How Measuring Your Candidate Experience Can Pay Off

Exactly what is the business impact of a poor candidate experience? According to the latest global Talent Board research, 41% of your candidates will take their allegiance, product purchases and brand relationships elsewhere because of it. They won’t apply again, they won’t refer others and they won’t buy your stuff. That could equate to millions of dollars in revenue for consumer-based businesses (like Virgin Media’s business impact work and the dozens of companies that have won our Candidate Experience Awards based on having the highest candidate ratings in our survey research) and potential eventual lost revenue due to not having the referrals needed to grow the business.

On the other hand, because of a positive candidate experience, 64% of job seekers (including those who don’t get hired) will increase their relationships with your brand and your business. That’s the potential revenue upside. Especially since the majority of the candidates surveyed via Talent Board research are rejected candidates.

How’s that for business impact?

So, how do you know for sure whether you’re delivering a great candidate experience or a lousy one? The same way you know your organization’s other key performance indicators—by measuring it.

Measurement Isn’t Optional, It’s Essential

Measuring your candidate experience requires more than mirror-gazing and self-scrutiny. Today, the companies delivering award-winning candidate experiences go directly to the most reliable source of objective insights: candidates themselves. These companies gather feedback from every candidate who goes through their recruitment processes, whether they’re hired or not.

Collecting this feedback takes a dedicated investment of talent acquisition professionals and the right feedback technologies—and a willingness to smash the status quo with a strategic consumer-based approach to recruiting. One company living up to these demands is Wells Fargo, a four-year CandE award winner.

Wells Fargo launched its Candidate Experience Program in 2015 to deliver a best-in-class job seeker experience. According to Program manager, Kelsie Johnson, this meant ramping up both the volume and frequency of candidate feedback. During a recent Talent Board webinar she stated, “Until you hear directly from your candidates, you really don’t know what their priorities and opinions are or what they want from your organization. You might think you know, but you don’t.”

The company has taken a three-phase approach to gathering more—and more continuous—feedback:

  • Phase 1—It’s now surveying internal and external candidates who are not These individuals share information about every step of their experience—from initial attraction to the online application to communication and follow-up.
  • Phase 2—It’s now surveying all news hires and internal transfers. This is a single survey applied consistently across the entire organization to determine how employees feel about their new job fit, their overall satisfaction with the recruitment process, and areas for improvement.
  • Phase 3—While Wells Fargo does currently survey its hiring managers, the process isn’t yet consistent companywide. That’s what this phase will focus on when it launches in the months ahead. By improving its hiring manager survey process, the company will have a truly comprehensive view of opinions regarding its candidate experience.

By gathering all this feedback on a continuous basis, Wells Fargo has improved its ability to:

  • Give job seekers the experience they want, including a more robust mobile job application process.
  • Measure the ROI of specific candidate experience initiatives.
  • Prioritize new candidate experience projects to be in sync with job seekers’ actual needs and desires.

“Wells Fargo is now reaching out to and gathering feedback from 30,000 to 35,000 candidates per month,” Johnson said during the webinar. “That’s a staggering amount of information but it’s important in helping us determine our Program’s focus, not only for the rest of this year but for the coming years.”

The Benefits of Measurement Abound

Wells Fargo clearly illustrates the business benefits of measuring your candidate experience. And to say that you’re just not ready to measure yours means that you could be missing out on key talent via loss of referrals and lost revenue due to a poor candidate experience you may not even be aware of.

There are other benefits to measuring your candidate experience by participating in the Talent Board CandE program including the ability to use the information you gather to: 1) benchmark your company’s recruiting processes and candidate experience against others; 2) receive formal recognition for your candidate experience by possibly winning a CandE Award based on your candidate ratings of their experience with your organization; and 3) share and receive best practices in Talent Board research, symposiums, awards galas, webinars, podcasts and more.

How many referrals and how much revenue will it cost you before you start measuring candidate experience so you can improve it? It’s never too late to start and Talent Board is here to help.

You can still participate in the 2017 Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards and Benchmark Research. Find out how today. And if you’re interested in learning more about how Wells Fargo transformed its candidate experience, just click on the preceding link to watch the brief webinar.

