THE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE – WHAT REALLY MATTERS.
As an applicant, don’t you want to feel like a number, like one of many, or even be ignored entirely? Oh, how wonderful that would be, because that’s what the optimal candidate experience looks like – well, of course not.
Far too often, companies still have standard phrases in their so proudly established automated applicant tools and the workflow of uploading the application is unnecessarily complicated. You have to find your way around and click through a lot of steps, filling in a lot of fields with information that is included in the resume anyway.
The candidate market has largely developed in such a way that the candidate sets the tone, and as is well known, the sound makes the music. A successful candidate experience is therefore more important than ever.
AN IDEAL CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
According to GfK Statistika (2018), the most important factors for the current working generations include a good working atmosphere as well as the salary factor and opportunities for personal development. In addition, applicants want more responsibility in their jobs and a shorter commute. If you look back in time a good 20 years, completely different values were important back then.
But now we have arrived in the 20s of the 21st century and even companies with a strong employer brand and great benefits find themselves in the war for talents. Often, trendy applicant portals or social media strategies are no longer of any help.
Therefore, companies should also rethink their strategies, adapt them to the different target groups and align their values accordingly in order to retain employees in the long term and thus create a win-win situation for both sides. It all starts with the first contact, usually before the recruiting process even really begins. This is because all the impressions and experiences that applicants gather during the entire application process (including pre-boarding, onboarding and the probationary period) shape their general perception of the company.
BUT HOW DO YOU GUARANTEE THE BEST POSSIBLE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE?
There are classic models for this, such as the “6 Phases of the candidate experience”, modified from the AIDA sales model, which is over 100 years old and still tried and tested, developed by the American marketing specialist Elmo Lewis. Accordingly, the candidate experience should go hand in hand with the motto that not customers but applicants are “king”.
CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE – ATTRACTING ATTENTION
The first phase is about attracting the candidate’s attention to the company. This could be done through all kinds of advertising, an interesting or even provocative campaign that gets stuck in people’s heads, but also through an appearance at, for example, a recruiting event or a trade fair.
CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE – DELIVERING INFORMATION
The second phase is about the resulting prospects gathering further information about the company and possible job offers. Here the enterprise can show itself from its best however caution – please also realistic – side. Because with much “appearance however without being”, one wins good candidates only for a short time, whereby in the final result more costs than use are caused.
CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE – FROM INTERESTED PARTIES TO APPLICANTS
If the information was interesting and appealing enough, the third phase ideally turns interested parties into applicants. Companies should make sure that their applicant tools are easy to use and easy to understand. It sounds banal, but personal contact persons should be named. Here, you quickly run the risk that candidates will drop out again if the company is not accessible and the application process raises too many questions or takes too much time.
THE JOURNEY OF THE CANDIDATES HAS THUS BEGUN
Now it all depends on how the candidates perceive the following steps of the application process. It should go without saying that candidates should be treated courteously. In addition, it should always be kept in mind that candidates could become employees at the end of the fourth phase, namely the selection process.
A good candidate experience is characterized by individual appreciation. Therefore, friendliness and genuine interest in the candidate should be a matter of course throughout the entire process. To ensure this, recruiters should scrutinize their personal attitudes as well as their internal recruiting processes. This includes not only ensuring that the processes are automated in a meaningful way, but also that they do not come at the expense of the candidate experience. In the daily work of recruiters, time is sometimes critical: You work with many departments and stakeholders and often have more than one candidate in the process. This can easily lead to waiting times for decisions. Nevertheless, applicants should always feel valued and kept up to date. Ideally, applicants should also have an individual contact person. Or do you like to feel lost?
WELCOME TO THE TEAM – WHAT MATTERS IN PREBOARDING
Once you have decided on an applicant, preboarding is initiated with a warm “welcome to the team“. This is an important point to be completed before onboarding. The aim here is to ensure that future employees continue to feel well looked after and do not hear nothing from the company until the first day, let alone not know where they have to go on that day. Accordingly, the best practice is to establish contact with managers or colleagues. This could take the form of a buddy program, for example. At best, this first contact should then be used to discuss the further procedure in the first few days of work. If a new employee’s birthday happens to fall during this time, it would be a nice gesture at this point for the team to congratulate them.
CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE – ONBOARDING
This means that nothing stands in the way of a happy start to work with new, motivated employees and the onboarding phase can begin. In this phase, it must be ensured that the employees are warmly welcomed into the new working environment and fully familiarized with the team and the work tasks. Here, too, a direct contact person is of great importance. This person is then available to answer questions and help with integration into the new working environment. This phase quickly confirms whether the company’s external image matches the values it lives by. All the many new impressions are particularly important for the new employees’ sense of well-being. At this point, it becomes clear whether they regret the move to the new company or feel affirmed in their decision. If this is the case, phase 6 follows with the retention of the employees.
CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE MAINTAINING A LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP
Every employer should keep in mind that the maintenance of this phase is an important factor and requires continuity. In this way, nothing stands in the way of an appreciative and long-term partnership – because I would like to be careful not to call it a bond.
THE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE – A MOSAIC OF MANY FACTORS
In summary, individual appreciation is the be-all and end-all and the beginning of a good candidate experience. It is not a question of modern tools or trendy marketing campaigns. In addition, every company should ask itself whether the corporate philosophy with the defined values fits its employees and which culture should be lived through it. After all, what is the point of hiring many more people if the newly acquired employees quickly leave the company again?