SmartRecruiters Blog

How to Deliver a Great Candidate Experience Before They Even Apply

The global talent shortage is at an all-time high: 77% of employers globally report difficulty finding the skilled talent they need in 2023, versus 35% a decade earlier. To attract more candidates, companies are not just investing in strategic job advertising; they’re investing in every aspect of the candidate experience, including all the steps leading to filling out an application.

LinkedIn research shows that 64% of global talent professionals predict that the future of recruiting will be more favorable to candidates and employees (as opposed to employers) over the next five years. In this post, we’ll explore ways that companies can offer a great experience to candidates on their journey prior to clicking the “apply” button.

A Candidate-Centric Career Site

A career site is more than PR; it should provide information that helps candidates learn about what it’s like to work at your company and what they can expect after they apply. A strong career site brings your employer value proposition to life with relevant visuals and strong company branding. It lists your mission and values and indicates how they play out in daily work. 

  • 77% of global workers feel a company’s values and purpose (including sustainability, diversity, and transparency) are important when selecting an employer.
  • 60% of in-house recruiting pros predict their employer branding investments will increase this year.

By letting candidates explore written, visual, and video content, you enable them to self-select. The goal is not to convince all candidates to apply, but the right candidates, the ones who can see themselves working for your company long-term. The site can also help candidates know what to expect by listing answers to frequently asked questions about the application and interview process.

On a technical level, a candidate-centric career site shows up in Google search results for queries related to your company and topics relevant to your roles. It makes it easy to find and filter jobs, remembers repeat visitors, and delivers personalized, contextually relevant content. It’s mobile-friendly. Essentially, it’s taken everything into account that a candidate needs when they’re searching for jobs and applies technology to meet those needs.

Candidate-Friendly Job Descriptions

Job descriptions have the potential to turn candidates off if they use unnecessary jargon,  non-inclusive terminology, or meaningless metaphors (e.g., “young and energetic” or “rockstar”). The job description should accurately represent the company, the duties of the role, and the required skills and qualifications. A skills-based job description is a good framework to use because it emphasizes the skills actually needed by the candidate to do the job.

Even if pay transparency is not required in your location, it’s a good idea to include it in job descriptions. You will win over candidates who are looking for a salary in the advertised range, and enable those who want to earn more to look elsewhere. Just be realistic; a statement like “The overall market range for roles in this area of the company is typically $100,000 – $700,000” is not necessarily helpful to candidates.

Don’t forget to list the role’s expected hours and location. If there are shift options, say so. If there is flexibility, indicate how much. If it is hybrid, delineate the current on-site expectations. Many candidates need to balance school or caregiving responsibilities with work, and clearly written information will help them decide if the role is right for them.

Build Relationships with Candidates

In an era of record-low unemployment rates, recruiters recognize that their main competition is the candidate’s current employer. Inviting candidates to join a talent community helps companies develop relationships over time and takes the pressure off the application process. Relationships with candidates can be initiated in several ways:

  • Offline. Recruiting events, career fairs, and print/outdoor advertising are common ways to engage with candidates. Using QR codes that open on a unique, trackable URL that invites them to an application or a recruiting CRM helps candidates indicate their interest without even picking up a pen.
  • Social media: Some companies host social media channels dedicated to employment, or regularly use social media to talk about what it’s like to work at their company. They also celebrate company wins, recent innovations, and philanthropic activity. All of this information adds up to keep the company relevant in the mind of the candidate.
  • CRM. Both offline advertising and social media can be used to direct potential candidates to a CRM. Candidates can also join the CRM from the website—a perfect solution for those who are interested in the company but don’t see a current open role that fits. From the CRM, companies can deliver news via email about recent activities and innovations, further building the candidate relationship. 

Remember that relationships are built over time, and need trust to grow. The career site, candidate-friendly job descriptions, and relationship-building activities delivered through a CRM all add up to building trust by giving candidates the information they need to apply when the time is right.

Lee Ann Prescott

Content marketing lead for SmartRecruiters