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How to Create the Best Candidate Experience

BY RecruitmentMarketing.com Contributor / March 1st, 2022 / 5 MIN READ

Your candidate experience should be consistent no matter where candidates engage with your employer brand, whether that’s on your careers site, on a job posting, at a virtual career fair—anywhere!

Your recruitment marketing and employer branding strategies likely utilize many channels (and they should!), so you want to ensure that experience is seamless across all of them.

“For many job seekers, their first impression of your employer brand is not your career site—it’s your post on a job board or social media platform such as LinkedIn,” says Keca Ward, Senior Director of Talent Experience at Phenom People. “Talent branding across all channels is critical to delivering a seamless candidate experience that engages and converts best-fit candidates.” 

Candidate experience is critical to successful recruiting strategies. Know the channels where your employer brand exists and audit how they align. This will help you understand how a candidate may be finding you, learning more about you, and making the decision to apply for your jobs.

Ensure candidates have the same experience no matter where they see you—on or offline. Hopefully, that experience is a positive one! 

Let’s look at each layer of the candidate experience for recruitment marketers to consider:

  • Develop a Story
  • Tell Your Story Across Many Channels
  • Paid Channels for Recruitment
  • Earned Channels for Recruitment
  • Owned Channels for Recruitment
  • Collect Candidate Feedback

Develop a Story

Tell a story across all channels that will create engagement and be impactful to drive candidates through your recruitment marketing funnel.

Derive this story from a combination of your employee value proposition (EVP) and real testimonials from employees. What is it like to work at your company? What do people love about their jobs? Candidates should be able to glean this story no matter where they interact with your employer brand.

Pro tip: Only speak about the employee experience from a real and human place. Make sure to gather feedback from your employees (e.g., Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, are a great way to do this) to discover what is “real” in your employer brand and what your value is as an employer. You shouldn’t try to define this on your own; utilize your employees’ perspectives and experiences.

Create employer brand guidelines to drive all of your content throughout the candidate experience. This way, you can ensure no matter who is working on a piece of the funnel, the job seeker gets the same impression of your company.

Tell Your Story Across Many Channels

Understand the different channels in your recruitment marketing strategy and how each provides a unique opportunity to create candidate engagement. 

To start, put on your job seeker hat! Search your company online, try applying for an open position or two, and see what the candidate experience is like for yourself. Audit as you go and take note of where you can improve the candidate experience, where your employer brand needs more consistency, and where information or details are missing that a candidate might find valuable.

Job seekers will encounter your employer brand at many points along their journey. As recruitment marketers, you’ll influence their experience with your paid, earned, and owned media. Here’s how each of those pillars plays a role:

Paid Channels for Recruitment

With more recruitment marketers adopting programmatic job advertising, you can generally ensure that budgets are used more efficiently than past paid media. However, the most significant variable in recruitment advertising performance has to do with the candidate experience.

It starts with getting people to click on your ads. If you’re noticing that impressions aren’t converting into clicks, look at your job titles. Job titles that don’t adhere to best practices generally won’t attract candidates to take further action. Nobody wants to learn more about roles like “Chief Marketing Wizard” or “Sr. Manufacturing Mgr II – Ops Level 1 | Day Shift Job Code: AB2991”.

Improve the candidate experience by optimizing the job title for keyword-based searches. Tailor it for the specific job seeker audience you need. 

The same goes for any other copy in your ads. You need to share your authentic employee experiences for candidates to want to learn more about your job openings. Learn more about job postings best practices.

Pro tip: When in doubt about your ad copy’s relevance to your audience, conduct an A/B test. Run two different versions of your ad for a few days until you see which one gains more clicks. Then, you can turn off the version that didn’t work

Earned Channels for Recruitment

Job seekers will also encounter your company through earned media such as shares, mentions, reposts, and reviews. You don’t have much control over what other people say about your company, but it’s essential to know the places a candidate might find them.

Employer review sites, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and Comparably are excellent for engaging with current employees and receiving their open and honest feedback about you as an employer. Audit these sites a few times a year to see the conversation about your employee experience.

If the story your employees share does not align with your EVP, take steps to course correct:

  • Provide feedback to the rest of your human resources team
  • Interview current employees for their testimonials to see what aligns
  • Continue to share the employee stories that amplify your EVP

Also, you can earn advocates through internal company channels. Internally, you can earn employee advocates or brand ambassadors, and even employee referrals. Referrals are proven to reduce time to hire, cost per hire, and more.

Owned Channels for Recruitment

Lastly, you have your career site and your social media channels to drive home your story. While you have complete control over these platforms, there are still some places to help you notice when the candidate experience is inconsistent.

If candidates are landing on your website but not applying to roles, start by evaluating your job descriptions. They should be concise, engaging, and speak to the right audience that clicked on your job title. Job description best practices and brand messaging are the focus at this stage.

Pro Tip: Consider a tool like Textio or Ongig to understand how different types of job seekers perceive your job description.

Additionally, if candidates are starting applications but not finishing them, you have another issue with your process. Make sure your application is as concise and straightforward as possible. It also needs to be optimized for a short-form mobile application. 

If you have 24 pages of qualifying questions, your candidate experience will suffer as they have to deal with a time-intense commitment that most likely will result in them not getting a response. In today’s labor market, very few candidates will commit this amount of time for an employer whose application process is a time sink. 

During this final stage of the application process, take the time to understand which qualifying questions are absolutely needed versus which ones are just background noise. Your candidates will thank you, and you’ll see an uptick in your application rate.

Social media is also an excellent channel for real-time interactions with job seekers and candidates. Use your company’s social profiles to share job postings, employee stories, and more, all tying back to your employer brand story.

Collect Candidate Feedback

To continue creating the best candidate experience, it’s critical to seek out feedback year over year. Send anonymous surveys to your new hires and recent candidates to ask them about their experience.
Here are some examples of questions to ask in your surveys:

Ask new hires: Ask candidates who weren’t hired:
  • Did your first month in the role match your expectations of the job requirements?
  • Did your first month in the role match your expectations of the company culture?
  • Would you refer a friend to this company?
  • How friendly was the recruiting team you interacted with?
  • Did the interview process match your expectations of our company?
  • What would make our hiring process better?

 

Share this feedback with everyone who touches the candidate experience: recruitment marketing, recruiters, hiring leaders, and other HR teams. The candidate experience is impacted by everyone who interacts with job seekers throughout their journeys, but recruitment marketers are the first line of defense. Convert more top talent into candidates by focusing your efforts on these touch points.

We will be updating this page often and welcome your suggestions. Do you have other candidate experience ideas or tips? Is there anything else you’d like to know regarding this subject? Just drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll try to include it here.

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