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are you really sure your company’s candidate experience wins talent?

Human capital and C-suite leaders don’t always align on talent strategy, but when nearly all agree on something, you can be sure it’s a winning idea.

According to the latest Randstad Sourceright Talent Trends survey, 91% of talent and business executives in 15 countries say they believe a positive candidate experience is necessary to attracting and engaging talent, and 76% have plans to make enhancements in the near future. As companies see greater competition for critical skills, they also feel the need to create as many positive touch points as possible to win over candidates.

Why is creating a strong candidate experience so important for many employers? With competition for talent growing more intense, there’s no room for mistakes and your employer brand must be top of mind. Companies that fail to provide a positive journey for applicants and a decent hiring process are struggling to connect with their targets and, ultimately, fail to meet business and growth objectives. The increased use of employer review sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Kununu or Fairygodboss (to name a few) and the amplifying impact of social media are breaking down the walls that companies operated behind in the past, adding visibility to the candidate experience and employer brand. The story of one bad experience can be viewed by many and easily told over and over again, damaging your brand and ability to recruit the talent you need.

Many companies are also realizing the business impact of a poor candidate experience. According to Talent Board’s 2016 North American Candidate Experience Research Report, 41% of job seekers who experienced a negative experience say they will definitely take their product purchases and relationship to a different company. Considering every candidate is a potential customer or employee, companies must place a strong value on their candidate experience. There is no sense of loyalty to a brand that doesn’t treat job seekers with respect during the application and hiring process.

An overwhelming majority (95%) of Talent Trends respondents say their candidate experience is either good, very good or excellent. However, our research shows they may be overly confident.

Other Talent Trends findings give me pause about the actual state of candidate experience at most companies. First, when asked if their organization invested in performing an internal audit of their candidate experience, only 51% say they do so at moderate or significant levels. This indicates that only half really measure the effectiveness of their efforts and have taken time to fully understand the experience they are providing to candidates.

It’s nearly impossible for the other half of organizations to know if they are delivering a positive experience without conducting a thorough analysis of their process and monitoring their reputation. It’s also likely that these organizations are not gathering feedback from job seekers. Without these investments, employers will not have a strong understanding of where their gaps truly are until it is too late and they see negative feedback shared on review sites or via social media.

How can organizations gather feedback to pinpoint their gaps? Many employers use surveys as a way to uncover how they are perceived and potential pitfalls during the hiring process. In fact, our research shows 62% conduct feedback surveys with candidates about their journey in the recruiting process. While this is a majority, 38% of employers are still operating in the dark, not knowing if the applicants who didn’t get the job walked away feeling valued or disenchanted about their experience. Such surveys are a crucial step for better understanding how you can continually improve the experience for job seekers.

Pause now for a moment and consider your organization. Have you conducted auditing and candidate surveys at multiple touch points to achieve clarity about your candidate experience? You need hard data and clear evidence to understand what’s working and what’s not in order to put the right strategy in place to close your identified gaps. For instance, some areas most often cited for investment include creating talent communities and consistently sharing compelling content, seeking external consultants and RPO providers for expert guidance and conducting training for hiring managers.

You must also consider the apply process a priority. It’s important to make it easy for job seekers to get into the funnel without struggling through a long, labor-intensive application and without issues when applying from a mobile device. With this step optimized, other candidate experience investments can fall into place more easily.

the big picture

How can you ensure candidates walk away with the most positive impression about your business? Before making plans to conduct an audit or beef up surveying, take a step back to see the big picture. Take an inventory of every touch point in the candidate and new hire experience. Companies often fail to account for all the channels that impact worker perception. Passive and active candidates may interact with potential employers long before they become an applicant. You may not be able to influence each and every touch point, but knowing how talent engages with your business will help you better strategize.

When deciding where to prioritize your attention, keep in mind that career sites are still the most often used resource for workers researching an employer (cited by 57% of candidates surveyed by the Talent Board). This was twice the number of those who used LinkedIn career pages (30%) or employer review portals (23%) such as Glassdoor.

Don’t minimize the importance of understanding your target audience and where you may reach them. Effectively and consistently sharing career-related content on career-focused blogs, social media properties such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even SnapChat will help to attract, engage and win talent.

Want to learn more about how your human capital and C-suite peers are integrating the candidate experience and employer branding into their talent strategy? Check out the latest articles, news, case studies are more here.