Candidate Experience

Creating an Award-Winning Candidate Experience

Jan 13, 2022 - Tiffany Monhollon

The dynamics of the labor market have shifted significantly during the pandemic. People are reevaluating their career paths to explore new industries, seek raises or promotions, or improve their work/life balance. Some may also be seeking more flexible work arrangements from the gig economy, or narrowing their job search to roles that are staying remote rather than requiring an in-person component. All of these factors are contributing to the phenomenon that’s become known as the Great Resignation, and many employers are experiencing challenges in hiring new talent.

The labor market shortage means that candidates have more leverage, and creating a positive candidate experience is more important than ever. In a recent webinar titled Build a Winning Candidate Experience, we spoke with two talent acquisition professionals – Cathy Henesey, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at AdventHealth and Brian White, the Executive Director of HR & Operations at Auburn-Washburn USD 437 – about some of the current strategies they are using to facilitate a positive candidate experience.

Here are a few of the main takeaways we learned.

Streamline the Application Process

One of the first steps is to review the candidate journey and touchpoints, and see what needs to be improved. Cathy Henesey recommended applying to your own jobs and trying to figure out the pain points for the candidate.

Start by asking yourself: is the application too long? Do you need all this information at the outset, or would it make sense to ask for more later on? Brian White agreed that candidates may feel better about providing more information bit by bit as needed because it makes them feel like they’re progressing throughout the process.

“When I first started here, our application time was probably about 40 minutes,” said Cathy. “Now it’s down to two minutes.”

Communicate About Application Status

The pandemic has increased the importance of transparency, while also highlighting our obsession with instant gratification. For recruitment, the lesson here is that candidates expect quick, consistent updates on their application status to be the hallmark of their candidate experience. While recruitment may not be as conducive to by-the-minute updates as a food delivery order or an Amazon package, you may consider automating parts of your communication process to send targeted messages to candidates at periodic intervals in order to keep them apprised of their application and help avoid the dreaded candidate ghosting phenomenon. Another option to explore is configuring your application portal with the ability for candidates to check their status online, and consider using tools like a careers site chat where candidates can quickly get in touch with your team to answer any questions they may have as they progress through the process.

Add a Human Element Through Recruitment Events

Incorporating more events into your recruitment strategy is another way award-winning talent acquisition teams are building emotional connection across the candidate experience, even if candidates are still in their exploratory phase of the job search. Cathy shared that in her experience, hosting Q&As and workshops can yield high-quality candidates who are invested in their career growth, and may by extension become more interested in your company as a result of attending the event.

Virtual hiring events such as those hosted on Brazen’s platform can also broaden the applicant pool. When hiring events such as career fairs and info sessions take place online, candidates are no longer limited by location and can explore new opportunities outside of where they currently live. Organizations like AdventHealth are using virtual hiring events early in the candidate experience, even before the application, to help drive interest, provide a place for conversation and connection, and quickly screen and pre-qualify a large number of candidates at scale. It’s a win-win for candidates and employers.

Make It Easy for Candidates to Connect with Recruiters

You can also create a humanized candidate experience by providing different touchpoints, such as “office hours” with recruiters and initiating contact through a variety of channels like phone, email, and text. Cathy recommended that recruiters should be comfortable with sharing their contact information (such as work email, work phone, and cell phone) in their email signature and on LinkedIn to show that they are available to candidates for questions.

Brian’s recruiting team also uses a 24/7 chatbot in order to respond to candidate questions and get the conversation started at any time, and then collects candidate contact information so a recruiter can follow up afterward with more detailed responses.

When it comes to an award-winning candidate experience, “speed in the process is very important. The longer you wait to work with a candidate, the more likely you are to lose them to another organization or another opportunity,” said Brian.

And that’s never been more true than in today’s candidate-driven talent market.

Measure Results and Ask for Feedback

Measure, measure, measure! Capture candidate experience metrics that are in line with your recruitment sourcing goals (such as time to respond to candidates or offer acceptance rates) to constantly iterate and improve. Determine where the bottlenecks are in the recruitment process, and tweak accordingly to make it smoother. You can also use data collected through Brazen’s post-event surveys to understand candidate feedback on hiring events.

Both Cathy and Brian said that in their experience, “People are trainable!” and that metrics could be used to identify which individuals are excelling with candidate experience and which can use some additional guidance.

So what are you doing to audit and improve your candidate experience in light of today’s challenging hiring landscape? Now’s the time to make sure candidate experience is at the top of your list of priorities.

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