SmartRecruiters Blog

Put the Candidate Experience First

There is a lot of talk about the candidate experience. It’s a very popular topic. I just spoke at a SHRM conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma about social recruiting and the candidate experience. Although I am not a recruiter or a practitioner, I am an HR professional who has had to look for work and coach others on their job search. I wonder, when was the last time you applied for a job online? Online job searches are supposed to be quick, efficient and painless – too often they are anything but. It seems the candidate experience is horribly broken.

The candidate experience is the process in which you treat your applicants from the beginning, to the interview, the negotiation period, the training program, the onboarding process and it even covers the rejection process – yes the way you handle the reject applicants is just as important as the way you treat the ones you accept. Today social media word of mouth and sharing can ruin your reputation, so if you treat applicants poorly, the good ones will not apply to your company and you will get 2nd or 3rd tier talent.

Recently read a great article, “Where did the ‘Human’ in Human Resources go?” It’s the story of an HR professional who is now on the other side of the process looking for a job. The experience is eye opening to say the least.

For awhile now, I have understood that my strength as an HR consultant was that I have an objective view of our “so called” processes and procedures. Meaning, I knew from experience that the job processes that most HR practitioners and recruiters promoted as simple and easy, where actually cumbersome and frustrating.

HR pros need to actually apply for a job with their own companies in order to see if it’s as easy as they thought.

There are certain big brands who have such a positive reputation that they don’t have to invest in the candidate experience yet they do, because they know how important it is to their culture and business model. Think about companies like Disney, Pixar, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, and Facebook. They are all big names and they have no shortage or applicants per open position. Maybe you’re not as big as those guys but you can still treat your applicants as if you are.  It’s a fact that if a job applicant has a tough time accessing and engaging with your career site, completing the application or is treated badly during the process – they won’t continue it and they  will warn others.

If it takes 30 minutes to apply for your job – you will have a high abandonment rate and you won’t be happy with level of talent you receive.

In March and April of 2014, there were 192,000 and 288,000 jobs added respectively to the U.S. economy. They unemployment rate is down to 6.3%. What that means for you, is more competition for jobs. Jobseekers have options so they no longer have to spend all day applying for a job with you and your company and wait for around for a reply.

There are a few of you who have simple job application processes – a push of a button or a simple download of the resume. However way too many of you are still requiring too much information along with creating an account for some sort of recruiters/ATS network. If you put the candidate experience first you will see a more viable talent pool, better word or mouth and interest in your company and a smoother overall recruiting process – just try it.


chris fieldsChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes and blogs. His work can be found at, & Photo Credit Monica flickr.

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Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.