6 Simple Steps to Revitalizing Your Candidate Experience

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Sep 9, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

Younger jobseekers increasingly want to work for brands where they shop. In fact, over 75 percent of 16-24 year olds say they had applied for a job at a company where they were an existing customer.

And, we were told in our poll of 1,200 workers about their last job application process, nearly 1 in 4 job seekers severs ties with brands following a bad job application experience! This follows our work with Virgin Media, which showed that a poor candidate experience was costing its brand over $6 millioin in lost revenue every single year.

If your brand’s candidate experience isn’t top notch, you’re going to alienate existing customers, lose out on the war for talent and seriously jeopardize brand value. However, all hope is not lost!

Let’s explore why recruitment has strayed off course, analyze the negative cost impact of a poor candidate experience, and discover how you can turn your HR department into a lively profit center.

What’s Gone Wrong

Candidates who apply for roles at companies where they shop are becoming increasingly frustrated with outdated recruitment practices — to the point that they’re taking their business elsewhere.

Believe it or not, 86 percent of in-house recruiters believe they deliver an “exceptional candidate experience,” yet a whopping 37 percent of jobseekers believe they’re more likely to win the Lottery than receive detailed job feedback from their next interview. Clearly something’s gone horribly wrong.

For too long the candidate’s wants and needs have been ignored. This has led to a marked breakdown in understand and relevance, causing jobseekers to feel dismayed, upset, and let down by the brands they try so hard to work for. This breakdown means that just 1 in 5 candidates felt “informed” during their last job application process.

Our research uncovered that:

  • Nearly two thirds of candidates felt either nervous, uncomfortable, or frustrated during their last job application process
  • 18 percent of workers felt more valued by the receptionist than the interviewer
  • 1 in 4 jobseekers believe interviewers don’t care about their goals or aspirations

The Negative Cost Impact of a Bad Candidate Experience

How can this divide in perception be so big? And, more importantly, what does this mean for businesses? Well, first and foremost: it’s costing you money. And lots of it.

We’ve already seen that 1 in 4 jobseekers have given up on a brand simply due to a bad candidate experience. For companies with large numbers of staff (big retailers, telecom providers, etc.), the effects of poor candidate experience are felt with a considerable sting.

Here’s what candidates had to say about it. (Briefly: The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 1,200 workers aged 16+, and 250 in-house HR/recruitment professionals.)

  • 25 percent of jobseekers would immediately switch to another brand if they had a poor candidate experience with that company
  • 2 in 3 candidates are more likely to apply for a job at a brand where they’re an existing customer
  • 1 in 4 believe candidate experience more revealing about brand culture than customer experience

Turn Your Department into a Profit Center

Everyone that visits your careers website, talks to your team via Skype or comes into the office for a formal interview is experiencing your brand first hand. If you have a great candidate experience across all touch points, you can maximize every single brand interaction along the recruitment process.

Remember, recruitment offers jobseekers a window into the soul of your company. If the view isn’t pretty, you’re not just losing talent — you’re losing customers. The flip-side presents a very different image:

  • 29 percent of jobseekers would consider becoming a customer of a brand if they had a positive candidate experience
  • 15 percent of workers would immediately switch to another brand if they had a positive candidate experience when applying for a role at that company
  • Jobseekers would feel more positive about their next candidate experience if they received detailed job feedback (57 percent), had help finding another role (34 percent) and if the interviewer took an interest in their goals (28 percent)

Here are some simple steps you can take to revitalize your candidate experience and convert candidates into customers.

STEP 1: Research, understand, and love every persona of your audience

Empathize with and love your audience personas so you can design an authentic experience to suit them and build real brand loyalty because you care. With this insight, you can later design rewards and incentives that translate into new revenue generating opportunities.

STEP 2: Quantify and measure your current situation

Understand the current cost of your candidate experience so you can benchmark and set a goal you can measure.

STEP 3: Map your current candidate experience

Map each step in the experience in two ways.

First, consider:

  1. How do your candidates feel?
  2. What are your candidates thinking?
  3. How easy is it to progress?
  4. What is the current lasting memory?

Second, consider the environment:

  1. What are the current location and parameters of the event? (specific moments along the candidate experience journey, whether that’s a face to face interview, Skype interview, written exam, etc.)
  2. Who in your team is present and accountable?
  3. What technology is being used?

STEP 4: Storyboard a new experience

You can build a new process by making a new list, but you can’t create a new experience with rational logic alone. Storyboarding a “scene” is much more valuable.

By representing each step of your process as a scene in a story or film you can start to convert it to a more emotional, experience oriented event.

Draw out the scene of each candidate experience and be clear on its purpose. Using the information mapped earlier, design each scene to improve how the candidate is feeling, control what they’re thinking, make it easier to progress and make it a more memorable occasion.

You need to consider:

Adding efficiencies and convenience

  1. How can you make it easier for the candidate to progress?
  2. How can you fast-track candidates for new opportunities as they arise?
  3. How can you centralize and streamline meaningful communications so people feel in control, more organized and better informed?
  4. What steps can be cut out?

Sprinkle the magic

  1. How can you create a magical moment to remember?
  2. How can you make your candidate feel better prepared?
  3. How can you make your candidate feel more confident?
  4. What communication can be added to demonstrate you care?
  5. What unexpected value can you add at the most unexpected time?
  6. How can you ensure enthusiasm is maintained throughout the process?
  7. How can you reward and celebrate progress?

STEP 5: Measure your candidate experience in real time

More often than not, the moment of truth with customer service is not when something is delivered well, but when you’re dealing with something that’s gone wrong.

Embrace the problems but commit to reacting quickly, in real time. Correct mistakes and reduce the inevitable discomfort caused during any recruitment process.

STEP 6: Frame commercial offers well during a truly empathetic experience and win new business

The vast majority of your job applicants are unlikely to be customers. If you test and measure the introduction of commercial offers, rewards, and genuine brand benefits then acquiring new customers is a simple matter of testing what works best.

Virgin Media has designed a robust experience and plans to completely reverse a loss-making situation into a potential new revenue-generating opportunity — all by putting the people that matter, the candidates, first.

So far, the progress is on track and looking good. I think Virgin might just pull it off and who would bet against them? Not me.


This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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