Is Your Candidate Experience Helping or Hurting Your Business?

July 18, 2017

Look at it this way, every time you fill a position, you may be inadvertently damaging your brand. How? Each of those 249 job candidates will have a very particular experience with your organisation. They will tell their family, friends, and fellow workers what it is like to engage with your company.
Candidate onboarding, candidate attractiveness, or the candidate journey – whatever you may call it –in all the discussions that I've had in the last five years, what I to refer to as the candidate experience is the most overlooked aspect in the discussion around workforce management.
When you consider the prevalence of skill shortages and how top talent is becoming scarcer than ever, I feel that the candidate experience should get far more attention than it gets now.
Let me explain...
Why (Only) Worrying About the Candidate You Hire Shows A Serious Lack of Foresight
It is getting harder and harder to fill certain roles.
It is understandable companies are doing whatever they can to attract talent in a world with shortages on the market and difficulties attracting and keeping the right talent.
Here is the problem.
Far too many companies are neglecting the candidate experience and it is hurting them in the long run.
When an average of 250 people apply for every open position, it is imperative companies think very carefully about the experience candidates have when they interact.
Let me give you an example.
Steve, a respected and highly sought after developer, submits his cover letter and CV to Company X for an open position they've advertised. Although Company X eventually fills the position, our man Steve never receives a response of any sort. Never. What does that tell Steve about Company X? What does Steve tell others about Company X?
Do you want 1000’s of people like Steve, who haven't had the best experience with your organisation, posting about it on Glassdoor and telling their colleagues about their experiences?
That is what's often neglected in the whole discussion.
It's Time to Shake Up the Status Quo
When companies have programmes that they want to ramp up, and they are figuring out how to manage their contingent workforce, the conversation typically goes something along these lines:
“Should we go with a VMS platform, yes or no?”
“Should we go with MSP, yes or no?”
In other words, the conversation is all about cost savings, efficiency, programme optimisation, risk reduction and compliance. We spend more time worrying about whether the candidate has the right diplomas, the right credentials and if she is onboarded in the right way.
Big mistake.
Don't misunderstand me. All of those considerations are important, but they also ignore the bigger issue. What we need to do is look at contingent workforce management from the perspective of “What is the effect of an optimised programme on the amount of hires that we push through our company on a day to day basis?”
Which brings me to...
Should You Be Worried About Your Candidate Experience?
By now, you may be wondering if this is even an issue your company should worry about.
After all, you work for a great company, so your candidate experience has to be top notch right?
Maybe not.
Here's an illuminating statistic: nearly 60% of candidates have had a poor candidate experience and 72% of them shared that experience online or with someone directly.
Think about it like this: in our example above, 249 candidates didn't get the good news that they were hired. Using that 60% figure, 149 of those candidates will have a poor experience and 107 of them will tell someone.
If 6 out of 10 candidates are having a poor experience, why aren't companies doing anything about it? Why aren't companies soliciting feedback directly from candidates?
There are many reasons for this trend, but in my experience, I think companies are scared. They're afraid that they don't have the processes unified, they're afraid they don't have in their DNA that they're working with people and because of that, this whole candidate experience is actually very important.
Ultimately, companies realise they should find out what candidates think about their experience, but are afraid to know it because the results might show them things that they don't want to know.
We have talked about Steve, a fictional developer I invented to make a point, but I've seen real-life examples where companies make the same mistake. A company who has a good brand name rapidly declines because in the market – especially one driven by suppliers, in the high volume areas —word spreads fast about candidate experience.
When I worked on the supplier side, we had certain companies in the region where I was active where people simply said, "No, you don't have to discuss with me a job requisition at that company because I never hear feedback and I've tried there at least 20 times. They always reject me; I don't know why, so I don't even want to work there." With talent scarcer than ever, obviously, this is something you don't want to happen.
How to Create a Better Candidate Experience: Treat Your Candidates Like People
The good news is that the fix for a poor candidate experience isn't rocket science. In fact, it can be summed up in 5 simple words: Treat your candidates like people.
Of course, the specifics will vary, as every situation is unique. One rule of thumb is to use VMS to ensure there is a unified process that takes into account that you're working with human beings. Trust me, when you work from a perspective that you are working with people that are generally interested in a position at your company, your results will improve. Here are 4 ways VMS helps you create a unified process and helps you improve your candidate experience:
  1. Having a VMS not only allows you to create an efficient process, but it also allows you to actually make sure that you get feedback to all of these candidates that actually have replied by suppliers, or are looking at new sourcing channels to make sure they at least get a notification with a short reason as to why they're not being hired.
  2. VMS also optimises the whole process. For example, you can send out a notification if you are interested in this job. You can block particular calendar dates because that is when interviews are being scheduled. In other words, vendor management can help make your process very efficient.
  3. A VMS also helps to make sure that once the candidate comes onboard, they are capable of starting to work on Day 1. This means they will have access to the buildings. They'll have login details, security equipment, etcetera. This not only reduces idle time from the employee, it also reduces risk (like a coworker sharing their login details with the new employee as a workaround), and shows respect to the candidate who receives a royal welcome on their first day.
  4. When you use VMS, the big benefit is that you have everything in one system. Everything is in one repository that the system allows you to track. So, like in our earlier example, if one candidate is being chosen, that automatically means others are not being chosen. VMS can force you to give a reason why that specific candidate is not chosen. Or, even better, you can actually build a “sticky relationship” with silver and bronze medalists. These are very qualified candidates that had the bad luck of having an even more qualified candidate in front of them. When you capture the number two and number three candidate, you can directly reach out to these people about new job openings that might come up which saves you time.
What does all of this mean to you?
In terms of candidate experience, you accomplish two important things:
  • You guarantee that nobody will “fall out of the boat”, meaning everyone is notified somewhere in the process and you capture needed candidate data.
  • You also allow people or suppliers to learn and adjust from the type of candidates that are not good enough. It allows a supplier to go back to the actual candidate and say, “We received a notification from this company where we proposed you on a job position. You weren't qualified enough because your background doesn't fit 100% (or whatever the reason may be).”
Even though candidates receive a negative answer in terms of not being selected, the good news is, at least they received an answer. In a world where 65% of candidates say they never or rarely receive notice of the decision made on their application, a bad answer is better than no answer. Especially when candidates who are not informed of status or decisions on their application are 3.5X less likely to apply to that company again.
I've worked too long on the supplier side and have had to tell too many candidates, “I can see that the job position is no longer open, so that means you're not being selected. Don't ask me for a reason because frankly, I don't know.” This is a horrible story to tell someone.
It all comes back to the candidate experience.

Is your candidate experience helping or hurting your business? Remember, you need to do everything you can to get talent into your building instead of sending them off to your competition.