Why Candidate Experience Matters from First Touch to Last
When they’re in the throes of filling an open position, managers don’t think about relationships. They think about “candidates” and “resumes,” “job requirements” and “cultural fit.” Given how jargon-filled and process-driven recruiting and hiring can be – not to mention how pressured – that’s not surprising.
At the same time, managers need to realize that building relationships is the foundation of the hiring process. As important as resumes, job requirements and all the rest are, making the right hire is about getting personal with the candidate.
That’s why the “candidate experience” is so important. Just like customers, candidates form an impression from the very first time they encounter your company. It doesn’t matter whether that’s through your website, a job posting, the receptionist at your office, the HR specialist or the hiring manager. Every interaction they have, be it in person, on the phone, or electronic, contributes to their overall feeling about whether or not they want to work with you.
Acknowledge your candidates.
From the very beginning, you have to be aware of how candidates might react to your actions – or inactions. How you respond to a resume, for example, can set the tone for your entire relationship.
We’ve yet to meet the candidate who doesn’t complain about “the black hole” at many companies, where resumes and job applications disappear. They submit their qualifications in answer to the employer’s stated needs and hear nothing in response. When that’s the common practice, even a simple acknowledgement can set your organization apart. Just by communicating something as simple as “We received your resume and are reviewing it,” you position yourself as the kind of organization people want to work for.
Show them respect.
It’s not only about first impressions. Stay in touch with candidates at each step of the process, even with quick updates to say you’re still interviewing others and haven’t made a decision yet. Keeping candidates in the loop can pay off if they’re also meeting with other companies: You don’t want them to think you’ve moved on and just haven’t bothered to tell them. Frankly, that’s a bit rude. Acknowledging that they are still a contender shows you respect their time.
Even delivering bad news demonstrates a respect and courtesy that candidates appreciate and remember. That can prove valuable down the road, when you’re recruiting to meet new challenges and have a reserve of goodwill among professionals who are qualified to provide a solution. Time and again, we hear candidates say they’d rather hear bad news than no news.
Don’t drop the ball.
Even after you make an offer that’s accepted, don’t let your attention waver. Stay in touch right up until the moment the candidate becomes a full-fledged employee. Before the start date, send background materials about the company and the job. Send emails around to introduce the team. Those moves reinforce your soon-to-be colleague’s decision and make them feel welcome even before they start work. This can reinforce their decision to accept your offer – not a small thing in a competitive employment market.
"Candidate experience" isn’t just a phrase. It describes the way you go about building relationships with the people you need to make your business prosper. From the time you sketch out a job description to the moment your new employee begins work, consider how candidates will respond to what you say and do.
Everyone is a potential candidate. Stories about your approach will get around, and may provide the first experience promising talent has with your company. You want it to be a good one.