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It Takes Talent To Become A Top Recruiter

Job seekers these days have few advantages when applying for jobs if they don’t have an inside contact to smooth the path. The best recruiters make it easy to connect and make it possible to forge a working relationship with the brand. A recruiters job is to find top talent, yes, but a big part of that job is defending the brand against bad hires – think of Zappos’ practice of buying out employees who don’t “fit” quickly. And they continue to innovate. Zappos’ is currently doing a great job of spotlighting their recruiters. A brand win, win. This means, as with in-the-trenches HR, a large part of their job is risk management. It’s not that they’re against you, candidates; it’s more that they’re for the company and culture first. If you turn out to be the ideal candidate that’s a bonus, but it’s not job #1.

I think a lot of people – both recruiters and candidates – thought HR tech, in the form of job microsites, job boards, and HR technologies, would help rebuild the shaky bridge between employer brand, internal recruiter/external recruiter and the candidate experience. And for some companies it has done the job, principally because the brand awareness is so strong. (TOMS Shoes, Apple, and Google come to mind.) For these companies, candidates self-select before they enter the recruiting pipeline. This candidate-centric approach requires a very strong brand and equally strong recruiting practices.

For companies without a strong brand, or with a lot of heavyweight process in recruiting, the balance needs to shift back to a talent-centric focus, away from heavy process. How does that happen? One way is through brand visibility and online social learning.

Recruiting As A Social Reality Show

Thinking about training may send a shiver down your spine. Chain hotel ballrooms and meeting rooms; meh food; endless PowerPoint presentations given by tedious speakers. Anxious attendees, desperately networking. It’s hardly a recipe for learning, let alone success. Here, as elsewhere, we can learn a lot from technology, even 80-year-old technology.

So I encourage you to add a dose of reality (and fun) by watching the Top Recruiter Miami social show and competition. Executive Producer Chris Lavoie has done a great job borrowing the “top chef” model and applying it to the world of social and recruiting. This year’s event, scheduled for three weeks from now in Miami, will be more than entertaining TV (no Snooki, alas) – it’s a master class in how to be a top recruiter, one who puts the candidate and the brand first.

As Chris points out, an estimated $140 billion dollars are spent on recruiting every year. That is a huge amount of money, and some employers may question the ROI on the investment. Chris also notes a world-class recruiter has to have multiple skill sets, what he calls “the right combination of people, business and street smarts”.

So put the show on your radar, and in the meantime let’s think about what the top recruiter skill set really is.

Five Candidate and Brand-Centric Recruiting Skills:

Be Curious: this is table stakes but worth mentioning. For example, recruiters don’t have to be technologists, but they must be conversant with tech terminology if they hope to attract the best tech candidates. If you don’t know the difference between Java and C#, you won’t have much success lining up the right candidate. Be a student of the market for which you’re recruiting. Know the influencers, read the news, follow the investments.

Be Focused: more table stakes, but it’s been amazing to me, in my years as a recruiter, how many recruiters I meet who lack simple focus. They move from opportunity to opportunity; they neglect to build relationships with brands and candidates. They’re robo-recruiters, robo-calling or trolling LinkedIn with the most minimal level of commitment and effort. They aren’t candidate  or job seeker advocates: they are working on their retirement strategies. Don’t be this person, or if you are, rethink about your career calling as a recruiter.

Be Intuitive: intuition is pure gold. It will tell you when a candidate isn’t quite as presented in his or her resume, and when a CEO is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you rely entirely on HR tech to recruit, your intuition muscle will atrophy and you’ll be at risk of making bad hires. Mix it up: use technology to make your life easier, and intuition to make the hiring process more effective.

Be People-focused: technology and process are necessary but not sufficient. You need to know and genuinely like people. Be a student of human nature, know how to read body language, how to catch little hesitations in speech and spot a too-quick shift of the eye. You need to be friendly and open to put people at ease, and savvy enough to know when you’re being played.

Be Brand-aware: don’t work for brands you don’t believe in. Don’t work for managers who are clearly toxic. Keep your ear tuned for dissonance when you speak to candidates: What worked at their last job? What were the barriers? What were the things, if changed, that would have kept them in the job? Why did they leave?

We need, as an industry, to restore the balance between classic, candidate-centric recruiting and technology-assisted, process-driven recruiting. We need to help the companies we work with improve candidate experience while hiring the right person. In some ways we have to be two things at the same time: a brand advocate, for sure, and a candidate advocate. It’s not a Jekyll-Hyde thing. You can do it. Just focus on people first, and the rest will follow.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

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