Improving Candidate Experience for the Job Seekers You Don’t Interview

Improving Candidate Experience for the Job Seekers You Don’t Interview

Elizabeth Silas-Havas

What percentage of candidates who apply for your jobs do you actually interview?

If you’re working at a company many people want to work for, that number is probably low. So what do you do with all of those unqualified candidates? You can’t just ignore them. In the words of Carl Buehner, “They may forget what you said—but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

The transition to Internet-based job-seeking has made the candidate experience feel faceless and nameless. In CareerBuilder’s 2016 study, 45% of candidates say their biggest frustration is employers who don’t respond.

As we move into 2017, organizations need to be focusing on all candidates in order to enhance their employer brands and streamline the recruiting process. This requires a formal strategy that ensures that job seekers who take the time to apply feel like your firm has given them sufficient attention. Why do you need to consider the experience that unqualified candidates have?

At least three reasons (and probably more):

  1. They may become qualified candidates for you in the future
  2. They may tell other candidates not to apply at your firm (on Glassdoor, on an industry-specific message board, or in real life)
  3. They may be less likely to become your clients/customers or to refer others

What if there was a way to turn even the least qualified candidates into an asset? Let’s look at how to acknowledge and even build relationships with some of them.

Turning Unqualified Candidates Into Assets

Employers have to treat candidates as they treat consumers; people now expect that. As Gerry Crispin, the “godfather” of candidate experience, has explained, there’s “absolutely no excuse” for not thanking people for applying or not telling them they didn’t get the job. Technology makes it easy to automate this.

However, a stiffly worded form letter that admonishes at its end, “Do not respond to this email,” may not leave an impression that builds your talent network. That’s just one example. On a whole, the recruiting space is not doing enough to improve candidate experience for unqualified candidates. Let’s dig into some ways to turn that around.

5 Easy Ways to Build Relationships with Unqualified Candidates

  1. The obvious one: Use recruiting automation software to, at the very least, thank everyone for applying. When possible, let them know a general time frame for the hiring decision; this is one way to set expectations that you can easily meet, which improves candidates’ ratings of their experience. Go a step further by automating the process of letting them know they haven’t been chosen. This helps provide closure.
  2. Modulate the tone and wording of your automated responses to match your employer brand and also your candidate personas. Candidate personas are worth researching: Interview those who have made it only partway through the candidate process as well as those who have been hired. Write up a composite outline of each of the candidate “types” you find. These allow everyone involved in recruiting within your organization to have a sense of who they are appealing to when crafting automated responses (and in creating new communications and processes).
  3. Send out an email to candidates who have been eliminated, asking them to join your talent network, which is a database or newsletter that people can opt into when they want to stay in contact with an employer. That way, you can stay engaged with them and send them updates on openings that they better qualify for (and stay on their radar as their qualifications improve).
  4. Tell your recruiters to personally connect with candidates on LinkedIn. Recruiters grow their networks by inviting candidates to connect with them for future opportunities. A quick email can be a great gesture for long-term relationships, and it grows recruiters’ social networks at the same time.
  5. Give actual feedback when you can. This is especially the case for candidates who didn’t just apply but also took the time to interview. Leave them on a good note by giving positive feedback and mentioning that they just weren’t the right fit. If you have too much volume, it may not be possible to individualize the feedback you offer, but your form response can still stay positive and emphasize the difficulty of the decision process. (You might, for instance, insert a mention of exactly how many applications were submitted for the position.)

And a Sixth Way (That Takes a Bit More Time)

What’s more important than giving feedback? Receiving it. Offer candidates channels to speak directly to you (before they go to others with their criticisms and insights). These channels might be, as Gerry Crispin recommends, one or two of these:

  • An actual person’s email address, such as the recruiter who is handling the position
  • A chat pop-up during the application process (or scheduled as a weekly social media event)
  • A specific person who skillfully and speedily responds to recruiting questions and comments posted on your organization’s social media accounts
  • An option to reply to your automated emails (the ones that in the past would have said “do not reply”)

Cultivating Relationships with All Candidates

The more relationships your company has with individuals, the more applications you’ll get for open positions. Because 71% of employed adults say they are open to or actively seeking new opportunities, cultivating relationships is key to getting excellent candidates to complete the first step towards working for you.

Good relationships across many networks—the digital kind and those in the flesh—help your long-term recruiting performance. Treating all candidates well now lessens the pressure to source good quality workers down the road.

Got any other ways to quickly improve a social recruiting strategy? Tweet your ideas to @Jibe and we will be sure to share!

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