Employers have had the upper hand over the past several years, and have been too overwhelmed with the sheer number of job seekers, to really take the candidate experience seriously.
But the tides have turned: hiring is up and good talent is getting more difficult to find and hire. We’re in a candidate driven market, and employers are beginning to realize that candidate experience is a key component to finding, and hiring, great talent.
If you want to win the war for talent, it’s time to shape up. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
- Make it easy to express interest. Whether the candidate is coming in through a direct hire agency, referral or job board, don’t make your candidates jump through hoops before they even speak with a recruiter.
A long application, writing sample or assessment is a lot to ask from a candidate before they know if they’ll make it to the phone screen round. Requiring these things upfront is usually done to surface the top candidates, but actually turns away top talent, who knows they can find a great role without all the extra work (which they may not have time for if they’re employed and/or pursuing other opportunities).
- Respond to candidates quickly. Once a candidate has applied, or has been submitted by a direct hire agency or as an internal referral, it’s best to review the candidate within 1-2 business days so you don’t keep them waiting. This is particularly true with candidates submitted through a direct hire agency or internal referral because multiple people are waiting to hear back about each candidate submitted.
With agency submissions, a quick response can let the recruiter know if they’re on the right track, or if they need to adjust. With internal referrals, your employee wants to be able to update their personal connection, as well as know that you’re treating them with respect.
- Communicate regularly. Along the same lines of responding quickly, you should be sure to do so at every stage of the recruitment process. During each stage, the candidate should know what the next step is and when it will happen. For instance, during the phone screen, you should inform your candidate that you’ll let them know within x days whether they’ll be moving on to the in-person interview.
When that date arrives, you should reach out to the candidate, even if just to let them know that you’re still making a decision. If you’re working with a direct hire agency, you also need to communicate with your recruiter at each milestone so they know what to expect, and when.
- Get to know your candidates. Throughout your recruitment process, treat your candidates as individuals and get to know what makes them tick. From a professional perspective, it’s critical that you understand their motivations for looking for a new job so you can position your company as the best fit.
A person looking for career growth should speak with someone who has worked their way up in the company, while someone motivated by money could speak with your top salesperson. From a personal perspective, find out what hobbies the candidate has – and try to match them with someone in the company they can really connect with over those personal interests. Revisit what you’ve learned about the candidate throughout their recruitment process so they know you care about them as a person and can meet their needs.
- Reject candidates with care. For every candidate who got the job, there are many others who did not – so make sure you treat them with the same respect as your top choice. People will talk about good experiences, but they will talk about bad ones more – and social media makes it easier than ever to spread the word about a bad experience. When you reject a candidate, whether directly or through your recruiter, try to provide some feedback that can help them in their next interview, or land a job at your company in the future. For instance, “we thought you had great experience, but needed someone who was well versed in X software and had more experience in our industry.” Candidates will appreciate the opportunity to improve and may become an advocate for your company.
The sad truth about candidate experience is that so few companies focus on it, and many candidates have almost come to expect that it will be a painful process to apply for a new job. This provides a tremendous opportunity to stand out by providing a great candidate experience, so that your candidates become advocates for your company, whether you hire them or not.