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3 Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience

Companies should adopt a 'candidate-centric' approach to recruiting and employment screening, or risk alienating qualified candidates and customers.

All managers, across industries and the B2B/B2C divide, now realize that providing a good customer experience has become one of the most important ways to steal a march on competitors.

And the explosive rise in everyone’s use of mobile devices – especially millennials –  has made many firms, like Uber and Apple, find new ways to provide their customers with as effortless an experience as possible, which in turn has upped the ante and made customers expect a better experience everywhere else.

As anyone who works in customer service will attest, customers increasingly demand more from their interactions with both customer service reps and any technology that provides self-service (over the phone, on the web, or via social media). According to CEB research, job candidates aren’t much different.

The expectations that candidates have of their interactions with any company they apply to for a job are being pushed up by their experience as consumers And this poses a risk or opportunity for firms; especially those that hire people for “high-volume” positions (e.g., customer service or frontline sales jobs where companies are almost constantly hiring), because their applicants could well be their customers too, now or in the future.

Making a bad impression during the hiring process could cost you a good employee and a valuable customer. And, given how easy it is to broadcast the experience on social media, a single bad (or good) impression could have lasting implications.

Three Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience

As companies begin to plan their 2016 recruiting strategy, they should keep in mind three pointers to ensure the experience they provide candidates helps them attract and hire the best ones, and is an asset to their brand(s) and their company.

  1. Make everyone in the recruiting process aware that a poor candidate experience is a business risk: CEB data show one quarter of candidates report having a negative recruiting experience during their most recent job search.

    This type of experience will deter even the best candidates and could lead them – and their friends and social media followers – to shun the firm’s products and services.

  2. Adopt a “candidate-first” mentality: Corporate recruiting teams that see the recruitment process solely as a way for the company to select the right candidates risk wasting time and money. For example, CEB data show that, of those applying to high volume positions, 72% are of average quality at best. And a quarter of candidates for those roles apply, often online, to at least 10 companies in the early stages of a job search, as well as many hedging their bets by going for jobs they have little chance of getting.

    A more candidate-centric approach will provide the right information at the right stage of the job search, and require the right level of effort from candidates. With the explosion in smartphone use, and the big influx of millennials into the labor market, it is particularly important that a lot of this information and interaction can be done on a mobile device.

    Treating candidates more as “partners” in the process will produce higher rates of hiring the best employees, higher candidate satisfaction rates, improved retention and performance from newly-hired employees, and a reduced risk to the company’s brand.

  3. Provide clear and transparent feedback to job candidates: Poor communication is a key cause of a negative candidate experience. When recruiters focus on moving candidates through the recruitment process, they often fail to communicate properly with candidates. Applying for a job has become a one-sided affair, leaving candidates frustrated by lack of feedback, engagement, or inclusion.

    Incorporating constructive and valuable feedback at the right time into the recruiting process, not only keeps candidates engaged, but also stops them from dropping out of the process.

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