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What is the ‘candidate experience’ and how do you improve it?

Published by Marketing on

Your candidate experience matters when you are recruiting. A great candidate experience encourages talented people to apply for your jobs. So, what does ‘candidate experience’ mean and how can you improve it?

The candidate experience is simply the series of touchpoints a person has with your organisation during the entire recruitment process. This starts with your advert and ends with onboarding. It includes all systems, communication, media and people in the recruiting process, so it’s time to check:

  • Your employer branding
  • Website
  • Presence on jobsites
  • Any recruitment agents that you use
  • Your job advert
  • Any recruitment technology you use
  • Your application form (either online or offline)
  • All personalised communication
  • Your people

Employer branding and your candidate experience

Employer branding is slightly different from company branding. Company branding speaks to customers and prospects. It may describe your products and services and enthuse buyers. Employer branding speaks to jobseekers. It tells them why your organisation is a great place to work.

Organisations that excel at employer branding include Google, Salesforce and Starbucks. They use a mix of strategies to let jobseekers know how great they are as employers. Each year Google receives approximately 3m applications and it hires approximately 7,000 people. That is almost 430 applications for each person hired.

It pays to improve employer branding. So how do you you start?

  • Try building a page on your website devoted to the benefits of working for you.
    If you don’t tell people, they won’t know.
  • Perhaps create a video that introduces jobseekers to your people, facilities and career opportunities.
    Help people to visualise their own career with you.
  • Think about scheduling some open days to introduce people to your organisation and it culture.
    The more people who talk highly of you, the easier it is to attract talent.
  • Try publishing employee successes stories on Social Media platforms like Facebook.
    Presenting success helps people believe they can be successful too.

The options are endless when it comes to employer branding. The trick is to start somewhere.

Your website

Candidates expect to find your jobs on your website. For some people the candidate experience starts right here. Are your jobs easy to find? Are they up to date? Can they see how long each job has been open? Is there an online application form?

Some simple things to check:

  • Make sure that you have a top level navigation link to the careers section of your website.
    Navigation links like ‘Careers’, ‘Jobs’ or ‘Working for us’ reduces search time for candidates.
  • Check your jobs listing to ensure that job titles, expiry dates, salary & location info is clear.
    People like to apply for jobs that are genuinely open and pay plus location matters to them.
  • Be sure that it’s easy to find the Apply option for each job.
    If you have a jobseeker’s attention, now is the time to capitalise on that.

Tip: An Applicant Tracking System or Recruitment System like CVMinder ATS can post jobs onto your website automatically. Only live jobs are online and it comes with online application forms built in.

Expert tip: Try optimising your careers page(s) to make it more discoverable by search engines like Google. Let’s say that somebody is looking for a new carer job in Cambridge. They generally start by searching for “care jobs in Cambridge” on Google, Bing or another search engine. Using SEO techniques, a local care provider could draw more applicants by optimising its careers page for care jobs in Cambridge.

Job Boards and your candidate experience

Jobseekers often use job boards or jobsites. If you advertise your vacancies on job boards you should review the candidate experience there too.

Some job boards support branding options. That could include your logo and some images for instance. Some jobsites offer video uploads plus other styling options. More branding may come at some cost. It helps, but what you are able to do will depend on your budget.

The candidate experience includes the application process on the jobsites you use. Jobsites such as Indeed support 3 application options:

  1. Apply on the jobsite and deliver their application to you via email.
  2. Apply on the jobsite and deliver their application to your recruitment system.
  3. Redirect the applicant to your own website so that they can apply for the vacancy there.

Options 1 and 2 feel the same for the candidate. However, option 3 redirects candidates to apply for your vacancy elsewhere. That could be a web form on your website or other option on your recruitment system / Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Redirection helps you take control of the candidate experience. However, jobsites will say that redirection may cause loss of interest, reducing the number of applications. This can be true, but evidence also suggests that redirection deters fewer genuinely interested applicants. Instead, more of the less qualified applicants may drop out.

Tip: If job boards support branding, use the available options to improve the candidate experience.

Expert tip: Find a way to redirect the applicant to the specific job they are interested in, not the careers page of your website. If you redirect to your careers page the candidate may have to search for the job again.

