Thursday, June 30, 2016

Through a Candidate’s Eyes: Improving the Applicant Experience

Long gone are the days where companies assumed they held all of the power in the hiring process. Smart employers know that recruiting is more of a give-and-take. In order to hire the best candidates, you can't just expect the recruit to sell you on themselves -- you need to sell them on your business.

One of the best ways to do this is by controlling the entire experience of the recruit, from the moment they find your job listing until they accept your offer. Investing in user experience for online applicants and ensuring the entire hiring process is smooth can make your company more desirable, attracting top talent and ultimately leading to a better, more productive workplace.

Here are three things to keep in mind when guiding your recruits through your hiring process:

Start with your first contact - which is going to be online

The first time a potential employee hears from your company, it's likely not from an recruiter, HR representative, or executive. Either they have seen a job listing on a site like LinkedIn, Indeed or Monster, or they are familiar with your company from elsewhere and have checked the careers page of your site for listings directly.

Mobile recruiting is more than just a buzzword. Three-fifths of all candidates interact with job listings on mobile devices. Ask yourself: Is your website responsive? Is it clearly presenting information to job seekers in all formats? Make sure the websites and other recruiting tools you use to post job listings are also mobile-optimized.

Aside from being able to find company information and job descriptions quickly and effectively, a great user experience depends on ease of submission. A 15-page mobile application won't get many takers, especially from currently employed and highly desirable applicants who don't have time to fill out page after page of information for one job. Be sure your forms are not just easy to read, but short. Only ask the information you need to qualify a candidate up front. While having them fill in their education and job history into a form might be easier on your candidate processing database, it's onerous and repetitive, since it's included in their resume. Invest in software that can scan candidate resumes for that information. Some companies have even begun looking at social media profiles in lieu of resumes at early stages of recruiting. Eliminating points of friction will help you attract a higher volume of candidates and, inevitably, better recruits.

Present the right kind of information

It's not enough to just present the information in a pleasing and clear manner -- your content must contain substance. Avoid evergreen job listings that are too vague to be useful for all but bottom-tier candidates.

Your job description should not only be clear and descriptive, it should include additional information candidates need to know about making a decision whether or not to apply, such as office hours, regular benefits, and salary range.

Additionally, candidates will want to know the answers to these types of questions, either from your website or from the interview process:

  • What is the company culture like?
  • How does this company distinguish itself from the competition?
  • Will I be doing work I'll enjoy and learn from?
  • What are the other employees like?
  • How will my role benefit the company?
  • Is this business good at work-life balance?
  • Do I want to work here?

Follow up, follow up, follow up

At every stage of the process, following up with potential employees will eliminate possible frustration (due to not knowing where they are at) and ensure candidates that there's a human side to the recruiting process.

Applicant tracking systems are useful. They can automatically send a confirmation to a candidate that you received their application. They can remind recruits to submit more information or complete evaluations. Don't use them as a crutch for all communication, though. At worst, they can become robotic and impersonal. Don't let candidate think they're resume was swallowed by a black hole when the applied to your company. Let me know you got it. If they aren't being considered for the position, let them know when it has been filled. Above all, communicate with candidates you have actually contacted about or brought on site for an interview - not only the candidates who are offered the position.

Follow up doesn't have to end after an employee accepts the job. Onboarding, including benefit information and forms, is yet another point that can make or break your company reputation with job candidates. Make the training process as easy as possible while still being thorough. Consider checking in with your new employees at 30 days (or perhaps even three or six months) to not only get feedback on the hiring process, but to make sure their transition has gone well.

Building your company can also mean building your brand

In the end, good recruit experience is all about good relationship building. Every interaction, from an online portal to a manager's phone call, can positively or negatively impact a candidate's perception of your company. Remember: they're also evaluating you to see if your company is a good fit for them.

Every few months, review how a recruit will interact with your office by staging a mock application process. Go to your website and try to see it through their eyes. Implement processes to make the hiring process as fast as possible. Most of all, engage with your recruits so that, whether or not they are offered or accept a job with you, they come away from the process feeling positive about your entire business.

For more information on how J & J can help you with your hiring process, please contact us. 

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