In a survey conducted by Talent Board North America, candidates said the top three reasons they withdrew from the recruiting process were their time was disrespected during interviews (37%), poor rapport with recruiters, and the process simply taking too long (29%). Recruiting can be an overwhelming debacle of processes and competing demands, but we should never lose sight of the candidate experience. Here are five ways to improve the candidate experience, backed by data.
Make the application easy!
If you want a quick win, start with the application. Studies show candidates were more likely to rate the application process highly, with 42.7% of all five-star ratings resulting from an application of 15 minutes or less. There are a number of constrictive factors within the application process that are driven by the applicant tracking system (ATS) you use. Some require a certain parameter of fields to be completed before an application or expression of interest is considered complete. Conversely, when the ATS is not making the process complicated, the HR processes usually jump in to botch a process that should be relatively simple.
Start first with redundancy. Apply to one of the open roles and determine which fields are absolutely necessary for a candidate to be considered. Do you really need their social security number, date of birth or emergency contact just to express interest in the role? I recently participated in a panel with a Global Talent Director who tackled her application process to streamline it for the candidates. Not only did her completion rate increase by 70% but her candidate survey scores increased 25%.
“When candidates get to company site to apply for a job and the technology is terrible, more than 50 percent of them will [abandon the process],” says Susan Vitale, CMO with iCIMS. “Companies may spend a fortune on recruiting efforts and then lose because a candidate’s resume doesn’t load right or they had to answer the same question 25 times because of a bug in the site.” Bottom line: a glitchy application process tells candidates you really don’t value employee’s time.
Treat your candidates like VIPs
For the life of me, I’ll never understand why some hiring managers treat candidates as though they are anything but special. We are currently in one of the hottest candidate driven markets with workforce participation rates plateauing so why would you not do anything to make a candidate feel as though they are a VIP?
The Candidate Experience Report discovered 95 percent of job seekers agree that how a prospective employer treats them as a candidate is a reflection of how they would treat them as an employee. (Dah!) The survey also found that 67 percent of employed American adults would decide whether or not to take a job based on the application, interview or offer process. If you have a screwed up hiring process, chance are you are losing the opportunity to compete for top talent in the market.
One of my obsessions is the candidate experience and it starts from the first moment they engage with my firm. I don’t care if it’s a cold-email, cold-call or a job posting, I want to be sure that candidate becomes enamored with my brand and keeps that throughout their first year with us. This obsession can sometimes lead to pretty intense internal debates and hand-to-hand combat but in my mind, it’s completely worth it.
Even those candidates who are not qualified for the role they applied for should be treated as VIPs. Take the time to better understand where the candidate COULD fit in your organization rather than sending a cold declination email or worse, ghosting them completely.
Who answers emails anyway?
I opened a new email account two years ago with the idea that it would become my main account with no junk in it. If I had a dollar for every time I hit UNSUBSCRIBE a day, I’d have a profitable side gig. It’s unreal the amount of emails sent by retailers and the like vying for users’ attention.
iCIMS’ survey found that when it comes to scheduling interviews, text messaging is preferred (57 percent) over the standard email arrangements. I’ve also found that candidates respond quicker to texts throughout the process as most emails get bogged down in the junk that is called email.
“Communicate with candidates the way they want to be communicated with,” says Vitale. “For many that’s text messaging. A lot of these employee candidates aren’t behind a desk a day — especially if they’re in construction or healthcare — so texting is a lot more effective.”
Give Updates-Automated if Possible
I love apps like GrubHub and others that give me updates on my food order. It is something relatively simple but a valuable feature on most any app out there.
Try to work with your ATS to automate the updates to candidates. Let them know when their resume has been reviewed or when a manager is reviewing their resume. The more automated updates keeps the work off the recruiter but doesn’t sacrifice anything in the candidate experience. Many ATS platforms as well as some recent startups have made this feature a priority in the candidate journey.
If you are unable to automate it, try to at least identify the 2-3 critical steps that would require a notification to the candidate and determine who and how the information will be delivered. This simple step will go a long way in making your candidates feel like VIPs.
You may not have the sexiest job or best salary out there but small changes in how you treat candidates can be a determining factor in how they view your brand. Take the time to ensure they feel like a VIP throughout the process and watch your talent brand and pool grow.
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