Recruitment Agents

How does an external recruitment company or agent represent you? It may seem like a silly question, but the candidate experience is in another party’s hands. The agent commonly advertises your vacancy and speaks with applicants on your behalf. Have you ever asked a candidate how they rated their experience? Perhaps you could ask applicants the following:

  • How were they contacted by the recruitment agent and was it professional?
  • If responding to an agent advert, did that advert read well and describe the role accurately?
  • What did they learn about your organisation via the agent?
  • Did the agent encourage the applicant to consider roles with other employers?
  • Did the agent meet all of its commitments?
  • Was the applicant coached prior to an interview by the agent and, if so, how?

The agent’s role in the overall applicant experience is easily overlooked.

Tip: Ask your candidates about their experience with the recruitment agent. Identify any negatives and discuss those with the agent.

Your recruitment technology

You may have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) already. An ATS is a recruitment system for employers. If you don’t have an ATS, should you buy one? The decision is yours, but your key goal is to ensure that your chosen technology doesn’t degrade the candidate experience.

A good ATS will post your jobs on job boards and website(s) then remove adverts automatically upon expiry. That is important for candidates because consistency between your adverts across different advertising platforms is essential. Differences between jobs on a jobsite and your website can be confusing and deter potential applicants.

Make sure that your recruitment technology is easy to use for all applicants and that you don’t introduce unnecessary technology bias. Your recruitment system should work on any device and any browser, not just the latest tech or some browsers.

The best Applicant Tracking System will ensure:

  • Anybody can use it regardless of technology choice.
  • Applications are technically easy to complete.

Your application form

Employers find themselves in regulated and non regulated industries. Regulated employers must request a lot off candidate information. That is to satisfy safeguarding and other obligations. Others can accept a CV with an optional personal statement or note of introduction.

If you do request a lot of information, you can improve the candidate experience by requesting it in stages. Ask for less information at the early stages and additional information from shortlisted candidates. That can feels less intrusive to candidates, thereby increasing the number of applications an employer receives.

Personalised communication

What is the biggest bugbear for most applicants? Never hearing back from the employer! It’s an answer we all hear across all markets.

If you don’t already, it’s maybe time to communicate with your applicants at each stage of the process. Poor communication can adversely affect the candidate experience and your employer brand.

When you do update candidates they prefer to receive personalised communication. How do you personalise your candidate communication? Rather than having one standard message for progress updates for each stage, have several variations. Think of the reasons that applicants are unsuccessful at each stage of your recruiting cycle and write a template for each of those reasons. Reasons could include:

  • Overseas applicant and you don’t sponsor them.
  • Underqualified for the role.
  • Great candidate, but not for this vacancy.
  • No relevant industry experience.
  • Stronger candidates.

A good Applicant Tracking System or Recruitment System will support as many templates as you require. Templates should automatically populate the applicant name plus other information so each message feels personalised. That saves time but really helps to improve your employer brand. You just never know who your unsuccessful applicants know and who they can influence.

CVMinder ATS and your Candidate experience

What is CVMinder ATS?

It’s an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) / Recruitment System for employers. It helps employers to manage the whole recruiting lifecycle from advertising vacancies to managing applicants. That helps employers recruit for themselves and save lots of time whilst reducing overall costs.

When applying for jobs, CVMinder ATS helps any employer to manage and improve their candidate experience. It supports applications via jobsites, organisation website(s) and other places. The applicant journey is flexible but consistent for each applicant on a job by job basis.

Applicants also gain access to the CVMinder Applicant Console so that they can update their personal information and application details. Employers benefit from controls over what information to collect and at what stage(s) of the recruitment cycle.

What is the CVMinder Candidate Console?

The CVMinder Candidate Console helps candidates to update job applications, review historical applications, accept interview requests, complete self-assessments, apply for new jobs with the employer and more. Candidates can pre-prepare key sections an application to make the process faster and more convenient.

We made some changes to improve the candidate experience

Our candidate console requires universal access. Candidates use lots of different technologies to apply for jobs and manage their applications. Using a specific smart phone, desktop computer or other device should not introduce a hidden bias or discrimination when applying for jobs. Introducing an App could require the latest Operating System. That is an issue we wanted to avoid.

The improved CVMinder Candidate Console works on any browser on any device. General improvements have also made it more mobile friendly. General layout and candidate instructions are now clearer, as is the contact information given for the employer. Eliminating unintended technology bias has helped to improve the candidate experience for everyone.

If you want to know more about improving your candidate experience or how to improve recruiting with with CVMinder ATS then contact us to find out more.

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