Looking for the magic bullet that can improve your quality and quantity of candidates? Good news, we’ll let you in on a secret—a strong candidate experience can improve your recruiting results on both important dimensions. But improving candidate experience may be easier said than done. Afterall, how can you evaluate how job seekers feel about your recruiting process? Exit or onboarding surveys are one answer, but they are sensitive to response bias. So we’re sharing the honest feedback that your candidates want to share, but aren’t prepared to tell you directly.
“All I know about you is what the internet tells me.”
According to a recent Talent Board survey, candidates are more than 2x as likely to go to a career site than to visit prominent social and review sites to research information about a company. That means your organization has the benefit of managing your employment brand in an incredibly powerful way. It’s up to you whether job seekers can easily find your company and whether they find meaningful information once they get there.
Your career site plays a critical role in your recruiting process. Will there be enough information on your career site to answer the questions they have and to convince them to invest their time in completing your application process? Listing your job openings is important, but it’s not enough. Candidates are visiting and they are expecting more, so while they prefer your career site for information, in the absence or in addition to that information, they’ll seek that information elsewhere. And, hopefully, we all know that not everything we read on the internet is accurate.
“Your jobs are hard to find.”
At Recruiting.com, we like to say “You can’t hire someone who doesn’t know you’re hiring.” If someone doesn’t know who you are or that you have open jobs, they can’t consider you as a potential employer. Obvious, right?
But what about companies that are well known for certain types of jobs? For example, a major retailer also needs to hire people in various functions, not just retail sales and service positions. Often some of the hardest to fill positions are for roles not related to core, high-volume hiring needs. Your communication and marketing of these roles is the key to growing brand awareness and hiring visibility.
If you have key, hard-to-fill roles that your company is actively hiring for, don’t hide them under “Corporate.” Be loud and proud on your career site and in recruitment advertising that you’re hiring for these jobs so that these candidates see they matter to your organization. Competition is typically high for these types of candidates, so be direct in speaking to them and sharing your employee value proposition for their specific positions.
Remember that your creatively titled job of “Client Engagement Consultant” may not show up in a job search for “Account Manager” or “Client Manager.” So, remember job posting best practices and consider not just the internal positioning of your job titles, but how your prospective hires will be searching for them.
“Your online application is the worst.”
Okay, maybe it’s not the worst ever, but it’s certainly not a pleasant experience. The typical application is not considerate of the applicant. For example, candidates wonder, “If you are asking for a copy of my resume, why do I also need to separately fill out every work experience that I’ve ever had? Please ask me for the things that really matter because the longer you make your application, the less likely I am to complete it.”
Consider this: the seemingly harmless 20-minute application means a candidate can only complete 3 applications per hour. That amount of time doesn’t even include the time to find the job or research the company prior to applying. If you’re trying to recruit a candidate who is currently employed, you have to give them a compelling reason to invest 20+ minutes filling out your online application.
“If you don’t need it, please don’t ask for it.” Many companies use a person’s social security number (see image above) as the unique identifier for the candidate. Yet, we’ve been trained not to provide this information. The Social Security Administration says, “You should be careful about sharing your number, even when you’re asked for it.” Consider the cognitive dissonance of someone who wants to apply to your job, but sees they must provide one their most sensitive and protected pieces of personal information as one of the first questions in your application. Sure, companies need that precious nine-digit number to run your background check once you're hired, but not on the first page of an application.
“My time is valuable too.”
The length of online applications isn’t the only time consuming part of the average recruitment process for candidates. Finding available times to interview can also be tricky. Most candidates don’t tell their current employer that they are hunting for a new job (for obvious reasons), so scheduling interviews during normal business hours often puts them in a difficult position. They are forced to weigh whether they want the job enough to potentially have to lie to their current employer for time off. Offering to schedule interviews at a convenient location to their office, before or after work, and during lunch are easy ways to show candidates that you value them, their time and their integrity.
Logistical challenges exist within recruiting, especially between the recruiter and a currently employed candidate. This problem is significant because most employers report preferring to hire a person that is employed at the time of hire. Given that the typical recruiter or hiring manager recruits during their workday and the employed candidate is working for his current employer during this same workday, getting in touch is not always easy or quick. Understand that your perfect candidate is probably busy in meetings, on deadlines or on business calls. Recognizing this challenge and finding ways to overcome it, such as communicating via text message or reducing the back and forth of scheduling, can make the candidate experience better and your recruiting more efficient.
“Please, just shoot me straight.”
Honesty really is the best policy. Let candidates know upfront what to expect and you’ll save everyone time and discomfort along the process. Here are a few ways to set expectations:
Consider letting people know your process for reviewing applications. Set expectations appropriately and you’ll be less likely to receive questions regarding the status of applications. For example, consider an auto-response message upon application submission that states:
“Thank you for applying to ABC Company, we appreciate your interest.
Due to the high response that we receive to our job postings, unfortunately we cannot reach out to all candidates. We review all resumes within 3 business days and contact candidates who best meet the necessary qualifications within 5 business days. If you haven’t heard from us within this time period, you are not being considered for this position. We do keep resumes on file for review for a better fit with future openings.
Thank you again!”
Interviews are typically unnerving, high-stress experiences. Preparing your candidates for the interview sets everyone up for better success. Let candidates know in advance what attire is appropriate, where to park, how long they should expect to stay and whether lunch will be provided, if the interviewing will run most of the day. Consider providing the names and job titles of the people the candidate will be interviewing with, then you’ll have the benefit to see if they do their homework and come prepared.
Let candidates know how they stack up. If a candidate doesn’t have as many years of experience or a specific certification that you prefer, let them know. Give them an opportunity to overcome your objection during the interview. They are likely to share several other reasons why they are highly qualified for the position in other ways. Giving people insight into the skills they lack is useful for their career planning and development, but also gives you the opportunity to build a future pipeline. Just because they don’t have the exact match of experience you need now, doesn’t mean they won’t be a great match in a few years. So, let candidates know what it will take to get that job with you, give them a great experience in the recruitment process, and they may come back to you with the needed experience later down the road.
We’ve all been a candidate at some point in time, whether you joined the company by applying online, through referral, college recruiting or some other method. Think about the experience from your candidate's’ perspective, take a walk in their online shoes through your process and consider how you’d feel on the other end of the phone line. Chances are you’ll find a few opportunities to make the experience better for everyone.