the candidate experience: key to employer branding

June 20, 2016 Roop Kaistha

It may sound like common sense, but many organizations still don’t understand the value of the candidate experience in employer branding. The candidate experience has far-reaching repercussions on an employer’s relationship with talent. Not only will a candidate remember a positive or negative experience long after the application process, but their perception will also color how they share with colleagues, friends and family. Furthermore, candidates are also potential consumers of the employer’s products and services. That means the experience could have an impact on the business.

There are two areas in which companies often fall short in their candidate experience efforts: communication and measurement. The first is a chronic problem that employers have inadequately addressed for many years.' Candidates have long complained about their applications going into a “black box,” never to see the light of day again. Even though most organizations are aware of this, many still have not remedied the problem.

As competition for talent grows, companies must fix this gap. Most candidates already have some kind of relationship with a prospective employer (according to the “2015 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report”), and they may have second thoughts about engaging a company with whom they previously had a bad experience. The Talent Board found that candidates who had a positive experience with a company were twice as likely to apply again in the future, than with companies where they had a negative experience.

measurement and accountability

Just as important, organizations still don’t regularly measure their candidate experience and hold recruiters accountable for poor outcomes. Without clarity on where their process excels and where it struggles, employers won’t be able to make improvements. The Talent Board’s research on this is clear: among its 50 top-ranked companies in 2015, 46% measure and incorporate results into their recruiters’ dashboard; only 35% of the rank and file companies do so.

Some standouts lead the pack in how they track performance, including companies such as Capital One, which told the Talent Board the candidate experience is at the forefront of how recruiters are measured. Others like AT&T examine key metrics, such as frequency of communication to candidates, how long a particular process takes to complete, whether candidates are waiting for AT&T to provide additional information and more.

These are the questions that organizations need to ask and measure on a regular basis if they want to create a positive and engaging candidate experience. Yet they still don’t. In fact, according to the Talent Board, the percentage of companies monitoring their performance is slightly down from 2014 when 48% of leaders and 38% of rank and file measured their progress

how to create a better brand

So how can you overcome the chronic gaps that plague most companies? By keeping these key tips in mind, and measuring and adjusting your efforts, you ensure a comprehensive and engaging process.

  • Think holistically. The candidate experience doesn’t begin when applications are submitted, nor do they end with a hire. According to the Talent Board, only 16% of companies ask hires for feedback during the onboarding process,.
  • Hold recruiters accountable. They have the most contact with talent, so it’s critical that measures around the candidate experience are part of their performance review.
  • Build triggers in your process. Are candidates clear about their status in the funnel? A monitored and automated communication process triggered by events and dates will keep talent informed and engaged.
  • Transparency is key. Regular communication is critical, but so is transparency. Helping candidates understand the steps in the process is just one important element. Providing access to content about your company, its values and its people will further nurture their trust.
  • Facilitate the application process. Is your process optimized for mobile devices? Can candidates quickly and easily submit their information? Do you make it easy for them to contact you for follow-up questions? If the answer is no, rethink your process.

As you take a closer look at how to boost your employer brand, make sure the candidate experience is a critical part of that examination. Remember, how talent perceives their interaction with your organization will resonate in their minds for some time, so getting this right is important to the long-term success of your talent strategy.

about the author

Roop Kaistha

Roop is regional director for our global Talent Innovation Center and an expert in RPO solutions design supporting Randstad Sourceright's clients in Asia. Roop is experienced in all aspects of recruiting, including sourcing, technology enablement, candidate engagement, client interaction and management approaches, process and workflow, and analytics. It also encompasses solution design and implementation as key building blocks to a successful RPO engagement.

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