Study: 95% of Recruiters Say Candidate Experience Impacts Employer Brand

Study: 95% of Recruiters Say Candidate Experience Impacts Employer Brand

Mike Roberts

If you have a bad experience at a restaurant, most likely someone is going to hear about it. Twenty years ago, news of your bad experience may have traveled as far as a phone call to your friend and a discussion with a coworker in the company kitchen. Today, though, you could get the word out to dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people through social media and review sites—doing significantly more damage to that restaurant’s brand and reputation than you could have done years ago.

Candidates are in a similar boat, and many employers are starting to take notice (read: feel the impact). In our State of Employer Branding Survey last year, we asked several hundred recruiters and marketers if they felt candidate experience impacted their employer brand—95% said yes. We’re not sure that percentage would have been so high a decade or two ago, but much like today’s consumers, modern candidates have become greatly empowered by social media and review sites.

candidate experience employer brand relationship
Now, if a candidate has a horrible interview experience, hates how your ATS apply flow freezes mid-way through an application, or goes through any other of the thousands of potential candidate experience blunders, there are few places to hide (on the internet at least). Announcements will be made on Facebook, reviews will be submitted on Glassdoor, and your employer brand is on the receiving end of those frustrations.

This may seem scary, but on the bright side added visibility provided by the web is raising the bar for what’s considered a quality candidate experience, and companies that can control and optimize theirs will reap the benefits in their employer brand over the long haul (not to mention their time to fill, cost per applicant, and quality of hire, but that’s for a different article).

Candidate Experience: A Leading Indicator of Employer Brand

The idea that companies should treat their candidates as well as they’d treat their customers has been floating around for a while now. By that logic, customer experiences are managed by customer service teams, so candidate experience is the responsibility of talent acquisition teams.

However, while customer service teams have a formalized responsibility to improve customer experiences, that is not generally the case with the talent acquisition-candidate experience relationship. Some companies have specialists that lead (as well as measure and optimize) candidate experience, but those positions are few and far between as of right now. That’s not to say candidate experience goes completely unmanaged or unnoticed, though.

Rather than having a dedicated candidate experience professional or team, many companies have candidate experience initiatives. They’ll work toward improving one or more aspects of candidate experience at a time (e.g. internal campaigns to equip hiring managers with better interview skills, improving the career site user experience, setting up a net promoter score system, etc.). Although this is a good step (or set of steps) in the right direction, it can leave holes in your candidate experience.

Ineffective management of your candidate experience will undoubtedly surface in some shape or form in the quality/health of your employer brand. For that reason, we view the quality of candidate experience as a leading indicator (one of many) of employer brand. Like any leading indicator, improving it will trickle down to everything that follows.

Treat Candidate Experience Like Your Employer Brand Depends On It

Gerry Crispin, often referred to as “The Godfather” of candidate experience, stopped by the Jibe office for a workshop last year. He left us with some sage advice to mull over on how to improve candidate experience. He explained, very simply, that there are five areas that impact candidate experience the most.

  • Setting clear expectations from the beginning
  • Always listening to your candidates first
  • Exemplifying fairness throughout every step
  • Providing some form of closure
  • Demanding accountability

If you want a full analysis of what each of these points mean, you can find it here.

These tips make so much sense, perhaps because they’re precursors to exactly the type of experience one would expect to have while buying something—on, say, Amazon, a business that pours money into continuously optimizing the customer experience.

With Amazon, you know exactly what you’re buying, the rating of the product and seller and when it will be shipped (expectation setting), you have the option to email customer service or the seller at any time as well as to rates and review any products (listening/giving a voice), you can see comparable sellers’ prices while making your purchasing decisions (promoting fairness), you receive notifications and visibility into the status of your shipment (closure) and finally all sellers are held to a certain standard by both Amazon and users (accountability).

The performance of Amazon’s business is largely based on its ability to optimize customer experience. That’s part of their brand. They have processes and systems in place to measure every aspect of customer experience, so they know which improvements have been made and to what magnitude. Your talent acquisition team isn’t the Amazon customer experience team, and it doesn’t need to be, but the point is it’s possible to think like them and generate improvements in the quality of your employer brand.

Your employer brand is more than your ability to manage employer review pages or publish content about what it’s like to work at your company. Perhaps this will be the year you formalize candidate experience within your organization, hire/promote someone or create a team to be responsible for making sure every one of those aspects Gerry Crispin pointed out is thought of throughout the hiring lifecycle, and/or put a system (like NPS) in place to start measuring your performance. Your employer brand depends on it!

And remember, social media feedback and employer reviews go both ways—if you do an exceptional job some people will make a point to let the world know.

Check out our eBook, “The Talent Acquisition Leader’s Guide to the New Candidate Journey.” From employer branding to recruitment marketing and conversion optimization, this eBook dives into what modern leaders should be thinking about.

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