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How to create a great candidate experience

By Gemma Reucroft, Glassdoor

The case for creating a great candidate experience for your job applicants isn’t all that hard to make. We are hiring in an increasingly talent-driven market, and great talent will always have options of where they want to work. How you treat your job applicants may make the difference between whether they accept a job offer or decline it. How you treat job applicants also says a great deal about your organisational culture; it is a window into your company. And of course, candidates might just be customers too.

The experience of a candidate throughout the recruitment and selection process is the beginning of the employee’s entire journey with an organisation. Providing a great candidate experience can be a differentiator between you and another company. It has the power to engage, or disengage. Get it right, and even an unsuccessful candidate might be an advocate for your brand or other roles– or simply be happy to make another application in the future. Get it wrong, and you might disengage a future customer, find that your preferred candidate turns you down, or see your shortcomings displayed on Glassdoor for all to see. When people have a bad experience, they tell other people – in person, or increasingly, via social media.

Your candidate experience is also your company reputation. Despite this, many companies still get it so wrong when it comes to the candidate experience.

Unacknowledged applications. Overly automated processes. Complex application requirements. Poor communication. A lack of useful information or feedback. Long, slow hiring processes. A lack of basic human interaction. Ask around a little, and you will find that many people have a hiring horror story from the last time they were seeking a new role. Here are a few practical tips you can implement to ensure you’re providing a great candidate experience:

Review your current candidate experience

How do you do this? Walk a mile in the candidate’s shoes! Have you ever applied for a job at your own organisation, and put yourself through the same process as your job applicants? If not, do it! Ask yourself this important question when you have finished: how did the application process make me feel?

A truly great candidate experience rests on three things; simplicity, effective communication and creating a connection.

Giving candidates what they want and need isn’t all that difficult. A simple, straightforward application process, with all the relevant information provided about the job, the company, and the process is all you really need. No one wants to spend hours completing an online application that contains all the information on their CV. And in our social world in which people blog, tweet and create online, a CV isn’t all they want to be able to submit either; allow aspects of their social profile too.

Communicate frequently

When it comes to communication, ensure that there is plenty of it and make it as personal as possible. Always acknowledge applications. Avoid at all costs automated emails that tell people ‘if you haven’t heard anything in 14-days assume you have been unsuccessful’. If someone has taken the time to put together an application, then the least a company can do is send a communication explaining that the applicant hasn’t made the interview short list.

Offer feedback

Then, offer feedback to candidates and make it as meaningful and specific as possible. Sometimes, there is a better candidate for the post, but you can usually find much more useful feedback to give someone than that, if you try. Finally, never leave a candidate wondering what is happening. Keep them up to date, and often.

Next, make use of the opportunities that social media provides you. A good candidate experience is human, and so is the best social media. Get your hiring managers involved in the process too – it can’t just be about the recruitment team.

Social media matters

Ensure that your careers page is social. Social media gives you the opportunity to share plenty about your organisation, your people, your culture. Provide links to your corporate social feeds. Use blogs, photos and videos. Create targeted content that candidates will enjoy and will be useful to them throughout their journey with you. Use social media to showcase who you are and tell your story. Begin the connection that will also lead into induction for your successful hire. Make sure that there is an actual, real person that candidates can connect with socially, for questions or more information.

A social connection provides a personal and richer depth to your candidate experience, and create that important emotional connection with your organisation. Put all of these tips together, and you have the key to a truly great candidate experience.

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