Getting Back to the Basics with the Candidate Experience #thecandidate

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The Candidate Experience

So we know that a great candidate experience, or at least a good one, is becoming increasingly more of a business imperative, right?  I suspect there are few HR professionals that, at least on the surface, would argue against the need to treat candidates well and communicate throughout the application and interview process.  Actual execution of a good candidate experience may be up for debate, but from a conceptual perspective, most of us would agree that it’s a necessity.  If you are an HR practitioner and you don’t believe so, well, you’re missing an opportunity and probably turning off some great applicants too.

For our purposes here, I’m going to refer to candidate experience as the basics – not ideas such as implementing technology solutions that provide candidates with instant status updates or specific feedback to all candidates.  These approaches are great if you have the means to get them established and use them, but not all of us have those means.  What I’m referring to is simply responding in a somewhat timely basis to applicants who have expressed interest in your company or in a specific position, communicating throughout the process for anyone who advances to any stage of the interview process, and promptly notifying all candidates of their status upon making a decision and offer.  The true basics and the steps that, unfortunately, are too often forgotten in the rush to fill a position

A good candidate experience is essential for any business that wishes to maintain any sort of positive reputation among job seekers.  But what happens when your organization is a retailer or service organization, one whose customer base is the general public and not just a specific segment of the population?  Does that make a good candidate experience even more critical?

The recent CareerBuilder 2013 Candidate Behavior Study referenced the fact that job seekers who never hear back from a potential employer are likely to stop buying products or services from that company.  Combine that with the statistic that 62% of jobseekers feel that companies are not responsive enough, and that adds up to a whole lot of potential lost business.  It’s also a generally accepted fact that dissatisfied customers will tell twice as many people about that experience than a satisfied one.  So now we have 62% of jobseekers who don’t feel they were treated well enough telling twice as many people about a company’s lack of attention than if they had a good experience.

I understand first hand how difficult it can be to stay on top of every applicant you receive, especially when you’re inundated with unsolicited applications.  Sometimes when you’re working with a lean staff it can seem nearly impossible.  But there’s no excuse for not at least expending some effort on candidates for actual posted positions.  Someone who has taken the time to apply for a specific position (qualified or not) deserves some sort of follow up.  But I know from the grateful responses I’ve personally received back from rejected candidates that such courtesies do not happen consistently.  It’s mind boggling to me to hear from candidates who were brought in for an in-person interview that it’s rare to receive some sort of acknowledgment after the interview process.  Why would you neglect these individuals who took the time to express interest in your company and time out of their schedules to speak with you in person?

When you are a retailer or service organization, customer service extends beyond what happens at the point of purchase or point of service.  Customers who also apply for positions at your company will talk about that experience the same way they will talk about their customer service experiences.  And if we as HR professionals are ignoring that, we are doing a disservice to our companies and potentially negatively impacting business results.  Those candidates may not be the right fit for a role in my organization, but I’d certainly still like to retain them as customers.

How’s that for HR having the ability to contribute to overall business success?

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Jennifer Payne


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