Attracting and retaining candidates is one of the hardest jobs faced by recruiters in the industry at the moment. Whilst reaching and engaging candidates in the first place is a significant struggle, keeping them interested throughout the recruitment process and ensuring they have a positive experience is essential to growing your workforce and remaining competitive.
In this article, we explain the importance of candidate experience in recruitment and then give actionable pieces of advice for improving the candidate experience, helping recruiters and agencies to refine their hiring process and enhance their reputation.
‘Candidate experience’ is a big recruitment buzzword. It refers to everything that happens to a candidate for a role throughout the recruitment process, from how they find out about an opportunity to the way they are communicated with by their potential employer.
The way that a candidate perceives and undergoes a company or agency’s recruitment process feeds into their overall experience, which can make or break their decision to accept a job offer in the end. Candidate experience is notoriously hard to measure because so many factors are involved, but recruiters overwhelmingly agree that having a good candidate experience has a significant positive impact on successful recruitment.
Improving candidate experience in recruitment is not only important so that potential employees have a good time throughout the recruitment process. Whilst this positive experience does contribute to hiring talented candidates and massively reducing drop-outs during the process, candidate experience also has a wider impact on the overall business.
If candidates for jobs have a negative experience in the recruitment process, they are likely to share this experience with others in your industry. This can create a bad reputation for your agency which can deter future applicants from wanting to work for you, creating big issues during future recruitment efforts.
Good candidate experience also means that applicants who aren’t offered the role are still left with a positive impression of working with you. Not only is this a good thing for your image overall, but it also means they’re more likely to reapply for other positions in the future and may keep in contact with you, which can make future recruitment efforts much easier.
Positive candidate experience goes hand in hand with an effective recruitment process, which in turn leads to more efficient recruiting overall. This will save your agency time and money in the long haul, leaving more resources to devote to improving your business offering and expanding your own team.
Improving candidate experience in the recruitment process has multiple benefits, and should be the continual focus of recruitment agencies. Here are some of the best ways to do just that.
A job description is often the first thing that an applicant will see at the start of the recruitment process. This sets the tone for the rest of their candidate experience and gives them an idea of what to expect from a company, so it’s important to hit the ground running and write job descriptions that are engaging and unique.
Instead of just listing the requirements and responsibilities of a position, think of a creative way to introduce the role and the experience of working for the business. You want potential applicants to remember the job advert amongst a sea of others, so now is the time to be quirky and memorable.
Also, remember to list the benefits and salary range for the role. Not only will this contribute to selling the employee experience as a whole, but it’s also been found that there’s a direct correlation between explicitly mentioning benefits and salary and the number of people applying for a role.
Once you’ve persuaded a candidate to actually apply for a role you’re advertising, the last thing you want is to deter them with a tricky application process. Long-winded and complicated application processes are a significant detriment to candidate experience, and you want to make this initial process as simple as possible to encourage everyone to apply.
One of the key pain points for candidates in an application process is being asked to share the same information multiple times, such as having to submit a CV and then separately list some of the information on there. It may make your life easier initially, but you’re also very likely to lose candidates in the early stages, so ensure that applying for a role is as straightforward as possible.
Whether you list it in your job advert or on the company’s career page, outlining your typical recruitment process is a great way to improve your candidate experience.
Nobody likes surprises, especially in an already stressful process like applying for a job. By letting applicants know the stages they’ll have to go through and what they’re required to do at each point, you’ll ensure that candidates feel prepared and also have higher quality interviews because of this.
Outlining the recruitment process is also beneficial because it lets candidates know how long it is likely to take before they get an answer, which improves their experience by providing transparency and an accurate time frame.
A key way to create a positive candidate experience is to showcase the culture of the company you are hiring for as much as possible at each stage, so that applicants have a clear idea of whether they’re likely to be a good fit and also start to feel more motivated to get the job.
This benefits you as well, as if a candidate realises that they’re not the right culture fit, they’re likely to drop out of the process and save you and themselves time in the future.
One of the best ways to demonstrate company culture to prospective employees is by sharing marketing content on social media. Whether it’s giving insight into projects or just illustrating what current employees get up to when they’re in the office together, painting a business as a desirable place to work will help to engage candidates a lot more.
A significant way that candidate experience can be tainted is by leaving them without anyone to contact if they have questions during the process. There’s nothing more frustrating than needing information or wanting to follow up on a conversation and having no contact information to do so.
As a recruiter, you should be available to your candidates at all times throughout the hiring process. But it can also be useful to give them the contact details of someone in the company they are hoping to work for, in case they have any specific questions that you don’t have the answers to.
Leading on from that last point, another effective method of improving the candidate experience is by ensuring you stay in regular contact with applicants through the process. Follow up after conversations or interviews, let them know when they can expect to hear a decision, and provide any information they may need for future stages well in advance.
You can also keep in contact and ensure candidates stay engaged by sending them content during the recruitment process. Whether this is more information about your agency or resources that will help them with interviews or future applications, it’s a great way to build a relationship with your candidates and let them know that they’re still on your mind.
Accessibility in recruitment can be a challenge, but it’s also an important part of candidate experience best practices.
Accessibility starts with communication; do candidates know who to contact and will they get a response in a reasonable amount of time? It also relates to the ease of understanding your application and recruitment process; are your systems accessible from a range of devices and are there any requirements of this process that may exclude applicants from certain backgrounds or in certain circumstances?
Next, consider accessibility for diverse candidates. Is your application and recruitment process suitable for those with certain disabilities, and are the workplaces you are advertising accessible environments?
Leading on from that point, if you want to widen your hiring pool, are you equipped to recruit remote or flexible candidates? Can you be sure that they won’t be at any disadvantage in comparison to other applicants who are geographically nearer or want to work regular hours?
One of the quickest ways to taint candidate experience is a particularly drawn-out recruitment process. There’s nothing worse than waiting weeks between stages to hear back from a recruiter or potential employer, and you’re quite likely to lose a lot of candidates during the process if you make them wait too long.
Before you start hiring, ensure that you have a clear recruitment process in place so that you can minimise disruption and delays. If candidates are going to be required to wait, communicate this with them as soon as possible and try to keep the waiting to a minimum wherever possible.
Finally, one of the best ways of improving the candidate experience is creating a feedback system which means that applicants can let you know what they did and didn’t like about your recruitment process. This is the best way of highlighting which aspects work well and which are hindering the experience, allowing you to continually refine the process until you’re consistently getting good reviews from satisfied candidates. It also encourages continuous improvement, which means that you’ll stay competitive because of your process and won’t get complacent when you think you’ve cracked creating a positive candidate experience.
Candidate experience can be the make or break factor when it comes to hiring new employees. But the wider impact can also have an effect on how your business is perceived as a whole, which is why it is so important to spend time refining your recruitment process and ensuring that applicants have as smooth and rewarding an experience as possible.
If you’re a recruitment agency looking to refine your candidate experience by improving your company image, marketing is one of the key things that can help. Get in touch with our partners Growth Recruits and find out more about the services they offer, from content creation to PR and email marketing.
Growth Recruits are the ‘go to’ marketing partner for recruitment companies. Their vast industry experience enables recruitment companies to become more visible, attracting & engaging with candidates and clients through various marketing channels. Whether it’s driving traffic to your website through Website Design, SEO and Content Marketing, or converting your traffic into leads through best practice Email Marketing and Paid Social Media, their campaigns are proven to increase lead generation.