It’s about more than just listing a job and hoping for the best. In 2021, the experience your candidates have as they consider and move through the process of applying can make all the difference in finding, attracting, and retaining top-level talent. One research report tells the story of how building and optimizing your candidate experience can make a tangible business impact:
- 66% of applicants were willing to refer others to open positions if they had a positive experience.
- 31% of applicants openly shared any negative experiences they had with their personal and professional network.
- A global surge in positive applicant experiences in 2020 resulted in greater engagement and ultimately more quality hires.
The lesson is simple: focus your recruitment marketing on the needs and preferences of your prospective employees, and you have the potential for significant return on investment.
That’s easier said than done, of course. Modern recruitment marketing is complex, and creating a strategy that accounts and optimizes for your candidate’s experience takes requires a comprehensive approach. So let’s break it down. Take these 9 steps, and your chances of high-quality recruitment that draws and engages the best possible candidates for your organization increase significantly.
1. Find the Right Channels
As is the case in any type of marketing, it’s vital to meet your audience where they spend their time. In the recruitment environment, that means understanding exactly how your potential candidates typically research organizations like yours and optimizing your promotional strategy for those channels.
Your company career site remains the most popular channel for applicants to perform their research. But don’t stop there. Social media, especially LinkedIn, has proven to be one of the most important channels, as well. Online job boards and career sites, from Indeed to Glassdoor, are among the other popular channels, as well.
It doesn’t end there, though. The 2020 North American Talent Board Candidate Experience (CandE) Benchmark Research Report showed both chatbots and texting becoming increasingly important communications channels. Unlike the above examples, they provide interaction opportunities that make the candidate experience more engaging and conversational.
2. Show off Your Organizational Culture
When your applicants apply, they want a clear understanding of your organization’s culture and values. In fact, according to one survey, 40% of top candidates expect to learn about your culture from the first time they hear about potential career opportunities.
Fortunately, plenty of options to highlight organizational culture and values exist depending on the channels described above. Career pages, on your website and LinkedIn, are especially popular. The more clearly you can communicate the intangibles that define your work environment, the better.
3. Adopt an Empathetic Approach
In a more recent development, the 2020 CandE Report also found that in this past year, due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and significant diversity and inclusion shifts across industries, employers adopted a much more empathetic approach to recruitment they had in the past. The results were significant:
- Candidates were less likely to speak negatively about employers, even after potential rejections or later notices.
- Candidates became more likely to apply again after an initial rejection, even building some levels of brand affinity and becoming customers.
- Gaps between how employers and candidates viewed the application experience narrowed and in some scenarios vanished, suggesting more positive experiences overall.
The lesson is clear. The more empathetic language, in all phases of recruitment marketing, is here to stay. Adopting it, especially in combination with the other steps we will outline throughout this guide will help candidates retain and even improve employer perceptions, leading to a wide range of benefits.
4. Prioritize Transparency for Candidate Experience
Candidates value transparency. As anyone who has moved through an application process knows, the worst part of recruitment from a candidate’s perspective tends to be the time of inaction, without a word on the status of the application or any follow-up actions required.
Transparency, in other words, is key to a positive candidate experience. If you can, keep your applicants posted about:
- Where they stand in the application process, and what is still needed.
- The timeframes they can expect once completing their application.
- What happens during that time, to make the gap from submission to feedback more tangible.
For instance, recruiters of top employer brands are more likely to share exactly how candidates will be assessed. They’re also more likely to share information about the length of the application process from the beginning.
5. Ease the Application Process
Naturally, the application process itself is also a central component of effective recruitment marketing. Too often, even online systems still require duplication of information or are unclear about the exact documents needed to successfully apply. Uploading a resume and separately asking for the same information in fill-in fields may be easier for some assessment software, but significantly worsens the experience for candidates.
Increasingly, top recruiters are turning to technology to ease this process. Software that allows candidates to simply provide their LinkedIn profile and auto-fills most of the information directly from it, for instance, can improve both application rates and candidate satisfaction ratings.
6. Build for Applicant Research Preferences
Do you know how your candidates prefer to learn about you? The channels you choose are an important start, but only part of the equation. In fact, according to the CandE report, top recruiters are 10% more likely to receive a 4-star or 5-star rating for the information available about them than all other employers, suggesting that this step is key to a successful candidate experience.
It’s about knowing your candidates. Options to build your recruitment marketing strategy specifically for your applicants’ research preferences include:
- Providing immersive, visual content about your company’s tangible and intangible benefits on your website.
- Implementing career sites in multiple languages.
- Sharing awards received for employee experience with candidates.
- Posting specific answers to frequently asked questions by candidates available for all.
- Providing employee testimonials and using career newsletters to communicate with potential candidates.
Your exact strategy may differ based on the types of candidates you look to attract. One constant, though, remains: build your strategy with what you know about your ideal candidate at the center.
7. Optimize Your Feedback Loop
Don’t know anything about your prospective hires? Not sure about their preferences to execute some of the above steps? Just ask. According to the CandE Report, companies who asked for candidate feedback at every stage of the recruiting process were significantly more likely to improve the employer-candidate relationships. In the process, experience improved significantly as well.
Surveying candidates is an important start. Further down the recruitment marketing funnel, more personal communications through chatbots and other 1-to-1 communications tools increased in importance. In the latest stages, direct personal conversations between applicants and recruiters were the most effective way to both gain feedback and create a positive perception.
8. Remain Fair (and Be Open About It)
Your candidates deserve to know exactly why they did or didn’t make it through the recruitment funnel. Clearly outlining the recruitment process (see step 4) is a start to that process, but not enough. Especially the interview process takes center stage when both executing and communicating about the fairness of your process.
Structured interviews that build consistency and don’t allow for subconscious bias depending on the candidate are crucial. Most importantly, though, candidates should know about that structure, ensuring that they feel treated fairly even if the result of the process might not be as expected.
9. Stay Away from Fluff
Beyond the above steps, one tip remains as true of the hiring experience as it is of any type of marketing: fluff doesn’t tend to sell. Rather than spending a lot of words trying to convince your audience that your opportunities are the best, spend that time highlighting exactly why that is the case.
Applicants, as any type of audience, have a limited attention span. Keeping it simple across your recruitment channels, from the job description to chatbot interactions, can make a major difference in getting your audience’s attention and keeping them engaged. Clear, straightforward language allows you to get all of your most important points across in as few words as possible.
Bonus Step: Ditch the Job Description
Speaking of the job description: how does yours look? For most employers, job descriptions tend to be boring. They haven’t changed much in the past century, only moving from paper to bits and bytes in the past few decades. Why not look for alternatives that could immerse your audience, getting the most important information in an engaging, visual medium?
That’s the promise digital job previews hold. They allow you to showcase your company and its opportunities visually, with 360-degree views that can be supplemented by the words and visuals you need to get your most important points across quickly. Job previews turn the early parts of your candidates’ research and application process into an immersive candidate experience.
We can help in that process. Concept3D has significant experience building job previews for employers in a variety of industries, with a central focus on improving the candidate experience. Contact us to learn more about our work, or start the conversation on improving your own recruitment marketing today.