• Jack Sharp

Candidate experience: Here’s what not to do

The foundation of the executive search industry is built on outbound marketing tactics. Cold calling, cold emailing and reaching out to people on social media sites are some of the best ways of getting candidates for a job role. Outbound tactics are, of course, a dying form of recruitment. Inbound methods are quickly taking over.

Either way, executive search is built upon approaching people who already have a job, and as a result, the candidate is very much in control. They have little to lose. The small things, then, like candidate experience, make the difference between someone sticking around and taking the plunge to leave their current position, and walking away and continuing on at their current job.

If you want candidates to stick around, here’s what not to do.

Deploy a poor careers page experience

Inbound recruiting is a way of using tactics to attract candidates to your business to apply for a job. These people are already ‘in-market’. As a result, you’ll more likely place a candidate who has come to you because they’re clearly interested in leaving their current role.

Many candidates who come to your business will come through your careers page, or if you’re a recruitment firm, your candidate portal. A poorly developed careers page - one that is clunky, slow and difficult to navigate - will drastically decrease a candidate’s chances of filling in details and getting in touch.

More than half of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a page before exiting. How much can you say in 15 seconds? How simple is your careers page to understand? Do you have a form for potential candidates to fill out so you can get in touch with them? If your careers page is poorly worded or designed without experience in mind, people will go elsewhere. And given the current state of play, people will leave and go to a competitor, and there are many out there.

Let bureaucracy stand in the way

Candidates are unlikely to stick around for you. Anyone with any common sense isn’t putting all of their eggs in your basket, and as a result, time is your greatest enemy to placing a candidate. If your application process is extremely bureaucratic, then, it’s time to streamline your processes.

Red tape is the biggest barrier to candidates completing an application. Lengthy and time consuming job applications are often unnecessary and unspecific to a job role, leaving candidates confused as to why they’re giving so much information up at such an early stage.

By developing a form for candidates, they can tick through an application quickly and still give the same amount of information up. It’s also useful to recruiters, too, because they can shortlist candidates based on data and not qualitative answers, speeding up the process of recruiting overall.

Fail to give feedback

Courtesy is everything. Even if a candidate didn’t make the shortlist or didn’t receive the job, it’s up to you as the recruiter to let them know. But still, 70 percent of employers fail to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates after an interview.

There are many reasons that this is a bad thing (most of them moral), but the biggest business reason is because by failing to give feedback to a candidate, you likely shut the door on them as a candidate forever. If you’re recruiting for a job role and you’re flooded with applications, those who don’t make the cut this time might be perfect for future roles you’re hiring for. By shutting them out and not providing them the courtesy of letting them know they haven’t been successful (and providing them a few reasons why), it means that the next time you recruit for a similar role, you’re back to square one. And most industries are small, which means people might have talked, explaining to their co-workers that they were ‘treated badly’ by your company. Don’t be that bad smell. Think about how you’d feel if you didn’t hear back about a job role, especially after investing so much time into something you believed in.

Treat a candidate like a person, not a number

We’re in a data-driven world, and it’s beautiful. We can collect enough information today to paint a picture of what our business looks like and streamline how we work. We’re capable of becoming efficient machines. We can even closely predict the future using this information.

What we’re failing to do, however, is treat humans as humans. Humanity is quickly lost in a digital world where data is everything. When it comes to the business of people (i.e. recruitment), experience and human interaction is still very prominent. A good candidate experience, then, is built on the foundation of data, but the front-end must be personable and approachable. You must treat candidates like a person, not a number. A good experience sets the tone of a company, don’t fall at the first hurdle.