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What Makes or Breaks Your Candidate Experience?

By now we’ve all seen the 2013 Gallup report on employee engagement, The State of the American Workplace. Words that come to mind when I re-read the report:  bummer, disheartening, bad news.  But I also wonder: what exactly did we expect? Look around you, managers, and you’ll see disengaged employees with the Zombie stare, some with the sour look of the disappointed, a few with the overly positive, can-do smile, trying desperately to make things work. A lot of this is the fault of a poor connection between managers and line-of-business employees and it inevitably trickles into a broken recruitment and communication process with potential candidates. The good news? We can change these statistics. It’s in your power to take control of your recruiting process and employer brand. The truth is most job seekers are looking for more than salary when they decide to apply to work at your company.
Smart lunch

Can employee disengagement and bad branding be prevented? Can HR and Leaders learn to bring people back to productivity? Absolutely. Will it be tough? You know it. Will it be worth it? Yes, a thousand times. How do you start? Let’s take a closer look at employer brand.  Are you true to it in your hiring and recruiting process? How your employees represent the company’s mission and brand is as important as anything Leaders or HR says in the hiring process. Make sure the stories align well and is accurately reflecting your current brand and the overall mission.

Then look at the employee experience – What employees do everyday, the actions they take, and how they perceive the actions of their managers and top management.  As Blue Ocean Strategy Institute co-directors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne suggest in this month’s Harvard Business Review, focusing on the acts and activities of management and employees is critical to understanding how a company operates. Actions, as our moms have told us, do speak louder than words, and in the world of work they separate good managers, and great companies and truthful branding, from the mediocre. My latest piece on provides more information on just how much technology is changing in the world of work for leaders and hiring practitioners around the globe.

Then look at how you’re hiring: think candidate experience.  Do you force job seekers through a maze-like microsite for career opportunities, then fail to acknowledge their applications with an email or letter (spoiler alert: approximately 70% of hiring companies are in this camp)?  Do you put people through tests and five phone screens, then never follow up? If so, you’re doing damage to your brand. Smart companies know better: they’ve begun to adopt new technologies to streamline the hiring process: video, digital interviews, social recruiting and more.

A few more things can make or break employer brand and candidate experience:

Communicate throughout the process. If you do a phone screen, give feedback.  If a candidate comes to your career site, acknowledge the visit with an email explaining your hiring process. Technology is available now to make these steps easy; there’s no reason not to do it, unless you want to damage your brand.

Think like a candidate. Another timeless reminder: treat others as you’d like to be treated. This Golden Rule is especially important if you want to ensure good candidate experience. And why wouldn’t you?

Be a person first, an HR manager second. People want to deal with people. Make your hiring process as personal as you can. You’re not dealing with robots (just yet at least).

Set expectations. This is part of the communications process but it deserves a call-out. Don’t leave people hanging; let them know what your process is, when they can expect to hear back, how quickly you’re planning to make a decision.

Candidate experience is a two way street. Make sure yours is good and true to your brand, or you are setting the brand up for damage both upfront in the recruiting process and to your internal employees and stakeholders. It’s easier to maintain a good reputation than it is to rebuild it. Employer brand and candidate experience are linked, and they matter greatly to recruit and retain your talent.


Meghan M Biro Talks TalentThis article was written by Meghan M. Biro from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Learn more about SmartRecruiters, the only platform managers and candidates love.

Ryan Salerno