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Do you own your candidate experience?

01 December 2021

By Stuart Duffey

Do you own your candidate experience?

I was speaking to a friend of mine recently who heads up talent acquisition for a leading multi-functional business named after a South American river. During our conversation he emphasised the importance of offering a compelling candidate experience for every piece of recruitment they undertake.

It’s now more important than ever for businesses to fully consider the candidate experience and failure to do so could have negative implications for brand image. According to a recent article on Glass Door 72% of candidates will share their own bad experiences online loud and proud.I know I have read cringe inducing stories on Twitter and LinkedIn about all manner of interview situations and I tend to scroll past.

Most job seekers read around six reviews before forming an opinion of a potential employer— and after reading bad comments 55% job seekers will avoid a company altogether. It’s not hard to see how anything less than a robust, engaging and tracked candidate experience process can lead to negative consequences.



To ensure that your organisation is providing a leading candidate experience it’s important to consider the candidate journey. This consists of a number of steps that candidates will go through, from the moment they become aware of a vacancy until the point at which they join an organisation. The candidate journey can be represented in a funnel—very similar to those used in sales and marketing—of the following seven steps: awareness, consideration, interest, application, selection, hire and on-boarding. This was echoed by an article I have read recently on SMART Recruiter.

Seemingly the main issue with the candidate journey in this type of market is that it tends to be unnecessarily long. According to a recent survey conducted by Randstad, on average it takes most companies 42 days to hire a new permanent member of staff. That is far too drawn out, especially considering that top talent are usually only on the job market for just 10 days (as per the REC’s data published in September 21). Working through each stage of the candidate journey with attention to detail can help to streamline the process and set your business on the fast track to acquiring top talent.

Awareness

This is the beginning of every active and passive candidates’ journey, the point at which he or she becomes aware of your job opening. This can happen in several ways, for example, through a posting on a job board such as LinkedIn or; Indeed, your companies social media channels; reading an article about your business; or through a referral.

To attract the right talent (and in the process save time for both your hiring team and the applicant) it is important to have a thorough understanding of your ideal candidate persona and to develop a strategic plan for talent attraction and engagement.

Consideration and Interest

These two phases share some overlap and can therefore be addressed at the same time. In the consideration/interest stages, candidates will move past the details of the job description that you have posted and try to get a better sense of the company as a whole. For instance, your values, mission, work culture, etc.

For the consideration stage, it’s important to employ the principles of brand. The best employer brands are consistent across all communication channels—social media, word of mouth, company pages and job descriptions. These brands find ways to take the internal narrative of satisfied employees and turn it into the external narrative that attracts candidates.

Candidates comb through company websites and social media pages to find out more about an employer, a positive and clearly defined employer brand is your company’s first impression.

Application

This is perhaps one of the most important, yet often overlooked, phases of the candidate journey. Lengthy, complicated job applications can seriously detract from your candidate experience - something training providers and FE institutes really need to address! According to Career Builder and Guardian jobs, 1 in 5 candidates won’t finish an application that takes 20 minutes or more to complete.

Here are some best practices/thoughts to keep in mind regarding your company’s job application process:

Always make sure that someone in your company has gone through the process of applying for a job you’ve posted. Otherwise, you might not notice details that can make or break the candidate experience.

 Is your application mobile friendly? According to a recent Glassdoor article 58% of today’s candidates use their phones to find job opportunities. However, due to formatting issues and unresponsive pages, mobile job seekers—on average—complete 53% fewer applications and take 80% longer to complete each application. Are you timely and consistent when communicating throughout the application process? 80% of job seekers say they would be discouraged to consider other relevant job openings at a company that failed to notify them of their application status. Yet they would be 3.5 times more likely to re-apply to a company if they were notified.

Selection

During the selection phase, candidates will compare potential employers by gathering more detailed information. This is particularly relevant during the interview process, the time when most candidates are first able to tell whether or not they can envision themselves working for your business. Therefore, it’s important to be as transparent as possible.

At this stage, you should try to convey to the candidate what it’s really like to work at your company, as clearly as possible. Let them know what kind of culture they can expect, how the workforce is structured, what challenges come with the position, what perks are offered to promote collaboration and success.

Additionally, you should encourage candidates to ask as many questions as possible and to raise any concerns they might have about the job that they are applying for as well as the business. Unresolved issues in the minds of talented candidates could negatively affect their willingness to accept a job offer, if extended.

Hiring

For every job offer, there are least two decisions to be made—one by the employer and one by the candidate. Everything leading up to the offer will influence the final decision for both parties. An oversight in the previous phases of the candidate journey could negatively affect a potential hire’s willingness to accept an offer and therefore, it’s important to treat the candidate journey funnel as a holistic, unified process.

Ease of application, consistent and punctual communication with recruiters and hiring managers, and transparent representation of company culture and values are all tell-tale signs of whether or not your company is organised, professional, and an attractive place to work.

Onboarding

Next comes the onboarding phase, and if overlooked, it can come with consequences. For example, 28% of new hires leave within 90 days. Hiring is a time-consuming, costly process. Ensuring that the onboarding is smooth and optimized is essential in maximizing your company’s hiring ROI. Some onboarding best practices include:

1.      Start onboarding before day one by sending new hires emails that will walk them through their first day, a welcome pack with a personal note or card, or even a phone call from the manager they’ll be working closely with.

2.     Make the process cross-departmental with collaborative onboarding. Pairing up your new hire with a seasoned employee to teach them the ropes is a tried-and-true method, but maybe it’s time to try a collaborative approach, which builds rapport with other teams much faster than one-on-one onboarding.

3.     Arrange one-on-one time with direct managers. According to a recent survey on LinkedIn, which polled 14,000 global professionals about preferred onboarding techniques, 96 percent responded that spending one-to-one time with their direct manager is the most important aspect of their onboarding experience

4.     Set expectations and goals early. Uncertainty about job expectations and performance goals is a new hire’s worst enemy, which is why steps like establishing a relationship between new employees and direct managers are crucial to a new employee’s success. According to LinkedIn’s survey, understanding performance goals was the second most important aspect of onboarding.

5.     Double-down on company culture, values, and principles. 81 percent of new hires fail due to lack of cultural fit, so proactively broadcast your company’s culture by sharing content on the company’s social media channels, include new hires in meetings or events, or feature the company history in the employee welcome pack. Be sure that your company’s Employee Value Proposition, mission statement, and guiding principles are all aligned.

To wrap up……

As easy as it seems, identifying the weakest spots in your candidate journey can be quite elusive. That’s where feedback comes into play. Reach out to your applicants at various points in the journey to ask them for actionable feedback, likewise with your external recruitment partners. Doing so will help you get closer to having a leading and successful talent acquisition process.

Coyne Recruitment are a specialist recruiter within the skills & employability sector. Over the last four years we have supported some of the UK’s leading providers on all aspects of recruitment. Please reach out to discuss how we can and will support as a trusted partner to your organisation.

 

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