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Secret Weapon in the War for Talent: Positive Candidate Experience

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By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

The way candidates experience the recruitment process is more important than a lot of people realize. In 2012 CareerBuilder released the results of its Applicant Experience study, based on input from 800,000 people who applied for positions in a one-year period ending April 30, 2012. The results present a compelling case: if the experience is negative, not only can your company lose good talent before you’ve captured a résumé, but your company’s reputation also may suffer. In this blog series I’d like to share some suggestions for ensuring the candidate experience is positive.

Positive is Powerful

Rather than dwelling on the downsides of a negative candidate experience, here are some very good reasons for making sure the experience is positive:

  • It sets the stage for a long-term relationship with potential employees.
  • The candidate who is hired could become a hiring manager with whom you work in the future.
  • If you are an agency recruiter, just about every candidate is also a potential client; at Decision Toolbox (DT) we consider it a win when an candidate who DIDN’T get hired still recommends us to HR because he or she was impressed with our process.
  • The recruiting and onboarding process helps shape and affirm your company’s culture. 

A quick example of that last point: a few years ago DT worked with a client that was moving its corporate headquarters to a different state. More than just a geographic change, the client wanted to revitalize their culture. DT helped them brand the recruitment process accordingly, and new talent came on board already enthusiastic about that culture. 

Follow through at every stage

There are five stages in the candidate experience and you can optimize each one: branded marketing, submitting the application, interaction with the recruiter, hiring manager/company interviews and the period from offer to onboarding. We’ll look at the first stage in here in Part One and then explore the rest in Parts Two and three.

However, before we get to the stages, there is an essential element that should be part of each: follow through. Without it candidates can feel like they’ve fallen into what I call the dark hole of wonder — not the “Alice” kind of wonder, but the head scratching kind. Put yourself in the shoes of the candidates. Between each stage they wait in limbo about decisions that will impact their lives and their families. When you practice good follow through habits, you alleviate some of that stress and demonstrate your company’s high level of professionalism.

Branded Marketing: Design what you want or . . . 

The first stage, branded marketing, allows you to design what you want. The alternative? Deal with what you get. By being intentional as you create the messaging around an opening, you can:

  • Help prospects decide whether this is a good fit or not. If your culture values an entrepreneurial spirit, prospects that are most comfortable in highly structured environments can opt out.
  • Set expectations for the things that are important to your company: excellence, high performance, open communication, etc.
  • Establish your company as an employer of choice. Don’t just make the claim — back it up. 

At DT we take that last idea a step further. In addition to presenting what makes a client an employer of choice, we present what makes each opening an opportunity of choice. Bonuses and benefits are great, but studies show that candidates value meaningfulness above compensation. They want to know how their contribution impacts the company, the community and the world.

Professional bite: to ensure strong follow through on branded marketing, get feedback from candidates, perhaps by including a short survey at the end of the application process.

Well, darn . . . I’m just getting warmed up but I’m already out of room! Keep an eye out for Parts Two and Three — more about the stages and more follow through tips.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to “Secret Weapon in the War for Talent: Positive Candidate Experience”

  1. February 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm, Humanizing the Candidate Experience | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] Part One I discussed the first of five stages in the candidate experience, branded marketing, and here in […]


  2. May 22, 2014 at 9:27 am, Optimize the Candidate Experience: Act Fast, but Act Deliberately | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] to optimize the candidate experience during each of the five phases of hiring: branded marketing in Part One of this series, and submitting the application and interaction with the recruiter in Part Two. Here […]


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