In the war for talent, the candidate experience is playing more of a major role than ever before. It is not about the strength of your brand or a cool job description full of buzz words or amazing benefits. Attracting talent means treating candidates with respect, treating them as customers. They choose your company for an interview; they could easily choose your competitors.
Some companies/agencies are still stuck with the mindset that candidates are just merchandise or a number and they treat their candidates so. I don’t share this belief because I think that candidates are our customers and that we as recruiters are trying to gain access to the company, turning these customers (candidates) into the valuable assets that every great company has — into our employees.
You can still treat your candidates as merchandise, but people like to share and if you treat them badly they will share this with their friends and their network. You can have great company branding, but if you don’t respect your candidates it’s going to affect you, your company and your bottom line.
Treating candidates as potential customers can help you to strengthen your employer brand. If the candidates have a good experience, they will share information about your company and even if they didn’t succeed the first time, they can try again after some time has passed. You want them leaving satisfied and happy, because every candidate is also helping you to share information about your brand, so sharing good feedback about your company is not only going to get more attention, but will help you to expand your network and secure more candidates. Word of mouth is priceless, it’s the best form advertising, because people trust other people more than some advertisement.
Every candidate counts and should be treated as a customer, i.e. with respect.
Treat the candidate like a person, not a number
Candidates submit their resume through your system and for some of them this feels like dropping the resume into an abyss. There is no confirmation of the submission, no feedback that a recruiter has processed the resume or that the position has been filled. There is a lack of communication at some point during the recruitment process.
It is a basic requisite for every company to give feedback when candidates apply for a position or when they create a registration for the ATS (Applicant Tracking System). An automated confirmation message that your company sends to candidates after you have received their application is easy to set up.
Technology is your ally here, if you are using an ATS that is not able to provide basic functions such as automatic responses when candidates submit resumes, you need to start thinking about replacing your current ATS with a new one. I know that implementing a new ATS can be a time consuming and sometimes painful process, but the benefits that a new ATS could bring are priceless; you are not going to win the war to capture new talent with old tactics, procedures and systems.
The future will be all about personalizing the recruitment experience. It will not be about “Hello Mr. Candidate”, it will be about “Hello Joe”. Recruitment systems can personalize the recruitment experience through communications with candidates and they will help you to improve the candidate experience. You need to understand that each candidate has their own personality and prefers different types of communication, but all of them have something in common: they would like to be informed about their application status.
Lack of a personal touch can be common especially when you are getting hundreds of resumes as a result of your posting. But always communicate and even if you don’t decide to move forward with them, you need to give them some feedback: the position was filled, they didn’t succeed etc. I know that sometimes it’s not easy and we are overloaded, but don’t try to find the time for it — just do it. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
Technology is here to help you to save time with the process, and you can easily inform every candidate when he is rejected. To give good candidate experience you need to stop hiding behind your recruitment systems, because candidates always need to have the option to reach your recruiters via email, phone, LinkedIn etc.
Try your process as a Candidate
Candidate experience it’s not only about personalized messages, it is also about their experience during the registration process and interview. Perhaps your registration process still takes twenty minutes and your interview process hasn’t changed for a few years. Perhaps you still have eight rounds just to hire office admin staff. Maybe it’s time to put yourself into the candidate’s shoes and analyze his/her journey through the whole of your recruitment process.
Part of this experience is the registration process. While it’s important to gain information from candidates, there is no reason for a 10-page submission registration process. If you are going to be annoyed during the registration process, your candidates have already left the career site ten seconds before you. The more steps they must go through to submit their resume; the more likely candidates are not going to finish the registration process. If you want to improve the candidate experience in your recruitment process, you will need to reduce any unnecessary friction and remove any unnecessary steps. You will save your own time and also you need to value your candidates’ time too.
Candidates understand that for one opening you have multiple candidates and they accept that they’re not going to get the job every time. But let them know that you’ve selected someone else, and thank them for their time and interest. Offering closure to a candidate means that they are more likely to consider applying again when you have a similar opening in the near future or at a time when they are changing their job.
It’s all about the feedback; regardless of whether you are an agency recruiter or a company recruiter, you need to start giving feedback to candidates because it is more important than you may think. Also try to ask them for a feedback, the companies with the best candidate experiences actively ask for candidate feedback. They also analyze candidates’ answers and suggestions during and after the interview process, and learn from the information.
Did you ask you candidate how he liked the interview or if he would like to change something? If not, start with that. It will help you to improve the interview process, and implementing candidate suggestions will also show them that you really listen. Feedback also helps you to learn how candidates are responding to any new elements that you have implemented in your recruitment process.
Manage the relationship
Sometimes the timing just isn’t right; you find the perfect candidate but you don’t have the right position for them. But do you keep in touch with these candidates even if you don’t have the right job for them?
Setting up a system that allows you to stay in touch with them is easy, even if you don’t use an ATS. You can simply use your Outlook calendar and set up some recurrent reminders. Every six months the name of the candidate will pop-up as a reminder; you can contact them and ask them if they are still happy or thinking about a new career opportunity. You never know, maybe you will hit the right time when the candidate is ready for an opportunity with your company.
Network with your competitors
Try to network with you competitors and friends from agencies, people like to share and you can get information from other recruiters about the reasons why your people are going for interviews with other companies, and the motives they are giving to other recruiters for this. This information could help you to address the reason that people are leaving your company; this could also be why your candidates prefer your competitors.
Good candidate experience during the recruitment process is vital in today’s competitive recruitment market. Candidates on the market has no desire to work in a disrespectful organization with managers who simply don’t care.
You should always treat your candidates like customers because your candidates are customers!
“Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.” Because you never know when you will be on the other side of the table.
Originally published at LinkedIn