Are You Failing at the Easiest Way to Improve the Candidate Experience?

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Jul 20, 2021
This article is part of a series called Strategy Safari.

Hello [FIRST NAME]! We value you as a customer…

I get some variation of this at least once a week. Let me tell you, nothing screams “value” like not testing your mail merge to make sure a name actually pops up in the body of the email. 

This complete failure of automated communication is laughable when it comes from an international brand trying to get you to buy a new pair of pants. It’s downright insulting when it comes from an organization where you recently applied for a job.

Timely and accurate communication during the recruiting process is a well-documented pain point for the majority of candidates. That this continues to be an issue when there are so many tools available to recruiters is a black mark on the industry. 

There is absolutely no reason that a candidate should be left in limbo when the majority of applicant tracking systems (ATS) allow recruiters to set up automated messages, or simply send a reply email from the system. And if your organization is too small to have an ATS, the hiring volume should be small enough that a more high-touch candidate experience is possible.

So let’s start with the premise that we all agree that timely communication is a key component of a successful recruiting process. It builds trust between the candidate and the recruiter that the process will be fair and professional. Fantastic. 

But we all know that quantity does not equal quality. 

The “Hello [FIRST NAME]” example is a classic case of focusing too much on quantity and not enough of the quality of the message. Regardless of how well-written the email might have been, no one is going to pay attention to it because of the “[FIRST NAME],” no matter how many times you send it. It’s time for recruiting teams to focus on what they are saying to their candidates, and the message it sends.

If you don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions:

Get an outside perspective on messaging. What one person thinks is clever and engaging, another person might find flip and dismissive. Trust me, I am a rock star at writing things for an audience of one: me. That doesn’t work when you’re trying to communicate with a wider audience, particularly candidates who are relying on status updates to decide their job future. 

It’s OK to stand out. It’s not okay to be rude. Ask a variety of people from inside and outside the organization to react to your messaging. Is it respectful? Is it helpful? Is it projecting the brand you want the organization to project? If not, work with marketing or communications to craft a message that does all of those things. And maybe refresh those tired messages on a regular basis, yeah? Y2K isn’t as relevant as it used to be.

For the love of all that is holy, test your links (and mail merge)! Was that too strong? Good. Nothing shouts “we don’t care” like sending an email with links to information about your organization that don’t work. Or merges that don’t populate fields properly. I know the life of a recruiter is a busy one, so build it into a regular auditing schedule and make sure someone on the team actually owns it.

Be a mystery shopper. Not enough recruiters or hiring managers apply for a position within their organization. If they did, these and other communication missteps would stand out. I worked with one company where a top executive decided to apply for an entry-level position. This person saved every email communication, tracked time between check-ins, and whether the recruiter proactively gave updates. It wasn’t pretty, and the feedback was, shall we say, harsh. Smart recruiting teams regularly field-test the process so they can proactively course correct.

These are just three suggestions on how to make sure the quality of the communication you send to candidates meets your (and your leadership’s) expectations. Once you’ve mastered these foundational components, you’ll be in a better position to experiment. 

Thank you for reading. You, [FIRST NAME] [LAST NAME], are a valued part of the ERE audience.

This article is part of a series called Strategy Safari.
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