Create a Positive Experience for Job Candidates

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By: Jason Florek, Talent Acquisition Coach and Executive Recruiter at Nexstar Network

I’ve been in talent acquisition for 25 years, and I can say with confidence that we’re in the middle of one of the most challenging labor markets I’ve ever seen. Right now, because there are seemingly infinite opportunities available, candidates have most of the power. If you’re involved with the talent acquisition process, you can do everything right in interviews, present a strong culture, and make an aggressive offer, but your ideal candidate still might not bite. Losing a great candidate is discouraging; plus, the hard work and money involved in finding the right fit is lost! Because of this, it’s more important than ever before to create a positive experience for the candidate from the first time we make contact to the moment they come on board.

The candidate experience starts well before potential recruits walk in for an interview. Everything actually starts with your company’s branding tools. Creating enticing job descriptions that outline the information candidates value most can have a bigger impact on the candidate experience than most people realize. Sharing company history, along with your mission, vision, and values is important, but consider also putting information about compensation, benefits, and flexibility at the top of your job descriptions and advertisements, rather than burying this information at the bottom. Clearly defining the total rewards of a role helps potential recruits understand what’s in it for them.

Your career site and social media are among the best places to define your employer brand.  Embedding important information that affects a candidate’s understanding of the culture, role, and rewards in these areas can heighten their understanding of what to expect. Make applying as easy as possible on your career site; consider adding information about the entire interview process. This can help avoid confusion as to what’s next in the process. But be careful – candidates might turn away if the process is too complicated or requires too much effort to throw their hat in the ring.

Adding Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO) statements, using inclusive language, and thoroughly broadcasting your values will help candidates match their experience viewing your job advertisements with what they experience throughout the process. These things not only broaden the scope of potential targets, but they show a progressive culture – something that most people value.

When first contacting a potential candidate, it’s human nature to immediately dive into why the position they have applied to or been recruited for is a great opportunity. But if we do that, what can be lost is an understanding of the factors that caused the candidate to consider a job change in the first place. A strong early focus on a candidate’s personal situation can help create awareness of wants and needs that can be addressed throughout the recruiting process.

Many positions, specifically in the trades, are getting harder to fill. The candidate pool is shrinking for skilled roles, and strong candidates are harder to find. So, when we gain interest from a great candidate, it’s important to invest time into making sure they enjoy the process, regardless of the outcome. Doing the little things – creating a welcome sign when candidates show up for interviews, asking if they would like a beverage, and connecting on a personal level – can lead to a more positive experience.

Common courtesy also goes a long way. The way we displace candidates who don’t fit our organizational needs speaks volumes about our company’s values. We’ve all experienced candidate “ghosting”, as well as that frustrating feeling when a candidate doesn’t show up for an interview. But put yourself in the candidate’s shoes! The same is true for them – they’ve experienced ghosting, too. It’s true that having a conversation or sending an email letting a candidate know they aren’t a good fit can be uncomfortable. I know it’s easy to walk away and focus on other things. However, the trades are a small world. How likely is it that someone who’s been “ghosted” by an employer will tell others about their experience? Very likely! It only takes a minute for us to provide valuable information for someone’s professional growth, even if we decide they aren’t the right fit for us.

Even if the news is good, everyone can benefit from more communication. If a good candidate we really want to hire has to wait too long for feedback and follow-up, they’re more likely to walk away, especially if they’re interviewing for multiple positions. This makes an efficient communication process even more important. Try integrating automated text messaging to improve communication, when it comes to scheduling and communicating next steps. Look for ways to provide insight and feedback for improvement to candidates throughout the process.

By providing excellent information in job postings, showing an understanding of a candidate’s personal situation, doing the little things, and being diligent in our follow-up, we can do our best to ensure a positive candidate experience. We’re more likely to gain a candidate’s interest, address their wants and needs, and leave them with a positive impression of the company culture.

The labor market shifts all the time. Conditions will shift again. Currently, the responsibility lies with us, as employers, to ensure we do everything possible to attract, hire, and retain the top talent available. In an environment where it feels like everyone is hiring, shifting the focus toward creating a positive candidate experience is an effective way to improve our hiring success.

Jason Florek has close to 25 years of experience developing and managing integrated recruiting programs for iconic brands. He loves to help businesses attain their growth goals, and specializes in sourcing strategy, multi-hire project management, and executive search. As a Talent Acquisition Coach and Executive Recruiter at Nexstar Network, Jason enjoys helping members work through the complexities of building strong teams in a competitive talent marketplace.

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