No one likes the feeling of being ignored by employers during a job search. It’s actually one of the biggest pet peeves of candidates, based on a 2017 study conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed. Around 4% of the time, candidates actually hear back from a recruiter within a day of completing an application, but after that the statistics go seriously downhill. 37% of job seekers hear back within one week, and 44% within a couple of weeks. Others wait months to hear a peep, most giving up at that point.
And guess what happens when a candidate is treated with such (perceived) disdain by an employer? They go and tell everyone who will listen to them what they have encountered. Did you know there are currently 15 active anonymous employer review websites available today -- with more being created all the time? This isn’t even covering all the other ways that individuals vent their frustrations about their job search process. It literally takes seconds for one job seeker to post a negative review online. While the reviews tend to focus more on the negative, imagine what goes through the minds of other candidates who read them while they are researching companies for a new job.
Now is the Time for Better Communication
If organizations are so keen on making the candidate experience a positive one, why do they let too much time go by without a reasonable response? The usual excuse is that recruiters are far too busy pouring through stacks of resumes to call every applicant personally. Sure - this may have been the case ten years ago when the nation was facing a depression and the average job opening was generating hundreds of resumes. But now, things have teetered over to the other side where it’s a candidate’s game. Recruiters cannot afford to neglect even one quality candidate.
4 Communication Touchpoints for Improved Recruitment
Communication is key to improving candidate experience, so let’s explore the critical moments when candidates need to hear from potential employers the most. Here are four primary touchpoints to consider:
After researching for days, a candidate finally finds an appealing job and decides to fill out an application. This can take anywhere from ten minutes to as long as 30 minutes, depending on how much information is required by the applicant tracking system. If it’s a good one, the ATS gives the candidate an opportunity to upload a resume, which is parsed correctly and makes quick work of filling out all the fields. A bad ATS malfunctions and the candidate must fill out the missing areas. Then the candidate finishes and hits the submit button with high hopes.
If it’s a good system that focuses on a positive candidate experience, the ATS should have a built-in email response message that thanks the candidate. But this doesn't mean a recruiter’s job is done. Each recruiter needs to create a personalized message that thanks the candidate, invites them to review the company social network to learn more, and gives the candidate instructions on what the next steps will be in the recruitment process. Be honest here. If your response time is 48 hours, let the candidate know they can expect a call or email to schedule an interview. Better yet, allow the candidate to self-schedule using a calendar application.
If you have informed the candidate of the next steps, the candidate pre-screen should be a snap. The pre-screening is the recruiter’s chance to make a great first impression with the candidate. It will likely be the only contact the candidate has ever had with a human being at the company. This communication must be warm and friendly at the same time as being strategic and efficient.
Prepare a few standard candidate pre-screening interview questions ahead of time. Use these for every candidate. Record the responses in the ATS and this will help you to recall the candidate later. Recruiters can use this time to set clear and realistic expectations with candidates. Even if the candidate has had a negative experience with the application technology, this can be a chance to turn things around.
Swiftly following up with all pre-screened candidates is a must. There will be the few candidates who have passed the first phase, and now it’s time to communicate what the status is with candidates. Schedule in-person interviews with the candidates that have been selected, and send all the other candidates a professional, but kind rejection notification.
For the interview, brief the candidate about what time to arrive, directions to the building, where to park, how long the interview is expected to last, and what to bring to the interview. Make the interview experience as pleasant as possible. The goal is to introduce the candidate to your employer brand, the culture, and give them a glimpse of what their future career may look like. It is as much about them learning about the company as it is about finding out more about the candidate. Communicate how long it may take to decide and when the candidate may check back if they like. Follow up after the interview as soon as possible to thank the candidate for coming, provide a status, and again be sure to send out rejection notifications to those not chosen.
All the effort has led up to this point. Call the chosen candidate and extend a verbal offer of employment. If the candidate accepts, let the him or her know that a written letter will be mailed to them immediately, along with some other materials. This can include a welcome to the company from the CEO, a schedule for orientation and subsequent onboarding activities, and a package including employee benefits information. Confirm receipt with a follow up call, and then set the employee’s start date.
Where does your candidate experience need improvement? Use the McQuaig Candidate Experience Grader to find out.
The onboarding period is especially important. This is the prime time to engage the new hire, introduce peers, assign a mentor, set up training and performance goals. Have all available resources and a supportive coach ready from day one. Maintaining close contact with the employee, allowing time for the employee to voice concerns or needs, and getting feedback from the new hire can increase long-term engagement.