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5 ways to hug your candidate and not be creepy

Written by Phil Roebuck | August 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

candidate-experienceAs an employer you’re constantly trying to target, attract, develop, and hire the best candidates possible.

Of course, in the age of social recruiting, it’s not as straight-forward as it used to be.

Talent pools are infinitely deep. In fact, there’s so much “talent” out there in cyberspace that it can be an overwhelming task just sourcing candidates who actually fit the bill.

One way to attract the right candidate is to remember that recruiting is a two-way street. The employer is not the only operator in the equation. Job seekers are out there as well, actively or passively doing their thing, and they have rights too.

One of these is the right to a good experience, because searching for you, Mr. Employer, is hard enough. Too many HR professionals forget this and act as gatekeepers instead of facilitators. If employers focus on optimizing the candidate experience, they will attract better candidates, shorten their time to hire, and retain highly engaged, enthusiastic employees.

1. Treat Candidates as Well as You Treat Your Customers

Just as you optimize the conversion flow for a customer, you want to optimize the conversion flow for a candidate. And remember that those candidates applying for your job opening most likely have been or will be a customer. So don’t be a salesman. Think like your marketing team. Is all of your communication to your candidate as targeted, timely, and polite as something that would come out of your marketing department?

The HR department has as much to do with employer branding as the marketing folks do. Even if a candidate isn’t qualified for the position, treating him as a customer will at least ensure his experience is a positive – and that message is what you want to spread like wildfire.

2. Keep Your Applications Short and Sweet

What if I told you that one online application for a Fortune 500 Company had 200 questions and took 85 minutes to complete! “Candidate drop off” is an issue that many employers don’t fully appreciate. In fact, 47% of job seekers have not finished a job application because it was “too lengthy or complicated.”

Streamline your applications. Don’t push your ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to accomplish more than it needs to. Remember that you’re never going to ascertain a candidate’s “fit” until you speak to him or her, so why ask 35 open-ended, problem-solving questions in your online application?

Remember that you’re trying to attract, and not weed out candidates. This shouldn’t be Organic Chemistry 101. Screening can come later.

3. Give Real Feedback

If you are in fact a Fortune 500 receiving 20,000 applications per day, this is harder to do, but not impossible. Applicants who are screened out by an ATS should still receive some type of communication from the employer. It’s amazing how many companies do not do this.

In the case of smaller companies, no gesture goes further than giving an applicant feedback in the form of human interaction. Providing useful feedback will indicate what a great workplace you have, where expectations are clear and feedback is frequent and fair. After all, you do have that type of workplace, right?

4. Gamify Your Application Process

We’ve touched on this before, but gamification can make applying for your company more enjoyable, instructive, and it can ensure that a candidate will actually finish the process because you’ve provided some incentive to do so.

There are all kinds of ways to play around with gamification in your process, but there’s little doubt that it’s going to be integral to the future of recruiting, so it’s probably best to get on board as soon as possible.

5. Candidates Are Humans, Not Baby Humans

All of these suggestions shouldn’t imply to that I believe candidates are infantile, precious things who deserve gratuitous hand-holding. Not at all. They just deserve, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, “a little respect.”

So when you finally do get to the interview stage, there’s nothing wrong with asking tough questions and doing what you presumably do best: ascertaining whether or not the candidate in front of you is qualified for the position. If you’re going to try and stump the candidate, do it fairly with useful questions like “Explain our product/service as quickly as you can,” and not with questions like, “How many ping pong balls will fit in a 747.”

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