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Six Tips for Improving Your Candidate Experience to Attract Top Talent

Posted on: May 2, 2017

Category: Hiring

By Tracy Chandonnet, Manager of Organizational Development & Greg Whitesell, Marketing Director

Since 2012, unemployment has taken a steady dive across the nation.  The Charlotte region is no exception, falling from 7.2% in April 2012 to 4.9% presently according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That percentage is even lower for degreed professionals.  For employers, these numbers correlate to a decline in the number of active job seekers.  With fewer people actively looking for work, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to focus on strategies for attracting those who are.  While this is true across the nation, let’s explore our situation here in Charlotte a bit more.

The Queen City is currently one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country, recently ranking 19th on Forbes’ 2017 list of Fastest Growing US Cities, 14th on US News & World Report’s “Best Places to Live in the US” and 10th on Penske’s list of the nation’s top moving destinations.  Home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, Charlotte’s employers rely heavily on degreed professionals to keep them on top.  Although new talent is moving to the area at accelerated levels, employers are also faced with the reality of retiring baby boomers (nationwide, roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age daily according to Pew Research.)  Additionally, the buzz about Charlotte is attracting more employers to the area and encouraging those already here to expand their operations.

What does this all mean to Charlotte employers?  Essentially this – fewer active job seekers plus more jobs available in Charlotte plus retiring boomers equals increased demand for quality candidates.  This increased demand, in turn, is making talent acquisition an urgent focus area for Charlotte employers.  Since first impressions are everything, now more than ever, the candidate experience needs to take center stage for employers.

What exactly is a “Candidate Experience” and how does a company go about creating a stellar one?  Simply put, the term describes how an employer treats a candidate from the moment they apply (these days, generally online), through the interview process and even into initial onboarding.  As for creating a stellar one, let’s first explore what not to do.  A recent Software Advice survey asked respondents to share causes of bad candidate experiences as it relates to the online application process.  Some of their key takeaways included:

  • Unclear application processes were cited by 93% of respondents
  • Extremely time-consuming applications were just as bad for 90% of those surveyed
  • Another 90% were turned off by job descriptions that weren’t up to par
  • Communication throughout the process is a must to avoid negative perceptions

Keeping these things in mind, we’ve come up with six tips to help employers improve their candidate experience.  When properly planned and executed, a good candidate experience can help employers land the talent they need and can drive a positive perception of the company overall, even among candidates they don’t extend offers to (it’s worth noting that more and more employers are re-engaging with previously interviewed candidates who might not have been a fit the first time, but could be on the second go around).  Building that positive brand perception can be invaluable – so here’s our six tips to get started:

  1. Fine tune the application process. In a recent Careerbuilder study 54% of HR professionals stated that their application took longer than 20 minutes to fill out.  The same study showed that 9 out of 10 candidates felt applications should take less than 10 minutes and 80 percent felt like it should take no more than 20.  Well – there’s a quandry to say the least.  Consider this:  How easy and efficient is your application process?  Better yet, go online and go through your application process, taking notice of how long it takes, how frustrating it was or wasn’t and how it could be simplified. 
  2. Communicate during the application process. Don’t let candidates experience the “Black Hole” when submitting a resume online.  Of the 11 issues noted on the Software Advice survey, 8 of them referenced some sort of communication failure.  Even if your response is automated, at least make candidates feel noticed by letting them know you received their application.
  3. Communicate during the hiring process. A bit of an extension of tip 2, but once a candidate has been moved forward, it’s vital to make sure they know exactly what the job entails, who will be involved in the interview process, a timeline, and appropriate point of contact.
  4. Have an onboarding plan and stick to it. SHRM notes that 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days.  To avoid being included in that statistic, the successful candidate should be greeted on day 1 with a plan for acquiring the skills they need, learning company processes and other key information such as “go to” people within the organization.
  5. Ask for post-hire feedback. The best way to improve your candidate experience is to ask for feedback from those who lived it.  Getting their insight can help you figure out where improvements can be made.  Extending this into their early employment period can also help you gauge how they are feeling about the role and mitigate the odds of quick turnover.
  6. Don’t wait.  If the current trends continue, the war for talent will become increasingly competitive.  Developing and implementing a candidate experience that sets your organization apart can be a vital.

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