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Take a moment and think back to the last time you looked for a job. The last time you navigated a company’s career site. The last time you filled out an application and waited patiently for a response. (Okay, maybe you weren’t that patient).

How was the experience? Do you remember feeling frustrated or lost? Could you pinpoint the company’s career page? Did the application have more blanks than a Wheel of Fortune Bonus Puzzle without “RSTLNE” or more instructions than the board game “Risky Settlers Knights and Allies of the Lords’ Dominions of Earth: Pandemic Edition?”

Positive or negative, a candidate’s perception of a company can change based on the application and recruiting process. As recruiters, we can no longer ignore the candidate experience or treat it as an afterthought.

It’s time to make 2015 the year we truly address the candidate experience. We have to put ourselves in the candidate’s shoes and consider every aspect of how the candidate interacts with our company career website, applies for a job and stays up-to-date through the recruiting process—even if you reject his or her application. 

Gone are the days of throwing together a job posting, sticking it on your website or social media pages and sitting around waiting for the applications to pour in like holiday shoppers on Black Friday. That’s not how you land top talent. And it is definitely not how you promote yourself as a desired company people yearn to work for.

What is the candidate experience?

While every potential candidate will have a unique experience with your company, let’s first focus on fundamentals in defining “candidate experience.”

Candidate experience is everything. It is the totality of every interaction and activity between your company and a candidate. This is much more than someone perusing your company career page or applying to a job.

The candidate experience is all encompassing and involves any of the following:

  • Navigating your career site

  • Applying to a job posting

  • Meeting a company representative at a career fair

  • Interacting with employees

  • Going in for an interview

  • Completing the on-boarding process

Every stage of the recruiting process can have a positive or negative effect on the candidate experience and in turn, can have a positive or negative effect on how candidates perceive your company.

“The Experience” perspective

With that in mind, I think we can break down a positive candidate experience based on three ideals:

  1. Clarity and ease of the initial application. 

  2. Keeping the candidate well-informed throughout the recruitment process.

  3. Treating the candidate with respect as a human and not a name on a piece of paper.

Every recruiting move you make as a company should fall in line with these principles the same way your company thinks about the “customer experience” when designing, creating and updating products and services (especially the third one). 

“We had to understand user experience and design products people wanted; and that meant understanding what they needed from an experience perspective,” said Allyn Bailey, Talent Experience, Global TA at 2014 CandE Award-winning company Intel. “Although process, product and solution are all important parts, the biggest change we made was really addressing the idea that experience drives behavior and those behaviors create the outcomes we want.”

How the experience affects candidates

So how much of an impact are we talking about here? According to research from CareerBuilder, an estimated one-third of job applicants who had a bad candidate experience said they were less likely to buy products from the company in the future.

Additionally, 78 percent of applicants said they would tell friends and family about a bad candidate experience. This tells us that a bad candidate experience impacts your company far beyond missing out on talented individuals who can build your company and brand. It can also impact your bottom line.

It’s time to usher in the era of the candidate experience! We at Zoho Recruit are going to spend the next couple months talking about how you can address this issue of improving the candidate experience. We are going to spend time dedicated to figuring out what candidates want to see on an application or career site, and we are going to understand how candidates want to be treated. 

Above all, we are going to start putting the candidate first.

And when we begin meditating on providing candidates with a positive and transparent candidate experience, we can then make significant strides toward recruiting the most talented and quality candidates to change your company for the better.