Most of us read several reviews before pulling the trigger on a purchase. As consumers, we prefer to learn about a company, product or service before we invest time and money in it.
Turns out this is pretty natural. We tend to interact with brands because they connect with us emotionally or they can provide a solution to a problem we need to solve.
Companies try to establish a relationship and a certain level of trust with you, often through a series of interactions, before asking if you want to buy something. This is known as the customer journey.
Recruiting is no different. Candidates rarely just show up to your website ‘ready to apply’. They like to learn about your company culture and opportunities before they’re ready to dive into the application process.
This decision-making cycle is known as the candidate journey.
What is the candidate journey?
The candidate journey is the set of experiences that job seekers and candidates go through during their job hunt.
There’s one very important thing to note here. The candidate journey starts long before the application. It starts the very first time a candidate ‘touches’ your brand.
At each stage of this journey, recruiters and hiring managers can do different things to impact candidate behavior, experience, and attitude.
In short, companies have the opportunity to influence candidates enough to turn them from passive strangers into enthusiastic applicants.
Getting the candidate journey right can also lead to more referrals, increased job applications, reduced time-to-hire, improved quality of hire, and a stronger employer brand.
Why does the candidate journey matter?
Nearly 60% of candidates have a negative candidate experience, and it often comes down to a lack of thought being applied to the candidate journey.
There is a web of different online and offline interactions between candidates and your company. Every time you interact with a candidate, you have an opportunity to build your relationship and increase the likelihood that they will feel connected to your brand.
But if you’re not careful, these interactions can also lead to disaster. If any of these critical interactions give candidates a negative experience, you’re at risk of doing some real damage to your employer brand – which may be very difficult to repair.
For many brands, candidates can also be customers, so a negative candidate experience also has the potential to impact the bottom line.
How to create a great candidate journey
A great candidate journey doesn’t just happen overnight. Making sure the candidate experience is optimal at every touchpoint requires a lot of planning and hard work.
We’ve broken down some of the most important areas to get started with:
Fill out your own application
There’s a severe disconnect over the application experience in particular – 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity.
And according to Appcast, companies can increase their application completion rate by up to 365% by simply decreasing the length or complexity of their job applications.
High dropoff rates lead to loss of top talent and damage to the employer brand from candidates who are frustrated with the process. Application abandonment can also increase an organization’s cost-per-hire.
Some employers believe that a lengthy application process is a positive thing because it “weeds out” applicants. They often believe that the ‘good talent’ should be dedicated enough to fill out the complex forms if they really want the job.
In reality, the opposite is true – the best candidates have plenty of opportunities. They aren’t as willing to jump through hoops and will happily go where the grass looks greener.
Taking your own application is the easiest way to walk a mile in your candidates’ shoes and see what needs to change. Apply with a fake name and details, and take an honest look at your process.
Does it make you more or less enthusiastic to work at your company?
Focus on relationships not resumes
This is something we say a lot at Beamery. ‘Online people’ are not simply candidates or consumers. They are both. And they look at purchasing decisions and applications in a very similar way.
This can create a problem for recruiting teams. Marketing departments have got extremely good at providing customized experiences for consumers. They pour money into the consumer journey, investing in relationships with the brand and making it as easy as possible for consumers to buy.
Today’s consumers expect high levels of personalization and so do today’s candidates. Yet nearly 75% of candidates don’t even receive responses from potential employers after filling out their applications.
Instead of feeling like a company cares about them and is invested in their future, they often feel like they’re throwing their resume and CV into a black hole.
Companies need to move from a transactional approach (e.g. filling a role) to a relationship-first approach (building value with candidates whether they apply or not).
If you want your competitive advantage to be your talent, you need to learn from marketing departments and focus on building relationships, not simply collecting resumes.
Map your ideal candidate journey
Sit down with your team and map out what you want your ideal candidate journey to look like. Storyboard the entire process from start to finish – what does best-in-class really look like?
Here are a few questions that you should start with when planning out your new and improved candidate journey:
- Who is your ideal candidate?
- What does your candidate persona look like? And what’s the best way to interact with those candidates online?
- What do you want candidates to feel when they first come across your brand’s online presence?
- How regularly can you reasonably expect your team to communicate with candidates? Is there a way that you can use automation to make a candidate’s experience more personalized?
- How can you make candidates feel welcome, valued and well informed at every stage of your process?
- What is the best way to nurture candidates that aren’t ready to apply and keep them warm for the future?
Learn from your mistakes
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein
No one has a perfect candidate journey. There’s always room for improvement and optimization. You can always do more to strengthen your brand, improve your process and delight candidates.
There’s another simple way to learn what’s currently broken and try and fix it.
Ask your candidates.
They’re the people that are actually going through your process and they’re the ones that you need to impress.
Some companies survey candidates at the end of the application process. This is a step in the right direction, but typically the survey data sits in an excel file, never to be opened again.
The majority of companies are in even worse shape. They have no idea what candidates think until the reviews start rolling in on Glassdoor (a very public way to find out).
Ideally, you should get feedback from candidates at every stage of the recruiting process. This way, you can see bottlenecks and issues immediately, and put fixes in place to improve the candidate experience before too much damage is done.
Measuring and monitoring the candidate experience is something that Beamery enables companies to do, but even if you don’t have a Recruitment Marketing platform, you should at least be collecting feedback in some shape or form.
The bottom line is, if you aren’t focused on building relationships with candidates and providing a high-quality candidate experience, you will lose top talent.
Today’s best candidates are typically only on the market for about 10 days, meaning you have a very short window of time to impress them and get them excited about the possibility of working for your company.
With thoughtful planning and the right tools and technology, employers can improve their candidate experience and as a result, can attract and hire high-quality talent.