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When candidate experience destroys reputations

Rob Symons - Smart Recruiters

The Great Resignation and ongoing talent shortages have given candidates the upper hand throughout hiring processes. As all industries continue to experience staff shortages, organisations can no longer afford to neglect their candidate experience. The first interactions with a potential employer should be positive and empowering for applicants as it sets the tone for how the business treats its staff.  

Having an uplifting experience helps define your employer branding to prospective employees. Positive branding attracts the right talent to the job and ultimately saves money per person in employee replacement costs. Over the last couple of years, we have watched employee expectations change, with The Great Resignation illustrating staff won’t hesitate to walk away from a job that’s no longer serving them. But negativity surrounding a business’ reputation as an employer won’t even get quality candidates through the door. Organisations must truly understand how their employer branding is affecting recruitment in order to solve these issues.    

The candidate experience acts as a window
The hiring process is a glance into what it’s like to work for a specific organisation. Reputation is everything and we all know first impressions count – how an organisation treats their applicants and interviewees sets the tone for what they are like as an employer. Candidates don’t want to work for a company that feels clunky and unorganised from the moment they started interacting with them. In fact, CareerPlug discovered 58% of jobseekers have declined an offer due to poor experiences during the hiring process.  

Furthermore, a lack of communication and lengthy processes can really affect their interest, changing the way applicants react to a potential job offer. Slow communication and progression are two of the biggest culprits causing organisations to lose candidates during their hiring journeys. Recruitment agency Morgan McKinley found that 65% of businesses have lost their best candidates due to lengthy hiring procedures. An unsystematic approach to hiring tells candidates that working for your organisation will be unnecessarily difficult, causing them to lose interest.  

Negative experiences deter the most capable talent
It’s not uncommon for companies to receive numerous responses to a job listing when there’s only one role up for grabs. Often, organisations will vet and narrow down to their top five candidates, believing each individual is able to do the job. For the four that are unsuccessful, it is important to encourage them to later apply for similar roles within the company to ensure talent pools are filled with top talent. However, according to CareerBuilder, 42% of people won’t apply for a role if they have previously had a bad experience with the company, so regular communication about new roles is vital in this instance. 

There’s a misunderstanding that candidate experience only effects applicants. In the same survey by CareerBuilder, a further 22% actively advise their peers not to apply to organisations they’ve had a poor experience with. People look out for their friends, colleagues, and their network – not wanting them to go through the same trouble as they did. A negative experience can ensure top talent is deterred from applying to your organisation in the first place. 

Another one of the biggest issues within recruitment is ghosting, leaving candidates in limbo not knowing if they will ever hear back. Similarly, receiving rejection emails several months down the line can be insulting and maybe even comedic to candidates, only encouraging them to tell their networks about the poor recruitment teams at your organisation. By utilising technology like Applicant Tracking Systems to manage the application process, organisations get time back to respond to applicants, keeping them updated and creating positive experiences no matter the outcome. Technology can essentially be used to put the human back into recruitment, allowing companies to focus on their employer branding aimed at attracting the best talent. 

A bad experience can sabotage business growth and operations
Candidate experience is the make or break in whether companies are hiring the best-suited, quality, individuals to the job, or not. Organisations want talented individuals that cannot only do the job well, but also slot into the company’s existing culture. This is one of the biggest factors ensuring employee retention is and stays high. A survey from FlexJobs explained that 62% of people cited toxic company culture as the reason they quit their jobs. 

If a poor candidate experience is creating a poor employer brand, the quality of the applicants will dramatically reduce. Low-quality talent pools mean a lower quality in your new hires and the work they carry out. Existing staff may find their days at work become more stressful and workloads increase because new hires aren’t performing at the necessary level. Before you know it, everyday functionality of the business slips, customers’ needs are no longer being met, and service quality is reduced.  

What can organisations to do to solve this problem?
Slow processes could be down to arranging interview invites and ensuring multiple members of the team are informed on progress. Applicant Tracking Systems offer organisations the opportunity to plan and organise their recruitment processes in one place, allowing team members having visibility. ATSs also lower the time wasted sifting through CVs and interviewing completely unsuitable candidates. The artificial intelligence built into these platforms only surfaces the applications that are the right fit for the job, meaning resources are optimised.  

By adopting this technology, organisations have the time to home in on ensuring other hiring tasks are being completed to a high standard. For example, writing clear job descriptions makes sure there’s no confusion about a role or its pay. Misleading applicants through inaccurate or unclear advertisements won’t help businesses win the war for talent and wastes more time with candidates rejecting offers. For those who accept offers, suggesting benefits that do not come to fruition once an employee join will just create unnecessary disappointment and unhappiness at work. 

The more organisations neglect their candidates’ experience, the higher retention rates will soar and the quality of applications with plummet. In a world where recruitment continues to be controlled by candidates, businesses cannot afford to stop investing in and improving their hiring processes to ensure they can take the power back.  

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