Candidate or Consumer? Why Not Both?

October 17, 2022

Think back to your last job hunt.

You probably applied for a few positions before finding the perfect fit. And if you’re like most candidates, you probably didn’t hear back from every single employer you applied with.

Days and weeks passed as you waited for some form of contact, and you probably felt confused when you were met with radio silence from your potential employer.

Now, let’s switch the roles. Imagine that you’re the employer who went MIA on an applicant. Chances are, your applicant is telling other people about their negative experience with your company. And if that person was also a customer, you might be losing out on valuable business.

So, what’s the solution? It’s time to treat your candidates like customers. You need to treat them with respect, make them feel comfortable, and recognize their efforts. When you create a positive candidate experience, candidates will keep you in mind for future opportunities. Not only that, but they’ll build up your brand with glowing recommendations to family and friends.

When you take the right approach to recruitment, you’ll be one step closer to finding the right person for the job. Here are some simple steps to improve your candidate experience.


1. Rethink Your Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are an essential piece of the application puzzle. Why? Just like product descriptions, they drive potential candidates to the next stage of their journey.

If you haven’t created candidate personas yet, here’s your sign to start. Similar to customer personas, candidate personas highlight key details about your ideal candidates. They can also help you identify which skills candidates need to succeed in their new position.

After you’ve created candidate personas, you can tailor your job descriptions to attract your top picks. Personalized job descriptions can also help you reduce unqualified applicants, so you’ll spend less time sorting through mountains of applications and sending rejection emails.

When you’re crafting job descriptions, pay attention to your language. According to a 2011 study, gendered language tends to attract or deter potential candidates, with masculine language driving fewer female applicants. For the best results, avoid using gendered pronouns to describe your ideal candidate.


2. Simplify the Application Process

Your company makes it as easy as possible for customers to have a positive buying experience, but what does your application process look like? If you’re consistently getting negative feedback or high dropout rates during the application process, it’s time for a change.

Our advice? Keep it simple. Countless candidates are put off by cumbersome applications, and the numbers back this up. According to the 2021–2022 State of Gen Z study, 60 percent of Gen Z job seekers won’t spend longer than 15 minutes on an application. And if your application is complicated, over half of candidates will abandon the application altogether.

As a result, a straightforward application can make all the difference in your candidate experience. Depending on the position, you might offer options for candidates to upload their resumes or apply using social media profiles.

By simplifying the application, you’ll set expectations for the rest of the hiring process. At the same time, you’ll streamline the hiring process, minimize mid-application dropouts, and reduce your time-to-fill. Win-win!


3. Keep Candidates Engaged

One of the main factors contributing to negative candidate experiences? A lack of timely communication from potential employers. You’re already prioritizing communication with customers—now, it’s time to treat your candidates the same way.

Your candidates are busy. They’re devoting time and effort to fill out your application, and you need to treat them with respect if you want to convert them into hires down the line. To show your appreciation, you should send a “thank you” to each candidate and keep them updated with regular communication throughout the process.

Not sure where to start? Consider investing in an applicant tracking system (ATS) to upgrade your recruitment strategy. With an ATS, you can easily track candidates throughout the recruiting process, from application to hire. And since most ATS systems are customizable, you can create a user-friendly application form to gather required information from candidates.

You can also automate follow-up emails, interview scheduling, and other communications to build connections with top candidates. (Pro tip: If you’re automating communications, make sure the message reflects your brand and doesn’t feel robotic.)

When you respond quickly, you’ll make sure nobody is left waiting for an answer. Plus, you’ll keep candidates engaged—all while preventing your top picks from being hired by competitors. According to LinkedIn, 60 percent of job seekers search for alternative options when they’re left waiting too long.


4. Sell Your Employer Brand

When you treat candidates like customers, you take a solution-based sales approach to lock in your top picks for open positions. In other words, you’re pitching your company to qualified candidates—just like your sales team pitches your company’s products or services to prospective customers.

From the first touchpoint, it’s important to “sell” candidates on the benefits of working for your company. To do this, you’ll need to articulate why candidates should choose your company over the competition.

You should focus on your employer value proposition, including your company values, long-term goals, and other key aspects that set you apart from the competition. Here, your main goal is to strike an emotional chord with potential candidates by highlighting your company’s impact.

When it comes to recruitment marketing, you should address questions commonly asked by candidates. To convert more skilled candidates with a strong employer brand, take the time to create candidate-centric content for your social media channels, careers website, and blog.

You can answer candidate FAQs with different types of content, including:

  • Video interviews or blog Q&As with current employees
  • Career journey stories with leadership
  • Pictures of company events, like trade shows or industry conferences
  • Employee-created content (i.e., blogs, social media posts, “day in the life” videos)
  • Workplace tours and walkthrough videos


5. Provide Personalized Feedback

Want to turn your rejected applicants into loyal brand advocates? Avoid ending communication with a cookie-cutter rejection letter. When candidates make it deeper into the hiring process, send personalized feedback to let them know why they weren’t chosen for the position.

According to the Human Capital Institute, 94 percent of candidates want interview feedback, and job seekers are four times more likely to consider a company for future opportunities when they receive constructive feedback. Candidates will appreciate that you went out of your way to help them on their job search—and that might just make the difference between a negative and positive review.

Remember: The way you treat candidates (both hired and rejected) sends a clear message about your company values. And as the boundaries between employer and company brand continue to blur, candidate experiences can make or break your company’s success.


6. Ask for Candidate Feedback

You’re probably already requesting customer feedback. After all, customers are going to share their experiences whether you ask for feedback or not. When you survey customers about their experience, you can find new ways to improve customer service, upgrade your products, and grow your business.

Using a similar process, you should request feedback from your candidates. By sending candidate feedback surveys, you can address potential areas for improvement in your hiring process—from unclear communication to lengthy application processes—to create a standout candidate experience.

At the same time, asking for feedback shows candidates that you value their opinions, which goes a long way in making candidates feel valued throughout the recruiting process.


Treat Your Candidates Like Customers

Just like customers, candidates feel frustrated by negative experiences. When you let timely communication fall by the wayside, candidate resentment can wreak havoc on your company.

Even when candidates aren’t the right fit, you can still recognize their efforts with a positive candidate experience. When done right, rejected candidates can even become your most loyal brand advocates.

Ready to improve your candidate experience? Download our self-audit checklist and schedule a discovery call to start treating your candidates like customers.

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