We’ve been increasingly dismayed by what we’ve been seeing on LinkedIn, which amounts to an ongoing blame game between candidates and recruiters, both of whom feel they’re being disrespected.
Recruiters are bothered by candidates who “ghost” them, sometimes lapsing communication well into the interview process. They think candidates are disrespecting their time, or asking for too much money.
Meanwhile, candidates are also feeling abandoned and ignored. One poster said they applied to literally 1,000 jobs without getting a single response. Other candidates claim that after they define boundaries—including the pay they need—they never hear back.
It’s clear that recruiters and candidates alike are feeling the stresses of an employment climate where there are more open jobs than qualified candidates. And while everyone’s experience is important, if you care about the reputation of your company, it’s the candidate experience that should matter most.
Candidate experience matters
When someone applies to your organization, it is a golden opportunity to reinforce your employer brand—and ultimately your consumer brand.
If a person has a good experience, you earn a brand ambassador. If the experience is bad, you earn a bunch of bad-mouthing. And if the experience is not worthy of saying anything, you’ve lost an opportunity to endear people to your employer brand.
What candidates experience during the recruiting process is the foundation of an important relationship between companies and their people. Even the people they don’t hire. Every single person who applies to your organization is a full-on human being, and for that reason alone, they deserve respect and clear, honest communication. But another important reason to value the people who enter your hiring funnel is that, broadly speaking, your candidate experience is defining your employer brand.
Your employer brand matters
It’s important to have a healthy, attractive employer brand so that your organization can easily attract the most qualified and aligned candidates.
A solid employer brand communicates exactly what a company is and is not as an employer, and, particularly when you have an abundance of quality EB content, you can cultivate an audience of potential candidates, all of whom have already self-identified as good fits with your company’s culture, mission, and work environment.
Then, when you have open roles, you get applications from ideal candidates.
Treat candidates like they matter, and you’ll have a better employer brand—and likely better recruiting results
In order for recruiters to get the best people in the best roles, the candidate experience needs to feel humane and aligned with an organization’s employer brand.
To that end, we recommend humanizing the recruiting process in several ways:
Cultivate a candidate audience. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s important to build a talent network, even before you’re urgently in need of talent. When you’ve invested in creating a community of people who’ve shown their continued interest in who you are and the authentic stories you’re sharing, you’re engaging on a more human level even before someone applies.
Optimize your automation. When a potential candidate goes from “interested” to “applicant,” make sure it’s a human who decides what happens next. Applicant Tracking Systems certainly have their place in the recruiting process, but if they’re implemented without careful customization, you risk overlooking people who might be great culture adds but don’t make it through your filters. You also risk turning off ideal applicants with tone-deaf autoresponders (or no response at all).
Make the time for human interaction. If your applicant pool is primed to give you ideal candidates and your automation systems are appropriately making the overall process more efficient, recruiters will have more time to actually interact with candidates. That includes personally replying to emails–even if the response is automated. (“Canned” responses can still be sincerely composed.) It also means following up after each stage and showing compassion however and whenever possible.
When a candidate’s experience accurately reflects a company’s employer brand, everyone wins
Yes, people who apply for jobs typically care about money, and so do the companies who hire them.
But if employment was only about money, people’s feelings wouldn’t be showing up all over LinkedIn and Glassdoor. The truth is that people–candidates as well as recruiters–care about where they work. They want to be somewhere they belong, where they feel valued, and where they believe they can make a meaningful contribution.
And with an effective employer brand and an aligned recruiting process that supports it, a candidate’s experience can be uplifting for all involved, no matter the outcome.