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The importance of the candidate experience

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The balance of power in today’s candidate-short market has well and truly shifted, meaning that employers need to pay more attention to the candidate experience throughout the recruitment process. Too many organisations have not moved with the times and rely on their own standard, time-consuming hiring processes that pay little attention to the growing power of candidates. Why is it so important and what exactly do candidates want?

Why bother?

  • Reputation- regardless of whether candidates have a good or bad experience, they will tell people about it. A bad experience can tarnish a company’s reputation or damage a brand.
  • Trust– candidates will be speaking to multiple agencies, so ensuring their experience is positive will make them feel valued and in turn gain their trust, leaving you in pole position to influence their search better.
  • Losing– for smaller companies, the recruitment process is often the first chance to sell the brand. A bad experience will mean losing talent to competitors who do it better.

What makes a bad experience?

  • Time– the constant criticism is that the recruitment process is too long from start to finish. A recent survey showed that 82% of candidates would like the entire process sorted in under a month, but so many organisations involve too many stakeholders and cannot manage the process in a timely fashion.
  • Poor communication– being kept updated during the process is paramount to keep a candidate engaged, but the experience shouldn’t end once a decision is made. Another recent survey showed that over half of candidates were still waiting on a decision after three months and that the majority never get an email or a call if they haven’t been successful.
  • Poor reputation– first impressions count; word of mouth is powerful and a bad candidate experience will put future applicants off as soon as they hear about it. It can be as damaging as poor financial results, leadership scandals or external negative press.

So what do candidates want?

Glassdoor recently found that the top thing that candidates want is something that should be relatively simple to implement – good communication. Candidates want regular updates; they want to understand how the application and interview process works; and they want feedback. Straight talking and efficient decision helps all parties understand where they are and streamlines the process. Minimising wasted time comes top of the wish list for candidates.  

It sounds easy, but it either isn’t, or some companies are loath to change their methods. Unfortunately for them, it means that in today’s market, they are likely to miss out on the very best talent to those business who manage the candidate experience well.