Long held up as a critical talent strategy, candidate
experience still ranks low for all but the savviest consumer brands. If you
really want to improve your candidate experience, here are six (relatively)
easy ways to go about it:
1. Attract fewer applicants in the first place.
In my previous post (2 April, 2014) I explain in detail why
attracting fewer applicants is a good thing. When you attract the right people,
application volume should decrease in importance and lead to a better overall
2. Companies should be measuring candidate experience for
all applicants ... not just those who successfully applied.
Currently most companies only poll successful job applicants
to find out their experience of the hiring process, but that’s akin to asking
big tippers to rate their restaurant experience. (And for companies that use
recruitment process outsourcing partners, policy can sometimes make the
practice actually worse. Contracts can contain punitive language for poor
applicant experience, creating a misalignment with the group responsible for
actually reporting on the experience).
None of it should be acceptable. New technologies make
surveying candidate experience much easier. A solution called Mystery Applicant,
for example, uses questions chosen at random to poll candidates during
different moments in the application process (and offers a remarkably complete
picture of candidate experience from initial query to close).
3. Ensure the hiring manager interacts with applicants— and
in particular with candidates on the short list.
There’s a direct relationship between how candidates feel
about the hiring process and how closely the hiring manager participated in
that process. When candidates are relegated to speak mostly to a recruiter,
candidates feel they did not merit attention. Make the on-site visit extra
special. Are your candidates at the center of the process, and if so, how
exactly do you enchant them when they visit your location? One company we worked
with gave potential employees an iPad upon arrival. The iPad contained a
detailed schedule of their visit, profiles of the executives they would meet,
and information about working for the company. Visitors were also told to use
the iPad for personal and professional reasons (e.g. checking emails, social
networking, etc.) in a nod to each visitor’s generous investment of time
visiting the company’s offices. The company also paired candidates with a
“buddy” who ensured they were escorted to each meeting and had company for
lunch. The motivation was two-fold: (a) make it more likely a finalist will
select the position and (b) leave a positive impression on those who were not
selected with the belief that they may become candidates again in the near
future. Remember, your focus s not to woo a single candidate for a specific
job, but to provide a positive experience for many candidates.
4. If you’re trying to leave a good impression, involve
It stands to reason that the true satisfaction experts at
your company are likely to be sitting in customer service. Why not involve them
in redesigning your candidate experience process? At GE they did just that. The
hiring process was designed by customer service to ensure all applicants felt
satisfied by the application process, even if not selected. Given GE’s hunger
for top-flight talent, the strategy makes perfect sense. They even tie hiring
manager KPIs and bonuses to candidate experience in order to ensure it’s more
than lip service.
5. Consider providing extra value through educational
All job applicants—but in particular students—are hungry for
information about their careers and the job market. And while career fairs are
not on the verge of disappearing, they are often too generic to provide
meaningful value to applicants. We’ve seen companies have remarkable success
with new mediums such as webinars (with narrow and highly targeted topics) and
even Twitter chats. These are channels that younger workers already use, offer
a high-level of engagement, and are remarkably inexpensive for employers adept
at using social. A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group showed employers
that use social networking for HR capably have revenue growth 1.5 times higher
than those employers that define themselves as least capable.
6. Banish the concept of one-time relationships.
When an applicant applies for a particular job, consider
that individual a potential member of your talent network—someone you can query
about future jobs that may open at your organisation. (And if it wasn’t clear
before, this is why candidate experience matters so much! Rejected candidates
may fit a future role perfectly, and they have friends and colleagues you want
to impress. Each relationship matters.) Rather than treating a rejection as the
end of the road, a rejection should be the beginning of a new path in your
relationship with that professional.
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