Improve the Candidate “Shopping” Experience

I’ve written before about my passion for the candidate experience…quite a bit, actually. As a board member for the Talent Board, you’ve hopefully witnessed my advocacy for candidates; Of course I also offer kudos to employers who are taking strides toward improving the journey from stranger to employee.

However, let’s take it up a level and talk about the overarching strategic level of the candidate experience. Yes, it’s about thank-you notes and avoiding miscommunication, but it’s so much more. The entire process begins long before anyone opts into communication from you or applies for a position.

When shopping for a new dishwasher, people read online reviews, walk the aisles of Home Depot, Google different brands, ask friends on Facebook, and have at-home discussions with anyone else whom shares dish duty. And this is an appliance. What about when they are making a career change? Let’s assume their priorities are straight and care more about their job, personal brand and impact on the world than a dishwasher’s decibel levels.

So what does that mean? As candidates become increasingly more like consumers, they shop around, scour websites – employers and sites like – vet opportunities, compare and ask meaningful questions. Research shows that candidates use approximately 12-18 sources of information before they apply.

So employers, heed my warning: BE READY. Don’t assume that you can throw together an attractive job ad and it will suffice. Candidates already know about the organization and have (very) likely done major research.

The term Recruitment Marketing comes into play here. When people are looking for a new position, they need compelling language everywhere they turn. Don’t shut the door on quality talent by lacking the right kind of messaging on your website; be sure to include clear employer brand language, employee stories, job-specific explanations, helpful career resources and more. And be sure to do the same on all social media profiles and across all other available platforms.

Data from SmashFly states that 74% of candidates drop off of the apply process. For one reason or another these consumers – uh, candidates – weren’t sold yet on your employer brand, weren’t engaged by the application process or weren’t ready to apply yet. Can’t you just hear them say, “Moving on….”?

So, think through your recruitment marketing strategy with a strategic lens to decide if candidates will even be interested in making the candidate journey with you.

Run these three tests:

Is it Helpful?

Put yourself in the shoes of the candidate. You want someone to help you understand the opportunity. Don’t be cryptic or hard to find. Use informative language when explaining your EVP (Employee Value Proposition); make frequently asked questions easy to answer on their own. Don’t lose people because they think you don’t care enough to help.

Is it Inviting?

Are you front-and-center, inviting people to learn more about you as an employer? Do you seem open and welcoming to queries about your workplace culture, job path opportunities or other burning questions? Don’t appear like that dark haunted house on the hill. Be so lit up that you’re transparent. And transparency is a whole different story.

Is It Engaging?

Are you offering ways to invite potential and current candidates to engage with the organization? Are there forums, videos, Q&A sessions, or open dialogue with team members? Do you have a cool newsletter that outlines the day-in-the-life of an employee in your organization? Is there another way for potential candidates to show interest and learn more without applying immediately, like joining a talent network?

Last fall, SmashFly researched and evaluated every 2015 Fortune 500 organization’s career site for 13 recruitment marketing practices. Of those companies, SmashFly found that 57% used employee stories on their career sites through either text or video. This practice should continue to grow, and employee stories should be used to engage and nurture potential candidates in social media and in your talent network.  People listen to people over brands, which is why employee stories speak so much more to candidates!

Is your social media presence one that makes people want to engage with you and be part of the family? Don’t get sucked back into that archaic one-way communication where you simply spit out messages. Everything goes both directions these days. Open up those channels, engage and learn from what you are hearing along the way.

Lastly, because I am a tech geek, I highly recommend capitalizing on the technology that can improve your entire methodology. Recruitment Marketing Platforms like SmashFly track the candidate experience in every recruiting touch point and effort, from before employers know the candidate to after they opt-in to receive additional communication or apply for a job. Let data do some of the work! This way you can see what’s working, what’s not, where people are dropping off and how to mitigate just that. It’s always better to track and measure the candidate experience than simple guess, which is where technology like a Recruitment Marketing Platform can really offer insight and facilitate change.

Whether you personally like shopping or not, that’s what people (e.g., candidates!) are doing every day. Be the place people want to visit – and buy from.

This post is sponsored by SmashFly. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more content like this, follow SmashFly on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and SlideShare.

Photo Credit: cornerstoneindia via Compfight cc