As is usually the case when I start writing anything, I’ve got far more to say than the average person and my use of the English language is, well, superfluous. I also don’t like chopping words off because I think they are all wonderfully crafted.
Therefore I’ve split my thoughts on candidate experience into two separate articles otherwise you’d fall asleep by the end of it. In ‘part one’, I brain dump my thoughts on what candidate experience is, what the current situation is with it, why it matters and the impact it has on employer branding. In ‘part two’, I’ll look at the good and bad of candidate experience as well as what we can do to get better at it.
What is it actually about?
Candidate experience eh… it can mean all manner of things. There’s no real definition as such, Jibe give it a go by saying “candidate experience is defined as how job seekers perceive and react to employers’ sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes”. That’s the sort of thing we’re talking about.
Formal definitions aside, candidate experience is 100% a recruitment ‘buzzword’ amongst all the other things that people say to make them appear wholesome and ‘on point’. You know, something we all love to shout about, tell anyone who’ll listen, that they care deeply… blah blah blah. The reality is somewhat different, however.
There’s a huge amount of talk about ‘human experience’, it’s definitely something we should be talking about and improving but my gut says there’s too much talk and not enough action. In fact, the statistics back it up as well. According to a survey by Careerarc, 60% of candidates feel they have a bad candidate experience when they’ve applied for roles.
The stark reality is that when it comes to candidate experience, most businesses are crap at it and, further to that, a lot don’t care either.
The reason I’m writing about this now is that it really is a candidates market at the moment, fueled by The Great Resignation, hunger to continue with remote working and the cost of living crisis that are all leading to candidates reevaluating what they need and desire from a job.
In fact it’s never been more candidate-driven! Many businesses haven’t changed, regarding their approach to candidate experience, and maybe never will. There’s certainly a heightened awareness from businesses now, particularly among the ambitious growing type. The reality is that they cannot compete on name recognition and salaries so they’re being more creative with how to attract candidates. In short, there’s a lot of work to do.
Why does it matter?
The most obvious answer to why candidate experience matters is not at the heart of the ‘hiring experience process’ – we’re all people! People need jobs, jobs enable us to do fun things but also the important stuff like keep a roof over our heads, feed the kids, watch Netflix and so on. Jobs matter and they directly influence people’s lives – this has to be respected and central to whatever your approach is.
If you’re not into the whole ‘being nice to people’ thing, another thing that might well pique your interest is the correlation between bad hiring experiences and hitting your bottom line. The legendary example (in my head at least) of this is Virgin Media. 18% of rejected candidates applying to Virgin Media were customers, and badly treated candidates/customers switching provider cost Virgin Media about £4.5m. That’s a lot of money. They put a huge programme in place to turn this around. They are obviously a massive organisation and can absorb that hit, but that’s not the point. People can be many things, customer or candidate. Here at Troi we hire talent professionals to bolster up our talent acquisition arm of the business. Someone who might not be perfect for us could be the Head of Talent at a business we’re pitching at…. You see where I’m going with this.
Added to this, bad news spreads faster than good news. Give someone a crap experience, they’re more likely to tell their mates or tell people in the industry. Give someone a good experience and they’re less likely to shout it from the rooftops, but if asked directly they’ll be more than happy to say ‘yeah they were good actually’. If you hire a lot, particularly in the inter-connected, socially savvy world we live in now, this’ll come back either way.
Karma is a… you get the point.
How does it affect your brand?
Employer branding is a separate subject in its own right but there’s some clear crossover with candidate experience too.
What actually is your brand? The fluffy photos of team socials, ping pong tables, baking cakes for charity to show we care? I mean that’s all lovely but that’s not really what it’s about.
Your employer brand boils down to people – the people who work in the business, the people who want to work in your business and the people you want to work in your business. If you don’t get that bit right, you are going to have a hard time hiring the right people and meet your business goals.
The most visible and widely used platform for this is Glassdoor. Whatever your views are on it, candidates take heed of the reviews there – particularly the bad ones. I’ve lost count of the number of times a candidate has rejected an offer, or pulled out of interview, or decided not to take an initial screening call after checking a business’ Glassdoor (or Google, Trustpilot etc.) – it genuinely makes a difference. I’d even go as far to say that your employer brand is your candidate experience.
In summary – candidate experience matters. Get it right and hiring becomes easier, businesses can become easier and you also get to treat people properly. That’s all good right!?
That’s the end of part one. In part two I’ll go more into good and bad candidate experience and also what we can do to improve. Thanks for reading.