Pay Close Attention to Candidate Experience for Long-Lasting Benefits

Pay Close Attention to Candidate Experience for Long-Lasting Benefits
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Companies often come across hundreds of applicants for every job opening. It’s difficult to keep track of them, but remembering the best of the best is essential when it comes time to re-engage A players who either slipped away or did not fit the role they previously applied for.

The repeat applicant is a common occurrence in the world of job seeking -- a 2015 TalentBoard survey found that over half of the 130,000 candidates surveyed had a past relationship with an employer. Companies should focus their energies on providing a positive candidate experience the first go-around to keep top talent interested in future opportunities.

Related: 3 Important Things to Know to Improve Your Candidates' Experience

This is how companies can prepare to impress their candidates so they can re-engage them for future opportunities:

Provide a great application experience.

This is where the candidate-employer relationship begins, and as most people know, a first impression is important. It’s where the employer establishes its brand as credible and trustworthy, and provides key insights into what it’s truly like to work in the office.

Unfortunately, the application experience can easily turn off top talent if it’s messy. A September 2014 study from Jibe found that a poor application experience deterred 25 percent of the 1,000 job seekers surveyed. Additionally, 37 percent of the 300 recruitment professionals surveyed are concerned that their company’s application process is deterring quality hires. So what can employers do to impress their applicants? The solution is quite simple and straightforward.

First of all, write an accurate job description that clearly highlights the expectations and gives the candidate a clear idea of the day-to-day grind, as well as what the company values and strives for. Give them an in-depth look at the position. When they have a clear vision, candidates are more prone to connect with the opportunities on a deep level, especially if it aligns with their personal values and career aspirations.

An accurate, detailed posting attracts strong matches and can help deter those who are underqualified. For those who match the role, they should be eager to click the “Apply Now” button, which brings up the second step to wowing the talent pool.

Create a clean, simple online application process. Avoid asking too many questions. Get the most important information necessary at this stage, add a feature that allows applicants to upload their resume and cover letter, give them the option to link to their LinkedIn account to their application profile, and optimize the process for mobile devices.

When they create a profile with the company’s career page, make it easy for them to stay connected with the organization. Encourage them to sign up for email notifications about upcoming jobs. Provide contact information for an internal recruiter or HR professional. Giving them an actual person to connect with adds an important personal, humanness element to the application process.

Related: How to Attract Talent Via a Clear Hiring Process

When everything is automated, the recruitment process feels very dull and artificial. Job seekers flock to companies that provide a more human experience. Reach out to applicants with a follow-up email about the next steps and provide a timeframe for when they can expect to hear back.

Respect the time of interviewees.

Interviews are always stressful for job seekers, who are typically spending a lot of time in their active search for employment. Respect their time and effort by executing a simple interview process. Similar to the application, companies should know exactly what they want to accomplish with the interview and know what information they need to make the decision. While the interview should certainly have some flexibility and involve informal small talk, it should also be straightforward and not eat up too much time.

When it’s time to break the bad news, give them detailed reasons, and do it personally over the phone or through email. Clarify why they didn’t get the job offer and provide constructive feedback. For example, if they lacked experience with a software, tell them there are several resources to use to build that skill set. They want to know how they can improve their value in the job hunt. When they are left wondering from all their other interviews, they will appreciate and respect the employer who called back and provided some actionable advice.

Finally, if they are indeed worthy to re-engage with, encourage them to check in regularly for other positions that may suit them better. Just because a candidate isn't right for one role doesn't mean they won't be the perfect fit for a future opening. But how can hiring professionals remember all the best applicants? Keep reading.

Build a pool of talent.

Maintain a talent pool and schedule follow-ups when new job openings match a candidate’s skill set and experience. Keep a database with contact information, and highlight each person’s background and plans to correctly match them with their ideal role in the company. Connect with them on social media like LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, and invite them to company job fairs. When trying to re-engage and attract previous applicants, employers should make them feel like they are wanted and have what it takes to succeed.

Related: HR Leadership: Proving the Value of the Talent Function

Ideally, hiring professionals will have a list of candidates to re-engage with. To expand this pool of talent, encourage current employees to participate in an employee referral program. Referrals usually require less time to recruit, which is why they belong in the database of previous candidates. Both kinds of talent can be re-engaged with. But it all starts with giving them a great employer brand experience. How are you building a pool of talent and trying to re-engage A players?