Corporate Eye

Three Keys to Creating a Great Candidate Experience


Black Hole1 300x300 Three Keys to Creating a Great Candidate Experience

A Closer Look at the Candidate Experience drew a comment from Gerry Crispin (one of the masterminds at CareerXroads) that has made me give a little more thought to this topic.  His point:

Firms will increasingly be able to measure the link from an improved candidate experience to higher engagement as employee and (surprise) better company performance.  Then we’ll see some light escaping the black hole.

This is really important.  If companies recognize a significant business (i.e., dollar) value in treating candidates decently, they will be more likely to make an effort in this direction.  So establishing the link between a great applicant/candidate experience and great employee performance can help put this topic on the corporate radar.

It might also be helpful to super-simplify the steps required for process improvement .  There can be a lot of touchpoints and moving parts involved in the candidate experience—but there are really only three rules for making the experience great.

  1. Communicate
  2. Communicate
  3. Communicate

Can’t get much simpler than that.  But as always, the challenge is in the details . . .

First, communicate on the corporate Careers site.  Really communicate.  Go beyond PR fluff and pretty pictures–include substantive information, and plenty of it.  Be transparent.  (This 2009 post on transparency is worth revisiting.)  And make social media communications meaningful, instead of just trolling for passive candidates.

Second, communicate with every single applicant.  Every  one.  Consistently and sincerely.  Impossible?  No!  Even if the communication is just an automated email, it can be nicely worded and can even be informative and helpful to the candidate.  Above all—try to close every candidate interaction with a communication:  an acknowledgement (“thanks for applying”), an update (“we’ll be scheduling interviews later this month”), a kindly rejection (“we really appreciate your application, but”), an interview invitation (“we look forward to meeting you”), a courtesy note (“thanks so much for your time to interview”), a sincere rejection (“although we really enjoyed meeting you”), or an offer (“we are so excited”).

And third . . . communicate during the interview itself, and during other personal interactions.  Whoever talks with the candidate should have something to say–they should be knowledgeable about the position and about the company and about the candidate.  (Reading the resume before meeting the candidate should be a minimum requirement.)

That may sound like a lot of “extra” work—but for many companies, it may be mainly a shift of priorities.  Once they start looking at the process from a human connection perspective, there may be a lot of obvious opportunities to tweak for improvement.

More ideas: Interesting background view from  Paul Dodd and Sarah Welstead at head2head.  A Gen Y take from blogger/strategist Sarah White.  A good example from Best Buy Canada Ltd.  And a thoughtful prediction from Claudia Faust at Improved Experience.

 Three Keys to Creating a Great Candidate Experience
Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at www.cynthiagiles.com, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.
 
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