If you’re like many employers, you’re probably finding it more challenging than ever to find the right candidates to fill your job openings. According to TalentLyft Recruiter Kristina Martic (Recruiting Hacks: Improve Candidate Experience in 10 Simple Steps), the current job market is becoming increasingly candidate-driven, which often can mean that you don’t choose the candidate, but rather the candidate chooses you. Improving candidate experience is a must if you want to win in the competition for talent, says Martic.
The candidate experience encompasses how applicants feel about your company after going through your hiring process. A good candidate experience will make applicants feel better about your company as a result of a positive experience throughout the recruiting process, says Talent Acquisition Manager Elizabeth Onishuk (How to improve candidate experience). On the other hand, a bad candidate experience could leave applicants with a negative opinion of your company, which they could share online as well as by word of mouth.
Crafting a good candidate experience involves a mindset shift that focuses on designing a candidate experience that is as painless as possible and respects the candidate’s time. Here’s how to improve candidate experience at each stage of the hiring process:
Make sure your hiring strategy is filling real needs
Identify skills gaps you need to fill and the type of candidates who would be best-suited to fill them. Conducting a formal skills gap analysis is the best way to identify the kinds of additional skills your team needs to grow. Once you identify the skills gaps, you can back-engineer job titles and responsibilities to fit those skills. This skills-first approach improves candidate experience by giving a clearer picture of what you are looking for to meet real business needs.
Write clear job descriptions
Use simple language and keep job descriptions as clear and jargon-free as possible. Make your job description easy to read by listing the most important information first, and use bullet points, active verbs and short sentences. List must-haves (not nice-to-haves) as requirements. Job descriptions with endless lists of requirements may discourage potentially qualified candidates who don’t think they meet every single requirement – especially women who are less likely to apply if they do not meet 100% of the requirements.
Make it easy for candidates to apply for your jobs
- Make your careers webpage easy to find. Candidates will appreciate not having to hunt through your sitemap and will recognize that you value your job application process enough to make it front-and-center.
- Give clear application instructions. To avoid candidates’ dropping out early, make sure to list everything they’ll need to complete an application before they start.
- Keep your application process short, which demonstrates that you respect your candidates’ time.
- Make your application process mobile-friendly to take advantage of the widespread use of smartphones by job seekers.
- Make answers ‘required’ only if they really are. This saves candidates’ time and can also help speed up the application review process for recruiters and hiring managers.
- Send a confirmation email when candidates submit their application. Acknowledging candidates’ applications is a good practice, even if you send a generic thank you email.
- Do a test run by submitting an application. Use your sample application to see what your process looks like from a candidate’s perspective.
- See more ideas from Elizabeth Onishuk for making it easier to apply for your jobs
Follow-up early and often
Send a rejection email or an invitation to interview as soon as you can.
Getting back to candidates promptly, with either good or bad news, will set you apart and demonstrate that you value your candidates’ time. Once your interview process is rolling, you’ll likely get thank you notes and follow-up emails from candidates. Acknowledging these notes and emails with a reply makes candidates feel more appreciated.
Give candidates information about what to expect at in-person interviews
- How many interviewers they will be meeting with and who they are
- How the interview(s) will be structured
- How long they can expect the interview(s) to last
Tell candidates if you’re no longer considering them as soon as possible
Sending a clear rejection message is much better than giving candidates the silent treatment. The best rejection messages end things on a positive note and offer to provide more specific feedback to candidates, who are often interested in learning from their interview experience.
Be willing to give (and receive) feedback
- Candidates appreciate specific information about their applications and, if they advance in the hiring process, are more likely to expect personalized feedback. This feedback can help candidates approach their job search in a more strategic way and help them determine whether they should pursue another job opportunity with you.
- It can also be useful to ask candidates to give you feedback. A candidate experience survey can help you structure your questions and keep yourself accountable for improving your candidates’ experience.
Keep track of candidates who you may be interested in for future openings
If you tell candidates that you will keep them in mind for future jobs, make sure you have the infrastructure to keep that promise (applicant tracking system software, a database of candidate information, etc.).
If you want to attract the best and brightest to work for your organization, take a close look at your current recruiting and hiring process to determine if you are providing a candidate experience that will allow you to remain competitive in today’s job market.
Four Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience
by Sharlyn Lauby, President of HR consulting firm ITM Group Inc.
6 Game-changing Ideas to Differentiate Your Candidate Experience
by Maya Humes, Lever Content Marketing Manager
The Social Recruiting Survival Guide from iCIMS
Enhance the Candidate Experience (see page 9)