Candidate Experience

Why every candidate matters (even the ones you don’t choose)

Your search is over and you hired a great employee. But what do you do about the candidates that didn't get the job? Take the time to care about the candidates you turn away. This practice can speed up your future searches, strengthen your employer brand, and improve your reputation.

It’s easy to put the focus on the candidate(s) we chose to hire. After all, these are the people who made it through all the screenings, assessments, and interviews. They had what the company was looking for. From a business standpoint, this is a big investment of time and resources. But, what about the candidates who were not selected at this time? Don’t they matter too?

Before you just drop the pile of rejected candidate resumes into a file cabinet (out of sight, out of mind, right?), you need to perform a few tasks that can make a difference in how these and future candidates view your organization.

Why concern yourself with rejected candidates?

There are several good reasons why all recruiters and hiring managers should care about rejected candidates. First of all, these are people who took the time to learn about your company, complete all the forms and applications, show up to job interviews, and do their best to impress. Just because they were not chosen at this particular time doesn’t mean they don’t have potential for another position in the company should something more suitable become available. These candidates should be thanked and their information kept on hand to refer to for a future opening.

America is in the midst of a talent shortage not seen in many decades. The Society of Human Resource Management points out that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2000, there are major skill gaps in high-growth industries, and 60% of employers struggle to fill jobs within 12 weeks or less. And it’s is expected to get a lot worse. According to research produced by Korn Ferry Institute, by the year 2030, the talent shortage will reach 85.2 million people worldwide. With these factors in mind, candidates who have at least some of the desired skills and good attitudes are like gold to recruiters. Rejected candidates need to be treated with respect and kept in touch with.

Read more: Want to know the power of following up with candidates? Check out this blog

Maintaining a strong employer brand

The other factor at play here has to do with the brand reputation that your organization should be working hard to establish and preserve. If a candidate has a poor experience at any phase of the hiring process (or during the rejection) you can pretty much assume that this will be voiced by them using any number of social networking platforms or company review websites. The implications of a negative review are far and wide.

People are spending more time researching companies and their hiring practices upfront. The CareerBuilder Candidate Experience Survey from 2017 indicated that 9 out of 10 candidates find the information they are seeking on each company career website. However, the report also revealed that while 78% of employers believe they are doing a good job with setting expectations upfront and communicating with candidates throughout the hiring process, less than half of the candidates surveyed felt the same way. This indicates there is still work to be done.

If a candidate cannot find information such as salary, where the company is located, and what it’s like to work there — guess where they will head? Many will end up on company review websites like Glassdoor and FairyGodBoss, or asking their peers who may not have anything great to say. Just one compelling negative review left by a former employee or a candidate who felt wronged can convince another wonderful candidate to avoid applying for a job with your company. This is a lost opportunity that is entirely preventable.

Wouldn’t you rather candidates have a positive experience and say positive things? It just takes a little extra effort to make this happen.

Fortunately, there are some steps that any company can take to improve the experience of candidates and ensure that more people are offered career opportunities.

Pro-Tip: Test how well your candidate experience matches up with our online experience grader

The value of a structured candidate experience

An issue that comes up in the hiring process is lack of structure and consistency. If a candidate doesn’t know what to expect, the whole experience can quickly become confusing and negative. Communicate with candidates when they will receive further instructions, updates, and a decision made about their hiring status. Extend this to include what happens if they are not chosen at this time.

It is also critical to treat all candidates with fairness and respect. Each candidate should be evaluated based on his or her own unique talents and not directly compared to other candidates. This sounds exactly like it goes against recruitment practices. One thing to remember is that every effort should be made to avoid bias in the hiring process. It is not fair to measure one candidate against another. Instead, measure each candidate against the job requirements and tasks to find the best fit.

Look at all candidates as possible hires for future jobs, and invite them to stay connected to the organization. While it is important to notify candidates as soon as a decision is made (and this goes for rejected candidates too), communicate that there are many opportunities coming up. Candidates can choose to opt in to email alerts for future jobs and ask to be considered if they wish. They can be invited to the join a special social network for job seekers. Career support services can be offered at low cost to rejected candidates, which demonstrates good will.

Why are these efforts important? By treating candidates fairly from day one, it helps to build a candidate pipeline that recruiters can tap into anytime they need talent for a similar position. This maximizes resources, while creating a positive experience for candidates. Once they are invested in your business, shouldn’t you return the favor by investing in their future with your company too?

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