Positive Candidate Experience Is a Competitive Advantage

May 22, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

CandE-Maze-ART5-copy-copy.v2There have been several recent articles on the importance and, in some cases the lack of attention on, the candidate experience. One article goes so far as to call out the Candidate Experience Award winners and question why they are silent on the topic.

As the chairman of Talent Board, the nonprofit organization that delivers the Candidate Experience Awards each year, there is plenty I can say about the power of a positive candidate experience, and the amazing value and efforts that many employers, including some of the most well-known employment brands, are implementing to gain a competitive advantage and treat candidates with the respect they deserve.

Employers care, and they should.

In just one year, the number of companies who participated in the awards and benchmarking program nearly doubled. In the program’s first year, Talent Board’s research uncovered how a negative experience can not only impact a company’s employment brand, but also its bottom line. The 2012 research discovered that more than half of candidates indicated a positive relationship with the employer prior to applying, and those that perceived an existing positive relationship with the company were 20 percent more likely to be hired.

The reality is that there are not enough positive stories told in our industry to neutralize the constant attention on the negative experiences. But as recruiting industry professionals, we owe it to ourselves to seek out the good and to continuously improve our craft and value to the business overall. Only when we seek to promote the positive will we drive positive change. This is the foundation for why Talent Board was established, and the premise for why the Candidate Experience Awards are produced by a 100 percent volunteer committee and board of directors.

The companies that earned a Candidate Experience Award in 2012 and 2011 deserve all the credit for the extra mile of intention and attention the put on creating a positive candidate experience. They care, and their competitors should too. All of the winners’ efforts were validated by the candidates directly. Anyone can read their success stories and the best practices these organizations deliver in the annual report published by the Talent Board. The following are guiding factors for those organizations:

  • They treat their candidates with respect. Every organization that has won the award recognizes this as the baseline for candidate experience and demonstrates it through the various communications, commitments, and responses they have with their candidates. Some organizations commit to sharing the expected process and timeline; others create online chat sessions so candidate can check in; and others set up call centers to respond to candidate requests or provide direct contact information for recruiters and hiring managers.
  • They follow through on their promises. Every organization that has won the award communicated what their process was and what to expect, and made every effort to create a consistent and committed follow-through with their candidates. Candidate survey data validated (even more strongly than the companies would suspect) that their willingness to communicate, be available, and follow through left a positive impression and was appreciated.
  • They implement practices that make the most sense for their organization and target talent audiences. For any organization that has solved for how to improve their candidate experience, that solution is unique to that organization and is part of their competitive advantage. There is no cookie-cutter approach because there are too many variables to master. The winning organizations know that understanding their candidates, candidate types, market experience, and business goals is the best way to determine what providing a positive experience means for their company.

Anyone who is seeking to improve recruiting performance, their company’s market perception, and to help move the needle to enhance candidate experience can read the 40+ page report which includes insight on the 2012 Candidate Experience Award winners and the overall employer and candidate survey findings. Look at the winning organizations’ career sites, mobile sites, and social media strategies; find ways to emulate the practices that make sense for your organization. Find them at conferences, ask them questions, seek them out and hope they will share their stories directly. There is no doubt that their candidates validated they were worthy of recognition, and because of that they are attracting and winning the battle for the best talent for their organizations.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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