Improving the Candidate Experience

So you are a recruiter with a job search to fill an opening at your company.  With so many applicants applying for the job, is it really important that the candidate experience is a positive one?  I mean, only one of these people will actually get the job so how important can it be to make all these other people satisfied?

Experts are agreeing in great numbers that the candidate experience says more about the culture of a company than even direct customer interactions.  Even if you are one of the many that never get an interview, or land up not getting an offer after several interviews, your impression should at least be a positive one as to how you were treated as a human being.

  • Retail and Restaurants cater to all humans they can.  So if while applying for a job at Sears you are treated as a valuable person, with respect, honesty and importance can you not be left to believe that the same would happen if you were a customer?  Need at new washing machine, hum, let’s check out Sears first.
  • The medical world is supposed to care for people, so what kind of impression is left with a potential patient if as an applicant your time is not valued, or you are left to wonder what is going on with an application.  For most people, that kind of applicant experience would drive you into another medical provider’s practice quickly.
  • Today Federal, State and Local Governments have a vast amount of people working for them.  Jobs are varied and come with competitive salaries and often better benefits than the private sector.  So what would prompt say a country HR function to treat applicants with respect?  How about the fact that they realize they owe their jobs to the taxpayers.  The very same people who are often applicants.

Recently I have applied at a few interesting opportunities and have been left with varied positive and negative experiences.  My worst was an online application process that took a solid hour to complete.  Yes, this group wanted a lot of details about every part of me.  Seconds after submitting the online application I received the standard email acknowledgement that my application had been received.  Less than 30 minutes later I received a form letter email that they were looking to other applicants.  My guess was that they saw too much experience and made a lot of assumptions and kicked me out of the pipeline.  (And that’s a whole other story we should talk about another time)

This company took less time to evaluate me than it took to provide them the requested information.  What does that tell me about how they evaluate other things like quality control or attention to detail.  This applicant experience left me with nothing but a desire to pass on them as a service provider in the future.  I will seek out other competitors before I become a customer of theirs.

Now a few weeks back I applied for a really cool opportunity with a county agency and another long application.  The automatic email did more than acknowledge my application, it set expectations of the review process.  In fact, it provided an invitation to contact a specific person if I had not heard back in the given time.  However, this was not necessary as this person sent me an email this morning with an update on their process, what to expect next and then a surprising note thanking me for the time I spent applying for the job.  Wow!  Someone took the time to empathize with the applicant!

This governmental group showed me, didn’t just talk about it, but demonstrated their accountability.  Just the kind of working environment I would thrive in, but more importantly, that they were accountable to the taxpayers paying their salaries.  So far a very impressive candidate experience!


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