I’ve trained literally thousands of ‘rookie’ recruiters in my time, and at some point in their induction I would usually ask them the following question:
“Who do you think is more important? The client or the candidate?”
After an awkward silence, unfortunately there was usually a clear majority voting for the client.
Somebody then usually responds with, “Obviously because they’re the ones paying the bill!”
Hold on just a sec. Not so fast!
“But without a candidate, you’ll never make a placement. And without a placement there will never even be a bill to pay!” I would then typically say before looking around at a room full of confused expressions.
The problem is that often this ‘rookie’ misconception doesn’t go away and in the minds of too many (even experienced) recruiters the candidate always comes in second place.
Hence the ‘not so positive’ reputation that many recruiters have out there in the candidate community. Please understand that this post isn’t about the relationship that recruiters have with their candidates. It’s focusing more on the experience that candidates have when dealing with employers looking to recruit directly, and the impact that a negative candidate experience can actually have on their business.
But I certainly can’t take all the credit for the information I’m about to share. One of my colleagues over at Software Advice (an online reviewer of recruiting technology) recently shared their latest study with me and it got me thinking.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone reading this blog post that the candidate experience is an integral part of the recruitment process that can impact how effectively an organisation is able to recruit quality candidates.
But when the team at Software Advice conducted their survey with nearly 400 respondents from around the world who had applied to a full-time job in the previous 12 months, the results were pretty eye opening … even for someone who has been banging the drum about candidate care for over 20 years!
Here are some of the key findings:
1. The top causes of negative candidate experiences
Unclear application instructions are the primary cause of a bad candidate experience, cited by 93% of job seekers. Extremely long application forms are the second most common cause of a negative candidate experience, cited by 90% of job seekers. But look at some of the other triggers for a negative candidate experience: minimal job description; no salary information; inability to make contact with the hiring manager.
Without wanting to sound too alarmed, this is pretty scary stuff. If you can’t provide a candidate with a detailed job description, then they will simply assume the position doesn’t exist and they will immediately lose interest, and you will lose credibility as an organisation.
Without sufficient salary information, candidates may spend time putting together a detailed application only to be let down (and becoming pretty p*ssed off) when they eventually learn how vastly different (in either direction) the salary actually is.
All that effort for nothing … And as for not being able to reach out to someone personally, this can be extremely off putting … especially for senior level roles when candidates will have questions and more often than not will want to discuss the opportunity before applying. It makes sense not to get your candidates off side before they even submit their application.
Some of these contributors to a negative candidate experience are very easy to rectify. It all comes down to being prepared well before you even advertise the role.
2. Suggested improvements to the application process
More than one-third of job seekers (34%) said that more communication during the hiring process would improve their candidate experience. The primary thing job seekers said would improve their candidate experience is a clear timeline of the actual hiring process (cited by 74%). When recruiting talent for any organisation, communication has always been (and will always be) key. You need to make the candidate feel important and wanted.
If the candidate is kept in the dark, or only receives automated / electronic messages with no human contact whatsoever during the application process, what do you think they will start to believe happens inside the actual organisation? Are people kept in the dark? Are there no personal communication channels?
The best candidates will self-eject and look for another opportunity elsewhere.
3. The impact of communication on the candidate experience
This chart also reveals some pretty interesting facts about the way candidates think about the importance of communication during the recruitment process. Way back in the ‘90’s, when we couldn’t create automated email sequences to respond to candidates and we actually had to pick up the phone and speak to every single one of them, we were able to quickly gauge how a candidate was feeling … and respond accordingly.
Also there were no social media platforms for ‘irate’ candidates to share their frustrations and blacklist your organisation with everyone they knew.
Today, in 140 characters and a push of a button, if you’ve created a negative candidate experience, the world will know about it straight away and your employer brand could be tarnished. So you might want to implement more quality checks and protocol around the candidate experience.
Candidates aren’t mind readers. They genuinely want to be given as much information as possible before applying. And while some candidates may consider ‘no news to be good news’, others may consider ‘no news’ to mean they’ve been rejected. You don’t want them making the wrong assumption.
4. Put yourself in your candidates’ shoes
How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of some of your company’s automated email responses? Worse still, how would you feel if you just never heard anything after submitting your application to a company you had your heart set on working for?
Have you gone through your own application process first hand recently? I don’t just mean thinking about how the process works, but actually really going through it.
Go on – create a dummy résume and submit it through your careers page portal and see what happens. Is the résume submission process even intuitive? Can you apply via a mobile device? Are you asked to spend 30 – 45 minutes responding to a series of pointless questions?
What’s going through your head while you do this? Perhaps your thinking “this is 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back“!
What about when you receive that automated response from no-reply@[your company].com that may as well say, “Thanks for taking 30 minutes to submit your application. You’ll probably never hear from us again!”
Now think for a moment about how many candidates are actually self-ejecting from the process at this point during their application. What if the best talent aren’t even completing their application, choosing instead to abandon because it’s simply all too hard?
Trust me … a candidate is never going to accuse you of over communicating.
Far too many candidates are starting to feel disrespected and even resentful during the recruitment process. Whether you’re a business owner, hiring manager, or internal recruiter, it’s up to you to ensure that you treat your future potential employees with the respect they so rightly deserve.