Expert Panel: Measuring Candidate Experience and Its Impact on Branding
In today’s connected world, the cost of having a poor candidate experience goes well beyond just losing headcount in your talent pipeline. Research from a variety of sources shows it can have a direct impact on your company’s brand and the way people talk about it among their friends and family. Awareness of this issue has become cause for concern in the talent acquisition community—and rightly so.
To better understand the issues of employer branding and the implications of candidate experience, as well as how to measure the success of candidate experience so organizations can improve over time, we asked a few practitioners, analysts, and bloggers for their thoughts on the topic. In part two of this expert panel series (you can read part one here), we tap into the minds of eight experts hailing from McKesson, Pepsi, CareerXroads, Recruiting Blogs, TalentCulture, and more.
What is the connection between candidate experience and a company’s brand? And why should talent acquisition professionals care?
More than one third of your candidates who have had a negative experience will publicly share it, 40% of them will go out of their way to dissuade others from applying to your company and a quarter will never, ever apply to your firm again. What part of this is hard to understand?
Last I heard someone say one in six candidates are a potential customer. Secondly, with social media and sites like Glassdoor, if you don’t have a good candidate experience then job seekers will let others know. So just do the right thing to begin with and grow your own brand.
Candidate experience is customer experience with a different purchasing decision, so given the fact that search engines make no distinction between employer brand and consumer brand, neither do potential candidates or customers. Recruiters should care because a strong candidate experience can actually have a positive impact on the bottom line, and can turn TA from a cost center to a profit center, which is good news for anyone who wants to actually get that proverbial “seat at the table” instead of just talking about it.
It’s time for recruiters to reframe the way they think about this issue. Because of the internet, we’ve seen the factors impacting brand perception become more complex by the year. Candidate experience is of course just one of those factors, but it’s a factor in the control of the recruiting organization. Research shows that many candidates who had a bad experience in any part of your apply flow or hiring process in general will never apply at your company again. Others will make a point to talk about it on social channels.
Devastating as that is, this fact is even worse: a bad hiring experience may cause the right applicant to turn down the job. This will have direct impact on a company’s brand. Top talent has no desire to work in a disrespectful organization with leaders who simply don’t care about strong communication in the recruiting process.
It’s easier now than it’s ever been to share both the positive and negative experiences we have with companies. It doesn’t matter if we’re singing the praises of the best bartender we’ve ever had or the worst dentist we think we’ll ever meet. The recruiting industry isn’t immune to how savvy we’ve gotten at both sharing and finding insights related to what it’s like not only to engage with a company but to work for one as well. A strong and positive employment brand or reputation helps to keep a company top of mind when desired candidates are considering a change. Think of it this way… Not once when you were hungry and trying to decide where to go for dinner have you ever said to your family, “Hey, let’s go eat at that place everyone says is awful.”
A good Recruiter (TA Professional) knows that developing a strong employer brand is at the core of what we do. People want to know what a day in the life looks like at your organization.
Direct connection of brand experience. There is very little difference from the candidate experience and walking into a retail store relative to your impressions and external feedback on your experience. The biggest differences would be: a) you see who to give feedback in the consumer experience b) you are there to spend money versus make money to pay your bills. TA pros…should be appalled and have a loud voice if their positions aren’t marketed and nurtured just as the company’s brand would be.
How can a recruiting organization measure the performance of its candidate experience?
Ask this one question of every person who applies to every job within a few days of filling a position, “Based on your experience applying here, would you refer others to apply?” Analyze the responses by subtracting the percent who are most negative from the percent who are most positive and ignore the neutral responses. Your numbers using this Net Promoter Score (NPS) approach won’t tell you ‘why’ but it will help establish a baseline for candidate experience. Very positive (or any negative numbers) are worth digging in to.
You can look at returning visitors on your career site. Monitor Glassdoor discussions, along with how engaged your audience is on your social media platforms. Then of course, the number of referrals you receive from internal employees and external followers.
The only way to measure the performance of candidate experience is to actually ask candidates whether or not they’d recommend applying for a job at said company to a friend or family member once they’re out of process. This is called Net Promoter Score, and how well a company rates in terms of NPS is easily the best baseline to measure how much they’re moving the needle in terms of providing a great experience to candidates. Since they’re customers, too, makes sense to use the same metrics to measure this as consumer marketers. Per the earlier question, the two should be strongly correlated in terms of outcomes.
More of the performance management techniques used to measure the way consumers view your brand and experiences need to make their way into the recruiting world. If you’re going to push recruiters to deliver a higher quality experience in every interaction they have with candidates or you’re going to improve the digital experience they receive on your website or while interacting with your brand on social media, then you need the numbers to back that up. The best way to measure that is to build a performance management plan that’s centered around actual feedback from people who have applied and gone through the process.
By understanding and designing the process from the applicant’s point of view. Role-playing can be invaluable here. Have a team member play an applicant’s role as you design each step of your recruiting process.
You’ve got to measure something if you want to improve upon the work you’re doing. One option is to do this through various touch points in your candidate flow, quick surveys and new hire and/or exit interviews, but I think this makes it harder for you to really benefit from the big picture if done in a vacuum. Programs like the Candidate Experience Awards (CandE’s) that have been successfully running for nearly five years and cost nothing for an organization to enter, can provide an incredible amount of intelligence related to nearly every aspect of your candidates’ experiences as well as benchmarking your results alongside other participants. Pairing up your own initiatives with an annual program like the CandE’s can have a huge return on investment. Right out of the gate you can take some of the data and begin to build a roadmap towards improving everything from career sites to social and marketing strategies and even the need to overhaul hiring manager interviews and processes.
Ask for feedback from all candidates, whether successful or not. Gather feedback during the recruitment process. Understand why candidates apply. Understand how likely they are to refer someone in the future. Think about how the candidate experience will impact their customer status.
Use NPS, survey hired and not hired candidates, and invest in brand experience audits by third-party firms every six months.