Job candidates are all too aware how important it is to make the right impression on the people that could be about to employ them, but it shouldn’t be a one-way street: companies that neglect the impression they make on candidates in the hiring process will harm themselves too.
In a CEB survey of nearly 4,000 people, one in four candidates reported a “negative recruiting experience” during their most recent job search. Analysis of the data also shows that poor communication is the main cause of bad experiences and candidate dissatisfaction.
It’s a strange anomaly for successful firms that would never dream of keeping customers, prospects, suppliers, or their own employees in the dark. An HR or corporate comms team that didn’t respond to an employee query, a customer service team that failed to get in contact about a delayed order, or a sales team the ignored a proposal request would all be seen as doing a bad job. Yet this type of experience is a frequent one for job candidates.
Four Things to Focus On
Firms focus too heavily on moving candidates through the process and overlook the importance of maintaining communication with job applicants. It’s not that companies set out to upset job candidates; while expectations and technologies have changed, hiring processes have not.
Companies can take four steps to make the right impression on candidates and provide a better experience.
Job candidates expect a straightforward experience online: People now use mobile devices for a whole host of activities, from shopping to banking. But the steps to apply for jobs are rarely as clear or intuitive. Firms should ensure that their career sites, application processes, and assessments are easy to use and optimized for mobile.
Candidates want greater transparency: They want to know more about the job they’re applying for and what they need to do to get it. Companies are missing a trick by not providing applicants with more information upfront about the day-to-day requirements of the role and the stages in the hiring process.
Setting candidates’ expectations in advance helps them to make informed decisions about whether it’s the right job for them and allows them to choose to continue with the application process or bow out.
Job candidates want to give and receive feedback: Having put in time and energy to progress through the hiring stages, jobseekers want feedback on how they performed, how their qualifications stack up, how they scored on assessments and how they could improve for future opportunities.
Companies don’t have to share a full report; simple hints and tips, helpful for guiding candidates’ development, will often be an improvement on the existing process. Some firms signpost other job openings the candidate might be more suited to. It is also important to record candidate feedback routinely to identify any problems and understand how engaged candidates are across the stages of the process.
Candidates want status updates: There are critical points in the job application process where candidates want to hear from a potential employer. These communications don’t have to be highly personalized, but they do need to be clear, action-oriented and set expectations on the next stage(s).
A candidate’s recruiting experience can be greatly enhanced by firms acknowledging when applications have been submitted, assessments fulfilled, and interviews completed. Companies also need to let candidates know if they’ve been successful or not in securing the job.
Black Holes Can Swallow Star Performers
Most candidates are victims of the “recruiting black hole,” which is created when potential employers go silent during the process. Companies fail to acknowledge that resumés (or CVs) and applications have been submitted, do not provide information on where candidates are in the hiring process or how they performed in interviews, or – worse still – fail to let applicants know they have been unsuccessful.
Understandably, when candidates get the silent treatment they become frustrated. They have invested significant time and effort – researching the firm, customizing their resumé, applying for the job and prepping for and completing assessments – only to be left hanging. Even for the lucky few that do progress through the hiring process, they’re likely to be kept in limbo for around 13 weeks (i.e., three full months) before securing the job.
But when companies get the candidate experience right it has a knock-on effect after the candidate starts work. New hires apply 15% more discretionary effort and are 38% more likely to stay with the company. And happier employees work harder.
Successful firms realise that the recruiting process plays a critical role both in acquiring high quality candidates and improving performance once they’re in the role. But existing hiring processes are giving some firms a bad reputation and leaving candidates – who, don’t forget, are potential customers – frustrated.
A version of this post originally appeared on Recruiter.