates before the phone screen. This gives them the opportunity to screen out candidates such as “if you don’t like ambiguity, if you need things to be clearly explained (i.e. “do this”), you should run from our building “
  • Leveraging their Career Site and ATS application process, CDW provides targeted content and application flow for the different candidate types they recruit.
  • Intel segments candidate communications to provide personalized and custom messaging to different candidate types.
  • McGraw Hill’s “Be Essential” campaign aims to attract candidates that are passionate about financial markets  while providing interactive video content in the header to engage candidates on their Career Site.  They have also worked to streamline their application process to ensure better candidate response.

Don’t Forget About Internals: While a lot of the focus of candidate experience programs is external candidates, internal candidates are an integral part of any candidate experience initiative.  It’s important to look at this process as potentially unique to how you work with external candidates and ensure that internal candidates are progressing in the organization.

  • At PepsiCo, every internal candidate that applies for a position will receive a direct email or phone call from recruiter within 2 weeks.  This ensures that no internal candidate gets lost in the recruiting process.
  • Genentech has created “G-Staf” which is designed to handle mobility of Internal Candidates.  This internal focused program has led to a 22% increase in career opportunities for employees.
  • Intuit is committed to providing feedback to all candidates both external and internal. This includes getting managers in the feedback process for all internal candidates.

Develop Relationships Early: It’s obvious that organizations competing for top talent need to get on them early and create meaningful relationships with each in order to recruit them later.  But how do you do this and bake it into your process?  It’s really a combination of identifying talent, timely communication and content to keep candidates warm and engaged with your organization.

  • Lockheed Martin offers a unique idea that fits with their manufacturing hiring efforts.  They have designed a program to pre-hire technicians months in advance of a job opening and then includes giving each a personal website with customized content to engage them, provide information and involve them in pre-onboarding activities.
  • Deloitte has developed “GreenRoom” as a way to interact and answer candidate questions via social media.  Candidates are invited to participate via the Career Site and can see live questions and answers from a team of recruiters whose pictures, profiles and contact information is transparently connected to each question.  This helps them get in with college candidates early to help fill over 50,000 hires annually.

Continued Evaluation: Candidate Experience is not a one time project but is a continually evolving process to consistently improve the overall experience and engagement with candidates.  So organizations need to begin putting mechanisms in place to capture candidate feedback so they can analyze and continually improve their process and strategy.

  • Informatica surveys their candidates at three different stages –at the application, at the interview stage and at the final disposition. This has led to over 1800 responses in the last 6 months that they use to improve their process.
  • Under Armor consistently checks Glassdoor and other social media sites to uncover and deal with perceptions surrounding the recruiting process so they can improve in key areas.

There’s a lot of great learnings and ideas here to help organizations improve their candidate experience.  As an organizations, it’s important to first think about your strategy and determine the key touch-points you have with candidates.  And then use ideas like this to begin implementing meaningful initiatives towards improving the overall experience.

What’s Next?

The Candidate Experience Awards committee is hard at work analyzing the data captured through the candidate surveys.  From this painstaking process, they will create a report white paper with lots of great insights on what candidates are looking for from employers, new methods to better interact with candidates and general best practices that you can test and utilize in your own strategy.

To receive a free copy of this white paper when it’s published, register for a copy at the link below:

Register for 2013 Candidate Experience Awards Results


Originally posted on the SmashFly Recruitment Marketing Blog.


Views: 226

Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 17, 2013 at 7:28pm

Thanks for the exposure to this unique award and awardees.

I've registered for the full study and hope to see the downsides as well as the upsides to the candidate experience.


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