Why Candidate Experience Matters and 7 Ways to Improve It | CareerMetis.com

Every employee on your staff is in marketing.

Let me repeat that, because it’s critical. Marketing is the job of every single person at your company, especially when it comes to attracting, hiring, and retaining the talent you’ll need to grow sustainably and meet your company’s long-term objectives.

Think about how candidates interact with you. Sure, you’ve got all their data entered into your applicant tracking system and you’ve printed out every resume. Maybe you’ve even called some references. Does that make you ready for the interview? Don’t be too sure, especially if you expect to hire a Millennial.

“It’s getting increasingly important for companies to be able to recruit and retain talented, dedicated employees. However, many companies are not yet fully attuned to the realities of what it takes to do that,” writes Peter Economy for Inc.

Likely up until now, you’ve always been focused on what the company needs in a new hire. But viewing the hiring process through the eyes of your candidate is important if you want to attract the very best person for the job, especially as the job market heats up.

First, a word on Millennial job candidates

There’s a good chance that some of the candidates you consider for a role will be Millennials. It’s important to understand their expectations since they differ from those of other generations.

Already the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, Millennials aren’t keen to be interviewed for a good job so much as they’re determined to find the right fit for their skills, personality, lifestyle, and values. According to Inc. magazine’s recent roundup of hiring trends, with data provided by Glassdoor for Employers, Millennials are …

  • More likely to accept a lower salary than a boring job. 64 percent would rather make $40K a year doing work they love instead of $100K a year not being challenged.
  • Searching for the right fit. Career potential matters to Millennials. People and culture matter more, though: nearly 80 percent ranked it as their top priority in looking for a new job.
  • More skeptical than other candidates. 65 percent say they’re less likely to believe company workplace claims than they were in 2011.

The message? Treat your Millennial candidates like they’re in a sales pipeline; aim to learn everything you can about the best candidates before you get into the room to talk about a possible partnership…just like you would if you were walking into a sales meeting with a potential customer. 

The power of positive impressions … at every touchpoint

Candidates have only a handful of ways to interact with your business before taking an offer. To win the war for the best candidates, you’ll want to ensure a memorable experience at each of these seven “touchpoints” in the interview process.

The good news? While you spruce up each of these touchpoints to be more attractive to potential new hires, you will also build a workplace that your current employees will be proud to work in and brag about to their future coworkers. (The side effect of creating a positive work environment?

Employees who want to stay with your company longer, which will reduce the number of times you have to hire for a role!)

  • Every entry at every office. Your culture and values should be reflected in the design of your office. Nowhere is design more important than at the entrance to your business. Have a quirky culture? Hang eclectic paintings in your entryway. Give candidates a clear view of who you are and what you stand for up front, and you’ll attract people who want to be a part of your company ethos.
  • Each employee. Remember what I said at the start of this article? Your current employees are your best marketers, especially during the interview process. Take the time to make sure everyone has a say in and is clear on what your company is, does, and stands for. Invested employees can be a powerful magnet for talented job seekers, so put your brand cheerleaders in front of candidates you want to woo so they can tell them why it’s great to work for your brand.
  • Every web page. More people will come across your company online than will ever visit your office or even meet one of your employees in person. And yet many companies over-invest in a designer office and under-invest in their presence online. Don’t make that mistake. Instead, create a consistent set of brand elements (i.e., font, color, packaging and design) that reflect your culture and values and use them everywhere. Can’t afford a professional designer? Try using powerful alternatives like cloud-based web design platforms. They let you create a professional-looking website from a wide palette of colors, designs, fonts, and templates, many of which are free to use.
  • Each email you send. The vast majority of your business interactions with prospects, customers, and candidates will be over email. Make every one of them count. No, that doesn’t mean everyone should have the same email signature. Rather, it means there should be no surprises; a “customer first” brand should be known for responding promptly to every email. Pro tip: use an email marketing tool to design your signature and keep track of how quickly (and how often) candidates open your emails. A quick open with a later response could signal an enthusiastic but thoughtful candidate who’s studying up to give an on-point response.
  • Every social media account. Like your website, your social accounts will be a first or second stop for candidates researching whether your company is worth applying to. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter give you the opportunity to tell (some) of the story of who your brand is. LinkedIn is especially important for connecting with job candidates; browse each one’s profile to learn more about them, and make sure your company profile is filled out in case they’re doing the same reconnaissance work on you.
  • Each interview. The more authentic you can make the recruiting and interviewing process, the more likely it is you’ll attract high-quality candidates seeking a long-term opportunity. Avoid those filler interview questions and focus on questions that really give you a sense of whether a candidate would be a good fit. Invite the candidate to ask you questions, as well.
  • A personal touch. Top-notch candidates who value culture, fit, and a visible commitment to a purpose higher than just making money also want to know you’ll invest in them. You’ll make them feel like you have taken an interest in them if you not only pay attention details they’ve shared but even remember them in subsequent interviews. How can you keep them all straight? Use your contact management tool to keep notes from each interview to refer back to. If one candidate mentions that she’s got a show dog, make a note. That way, should you decide to hire her, you can casually ask how Biffy did in the last show. She’ll be impressed that an employer actually cares!

Don’t bounce this reality check

As you can see, recruiting the right talent for your open positions isn’t as easy as it used to be. Good salary, benefits, and vacation aren’t as big a draw anymore, especially for Millennials. At best, they’re table stakes — and maybe not even that.

Forming a unique and recognizable culture that’s attractive and appealing and that your current employees find easy to market can be key to finding the next great group of employees and can give that sought-after job applicant much to consider when you offer her a position at your company.

Written By
Derek Miller, MBA is a digital marketing expert working with small-to-medium-sized businesses and start-ups. His experience includes developing content marketing strategies for clients of CopyPress, working with local businesses in Tampa to grow their online presence, and planning the digital growth initiatives for Great.com, among others. He also writes frequently for publications like GoDaddy, TheBalance, and StartupCamp.

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