I was talking with a friend and former client the other day when our conversation turned to The Candidate Experience.
“Sort of a funny phrase, when you think about it” he said. “After all, isn’t the hiring process the candidate experience?? Why separate it out from that which it was meant to be to begin with?”
“Maybe,” I recall musing, “The reason we separate it out is because so many companies do such a poor job of focusing on the candidate at all.” I thought about it a little bit. To a degree, he had a point – the hiring process is what the candidate experiences. Some of it they see directly; others they just feel the impact as they shuffle along the road – waiting – for that offer to arrive (or not).
Truthfully, I think that’s it. Overall, across companies and industries, Human Resources has done a rather shoddy job historically of treating candidates like a valued commodity, or true “talent” they profess to be warring over. If I had to put a finger on it; it seems like many companies don’t ‘discover’ value in the candidate at all until they’re about to put together an offer – and then, my friends, is a little late in the game to begin. Putting that aside for a moment, those who don’t get to the offer stage are left with little- to no- question as to just how much they’re “worth” to employers… a clear message is sent when they simply disappear from view. No warning, no follow-up… just nothing. [Editor's Note: Always Value the Candidate's Time. Reply to All Applicants.]
It should be of little surprise that I think social media has made it to where there’s basically no excuse for this sort of experience. I actually thought there was little reason for that experience even before social media hit the scene; but there’s just too many ways to create some stellar candidate experiences with social media that if there WERE an excuse before? It’s certainly gone now. Let’s start at the beginning:
What IS “Candidate Experience??”
Simply speaking, the ‘candidate experience’ is derived from perception. The Candidate Experience is the sum of the perceptions a candidate through every interaction they’ve had with your brand, product, employees, communications… it’s the overall quality of their experience with your organization. If you’re a company dedicated to creating a positive experience, you’re likely scrutinizing every email, phone call, face-to-face interaction, the design of your process, etc. That’s great… but your candidate? Is likely to look at things a little more simplistically.
“How did they make me feel??”
Truthfully, there’s a lot of components that goes into that statement; but that’s what it boils down to. Candidates want to feel good about what they’re going into and be made to feel like they mattered… even if not ultimately selected. There’s been a lot written about how we’ve failed to do that or the process-driven side of candidate experience; let’s focus on practical things we do (or should) that maybe we could amp up - just a bit - to increase the candidate experience:
Accept that Social is an Advantage in the Candidate Experience, and Leverage It:
- Don’t be stingy with Social Connections. Most companies already connect the recruiters and sometimes the hiring manager with the candidate on LinkedIn. But why not go a step further and connect other levels of the organization to the candidate as well?
- Share your company’s social footprint. Show where they can find information about your company – good and bad (if it’s out there), and be ready to talk through it with them. Candidates will often find out some about you online. But this is your story; share it with them in your words so that the story is more than what they have come across on their own.
- Connect on multiple platforms. Lead your candidates to your Facebook pages at the beginning of the process and encourage them to interact with others that have “liked” the page AND with employees you’ve also encouraged to participate on the page. Plus, they can see all the available jobs on your company Facebook page.
- Break-up the “quiet abyss.” We’ve all be there – in the middle of a process that’s a little lengthier than we’d like… with No. Update. From. The. “Home Camp.” It’s frustrating – and the largest complaint I’ve consistently heard when talking with candidates. Social media offers you the opportunity to drop a little line through direct message, inmail, or FB message to a candidate letting them know something you appreciated in their interview, or a strength they have, or just that you (or they) aren’t lost in the abyss. You can make note of the interaction in the ATS to maintain compliance with your company’s policy and complete record-keeping.
- Use Social to Build a Relationship. I save this for last because I believe this is the most important benefit of social in the Candidate Experience. No one says, nor expects, you to come out of the other side of the hiring process as “besties” with those you have recruited along the way; but the fact remains that true “networks” come from forming the basis of ongoing acquiantance with our candidates: providing value when we’re unable to hire, letting them know they were heard, letting them know your time is valuable and well .. being … friendly. Interact with candidates at regular intervals by responding to/re-tweeting something that catches your eye on Twitter, and congratulating their good news that they broadcast over social media. These are the things that pay back in spades in the long-run & show off that you are who you claimed to be in the hiring process!
Social Media has given us the opportunity to stay connected with candidates and show a much needed “humanized” side to what’s often a cold and rigid process. By leveraging the opportunities it provides, we not only improve the candidate experience – “Socially Speaking, of course;” but we improve our company’s lasting relational networks, as well. And that’s a “win-win” proposition that’s worth tapping into!
Crystal Miller creates great Talent Marketing and Social Recruitment Programs at M3 Talent Consulting in Dallas. As an advocate for proactive social media in recruiting, she works as the Co-Host of #TalentNet weekly Radio Chat on Twitter/Focus w/ Talent Net Live. Crystal believes, “Candidate first.”
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