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When it comes to Candidate Experience, is the tide turning in the recruitment industry? It certainly seems so. Recruiters are becoming more and more concerned about measuring and improving it. The recruitment process can no longer be a black box for candidates. In the age of Glassdoor and wildfire social media, a candidate’s negative experience applying for a job can cost a company applicants but also affect their bottom line. Take the often-discussed case which did the rounds on LinkedIn about how bad Candidate Experience cost Virgin Media over 4 million pounds annually. The calculation was fairly straightforward. If there were 123,000 rejected candidates each year, and 6% canceled their monthly Virgin Media subscription because of bad Candidate Experience, you end up with about 7,500 cancellations. Multiply that by the £50 subscription fee and by 12 months. There are more reasons to support the relevance of Candidate Experience in today's world, and it doesn’t take a lot to see that lost business because of bad CandE is costly. Candidates are also customers. Unhappy candidates mean unhappy customers. Quite simple.

What’s the recruitment industry saying about Candidate Experience?

In our partner Bullhorn’s 2018 report on Staffing and Recruiting Trends there are two very interesting findings with implications for CandE. Among the HR and recruitment specialists surveyed:

  • The talent shortage ranks as the #1 challenge for staffing professionals in 2018.
  • Candidate referrals rank as the #1 source of high-quality candidates.

What does this tell us? Recruiters need to provide increasingly good Candidate Experience to stand out. When talent is scarce, you need to make sure your candidate journey is watertight and you don’t leave candidates in the dark about their status. Only then can you expect high-quality candidate referrals. No candidate will refer you to others if they’ve had a bad experience with you.  

Whose responsibility is Candidate Experience?

The Bullhorn report also raised a crucial question relating to responsibility. Who is responsible for the way your candidates experience the hiring process? The jury is out. Forty-eight percent said individual recruiters are responsible, and 45 percent say it’s a shared responsibility. Bullhorn said they side with the 45, arguing that “delivering a truly rewarding Candidate Experience is something the whole firm contributes to, regardless of who’s on the front lines with candidates.” Here at Starred, we’d tend to agree. What’s interesting to note here is that if there’s no clear consensus on who is responsible for Candidate Experience, the risk of fingerpointing becomes high. Improving Candidate Experience cannot start and end with the one person a candidate is familiar with. In consumer industries, the idea of measuring and improving Customer Experience is already years ahead. Using metrics such as Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score, and then finding the drivers of that score, allows for data-driven improvement. Feedback is essential to know if you’re on the right track with your customers. Recruiters need to catch up. A solo recruiter can’t implement a firm-wide feedback solution that benchmarks candidate satisfaction (and also client satisfaction!).

You can only really learn how to improve the Candidate Experience by asking candidates themselves. Recruiters will already be familiar with thinking of their process as a funnel or a Candidate Journey with many different touchpoints. Start from the beginning: let’s say candidates say that applying for your role is difficult - perhaps the user experience online isn’t applicant-friendly. You’re already off to a rocky start. Your designers and operations figures are more on point here than individual recruiters. How about your online branding? Not many companies have whole teams dedicated to Employer Branding. In terms of getting your candidate’s experience off to a great start, you want them engaged with your brand. Marketing and HR teams will have to be on the same page with this. You won’t be able to mobilize any of these people without the data to back it up. What if the majority of your candidates struggle to even get to the stage of submitting their CV? What if they encounter your tremendously well-defined branding materials, and then face an application portal which feels like it was last optimized for Windows 95? How about your interview stages? What if you asked your candidates about the people they spoke to, the different experiences they had with your team. You’re going to have very specific feedback for your individual recruiters, hiring managers, and colleagues involved in the process. Again, these challenges are bigger than any single recruiter can tackle on their own.

Making a success of Candidate Experience: being systematic

Recruiters need to be systematic to find out what’s going right and wrong in their Candidate Experience. Get feedback and make sure it’s automated. All you need to do is ask - which applicant in your funnel worth their salt isn’t going to take the opportunity to respond when asked for their opinion? They want a job! They’ve taken the time and effort to apply and go through your process. There’s no need to run giant surveys and dangle Amazon gift vouchers in front of your candidate. Feedback can be bite-sized and directly relevant to Candidate Experience at any particular stage. The insights you’ll earn will tell you in whose shop the improvements need to be made. That way you’ll avoid finger-pointing - if Candidate Experience is as serious an undertaking as all the reports say, and the business impact of not acting on it is as costly as the Virgin case paints it, then there’s only one way forward: turn candidate opinion into data and act on it. One of our clients Altus Staffing - a successful recruitment company - now runs training for their consultants based on feedback data. This way trainings can be hyper-specific to an individual recruiter and how they can improve Candidate Experience. Smart thinking. What’s your opinion on this? Where does the buck stop with Candidate Experience? What are the Recruitment Trends going to show next year?

 Read more about Candidate Experience on Starred: Why feedback is the gamechanger in building a great Candidate JourneyHow to apply NPS to Candidate Experience

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