Are you scaring talent away?

Prospective employees aren't the only ones who need to make a good first impression.

by Nick Shaw
Last Updated: 18 May 2017

Job candidates know only too well how important it is to make the right impression on a potential employer – it’s the difference between getting the job or not.  Yet, companies are not considering the impression they have on candidates during the hiring process, and it’s giving them a bad rep.

According to a recent CEB study of nearly 4,000 people, one in four candidates report having had a negative recruiting experience during their most recent job search.

The recruiting black hole

Poor communication is the main reason for bad experiences. Our analysis shows that the dissatisfied candidates fell into the ‘recruiting black hole’, which happens when potential employers go silent during the process. Companies fail to acknowledge that CVs and applications have been submitted, do not provide feedback as to how candidates are progressing in the hiring process, or how they performed in interviews.

Worse still, they often fail to let applicants know they have been unsuccessful in securing the job. Even for the lucky few that do progress through the hiring process, are likely to be kept in limbo for around 13 weeks (that’s three months!) before securing the job.

Organisations wouldn’t dream of keeping their customers or prospects in the dark – not responding to a query, ignoring a proposal request or failing to get in contact about a delayed order – but it frequently happens to job candidates.

First impressions count

The business impact of a poor candidate experience is undervalued and creates significant reputational risks for employer and product brands. One in three candidates tell their friends about their negative recruiting experience, and more often than not will take to social media to vent their dissatisfaction. What is more, one in five candidates will stop using or purchasing products or services from that company altogether.

On the flip side, when companies get the candidate experience right, it has a knock-on effect after the candidate joins the enterprise. New hires apply 15% more discretionary effort and are 38% more likely to stay with the organisation.  Happier employees work harder.

Employers do not set out to upset job candidates, but expectations and technologies have changed, and hiring processes have not kept up. Recruiters are competing head-to-head for the same talent and must improve their candidate experience as a result. However, the lure of novel and entertaining selection methods should be avoided to maintain hiring effectiveness.

There are four things recruiters need to know and do to make the right impression:

1. Job candidates expect a straightforward experience online. People use their mobile device for everything now, from shopping to banking. But job application process is rarely as clear or intuitive. Organisations should ensure that their career sites, application processes and assessments are easy to use and optimised for mobile.
 
2. Candidates want greater transparency. They want to know more about the job they’re applying for and what they need to do to get it. Companies are missing a trick by not providing applicants with more information upfront about the day-to-day requirements of the role and the stages in the hiring process. Setting candidates expectations in advance helps them to make informed decisions about whether it’s the right job for them and whether they should continue or not.
 
3. Job candidates want to give and receive feedback. Having put in time and energy to progress through the hiring stages, jobseekers want to know how they performed, how their qualifications stack up, how they scored on assessments and how they could improve for future opportunities. Companies don’t have to share a full report - simple hints and tips are helpful. Some firms signpost to other jobs openings that the candidate might be more suited to. It is also important to capture candidate feedback routinely to identify issues and understand engagement across the stages in the process.
 
4. Candidates want status updates. There are critical points in the job application process where candidates want to hear from a potential employer. These communications don’t have to be highly personalised, but they do need to be clear, action-oriented and set expectations on the next stage(s). A candidate’s recruiting experience can be greatly enhanced by firms acknowledging when applications have been submitted, assessments fulfilled and interviews completed. Organisations also need to let candidates know if they’ve been successful or not in securing the job.

Nick Shaw is managing director UK and Ireland at CEB, now part of Gartner.

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