Improving the Candidate Experience Must Be a Top Business Priority

The customer experience. The patient experience. The student experience. Large corporations, healthcare companies, educational institutions, and organizations in just about every industry have made it their top priority to deliver an exceptional experience for the people they serve.

In recent years, these initiatives have extended to job candidates. Given the current job market, the best talent is not sitting at home on the couch. They’re working for other companies, maybe even your competitors. If you want to attract top talent, don’t expect to post a job listing and have a line of people knocking at your door. You’ll probably have to go knocking on theirdoors and convince them to work for you.

With job seekers holding the upper hand, organizations need to treat candidates like customers and focus on optimizing the candidate experience. The candidate experience refers to a job seeker’s perceptions and attitudes about your organization that result from many interactions and touchpoints during the recruitment process.

A rewarding candidate experience benefits your brand reputation and the quality and efficiency of your hiring processes. Positive word-of-mouth about your organization through online reviews and social media can attract more referrals and better talent. This translates to jobs being filled faster, lower recruitment costs and higher employee retention rates.

Of course, a negative candidate experience has exactly the opposite effect. Not only will candidates turn down your job offers, but they won’t apply for any other positions with your company. They’ll probably encourage others not to apply and, depending on how bad the experience was, they might share their feedback with anyone who will listen.

Negative comments on social media and poor reviews have a tendency to spread faster and create a “piling on” effect that can be difficult to manage and defuse. Then you have a potential reputation problem to correct before you can expect the right candidates to apply for jobs with your company.

Organizations should approach the candidate experience as a potential competitive advantage. Continuously analyze and optimize every phase of the hiring process.

Do your job listings only explain what you need from the candidate and not what the candidate needs from your organization? In other words, are you offering little more than a laundry list of requirements, or are you providing clear job responsibilities and a narrative that captures your corporate culture? Is the process of filling out an online application fast and simple? How often do people abandon the application? Are you using analytics to verify the effectiveness of these processes? 

Are you using a career site? If so, how well does it convert? Are your recruiters doing as much listening as talking, or do they seem aloof and uninterested? How are you evaluating recruiter performance? Are you following up with all job candidates, not just those in the top tier? How long does it take to follow up? Are you using surveys to gather feedback about job listings, sourcing, screening, interviewing and onboarding? Do you have systems that make these processes repeatable and easy to follow?

Candidates are customers, too, especially if you’re in a highly competitive field. Focus on creating a competitive advantage by delivering a candidate experience that meets their expectations and positions your organization as a sought-after employer.

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