What Makes For a Great Candidate Experience?

The reputation of your employer brand is critical to attracting the right candidates for your organization, but what many fail to understand is the impact the candidate experience has on that reputation.

You should already be aware of how a career site enhances your employer brand, but what really makes for a successful brand is how conducive your career site is to getting information in front of the candidate that he or she is looking for.

Namely, your jobs.

This is what the candidate experience is all about: how well the information is presented, and how easy it’s accessed and utilized.

It’s the crucial element in the recruitment process as it encompasses every step along the hiring path – from landing on your career site to hitting that submit button on the application, all the way to the final offer and onboarding.

You have to get it right or you will face some costly disappointment from which it could take a long time to recover.

The best approach to this is one that is candidate-centric, one that focuses on the needs and expectations of the candidate.

Finding a job is like a shopping experience. Your candidate is the consumer. The experience he or she has will determine whether they return and what they will tell their friends and colleagues.

Results from the most recent CandEs, the Candidate Experience Awards hosted by The Talent Board, found that of those job seekers who had a great candidate experience, “60% will go out of their way to encourage others to apply.”

So, What is Wrong with Your Candidate Experience Now?

Finding the best approach to a candidate-first solution means thinking like a job seeker and putting yourself in the hot seat of looking for a job – going through the search and apply process on your career site, identifying any obstacles, and correcting them.

  • One major problem is finding the link to your careers page from your corporate site. This should be prominently displayed on your main site, above the fold – the part of the page the first appears when your site loads.

    Think of a newspaper that is folded and all you see is the name of the paper and the day’s main headlines. Your career site link should be there, easily found among that info, above the fold.

    Keep in mind there are only three kinds of visitors coming to your corporate site: consumers, job seekers, and company employees. Your career site link should be as easily found by job seekers as the info is for consumers.

  • Another is your job description. Some of the issues here include having minimal details about the job, or the language in the details is unclear or uses “insider lingo” that only employees in your company are familiar with, or the requirements are idealistic, going far beyond what is core to the job.

    You want to clearly describe the position using common language that still brands your company while identifying the position’s top selling points, and list only those requirements that meet the needs of the job. Anything more should be considered bonus points.

  • And then there’s your application. In the age of mobile, the process of applying for a job is remnant of the antiquated use of paper applications.

    It doesn’t need to be a long and arduous process when your ATS disqualifies most of them anyway, regardless of the qualifications of the applicant.

    You know what I’m talking about.

The point is you need to go through your career site, search for a job, apply, sign up to the talent community, sign up for any offers, see where the snags are, and fix them.

If you get frustrated anywhere along the way, guess what? So will others.

3 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Candidate Experience

Once you’ve addressed the weak points of your career site, you can then take the steps to further improve the candidate experience and protect your employer brand.

  • One: optimize for mobile. It’s the era of smartphones. More people are using them for everyday tasks, including job hunting. The stats are out there to prove it. If you’re not optimizing for mobile, you are recruiting in the past. That’s all there is to it.

    Optimize your entire platform, starting with your corporate site. It makes little sense to have a mobile search and apply platform if your main site isn’t mobile.

    Someone on a phone isn’t going to spend time looking for your careers link if they have to pinch and zoom your corporate site.

  • Two: incorporate some creative content. The copy on your career site shouldn’t be that kind of boring institutional info you read in corporate governance frameworks. That kind of reading does not appeal to job seekers.

    It hurts your employer brand to be so generic. You want to be compelling. Be real. That’s what engages candidates.

    Throw up some visuals that tell a story. You might be able to get away with stock imagery, but selling the real deal is your best bet. Show me photos of your employees in the work environment.

    Toss in some video of a typical work day. A lot can be conveyed in a one-minute video. These can include interview snippets with employees. Let them tell their stories of why they chose you. This is powerful content.

    Add these elements throughout your career site to propel job seekers forward.

  • Three: Create a Seamless Experience. From the corporate site to your careers page, job search and application process; all of it should have a flow that is intuitive and easy to navigate.

    Make it easy to find the job search once a candidate hits your career site. Results of the search should read easily. And if possible, you should avoid paginating results. Nothing kills open requisitions faster than being buried several pages deep.

    Once the apply button is clicked, your application should be just as easy to complete and navigate. Some will argue that a long application is necessary, but the shorter you make it, guaranteed the more applications you will find being submitted.

    And if I’m not ready to apply, make it easy for me to sign up to your talent community to keep in touch. Have the sign up in your footer, your header, in a sidebar, anywhere that I can always see it.

    If I’m a passive candidate, I expect to be able to sign up for job alerts easily. Let me.

A positive candidate experience will create a lasting impression on candidates as much as a negative experience will. Either way, your employer brand is affected.

Taking a candidate-first approach to your recruiting strategy and employing the tweaks that create a positive experience for job seekers will put the best face on your employer brand.

It shows candidates that you are indeed the employer of choice for them.

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