How to Create a Value-Added Candidate Experience

By Melissa Suzuno

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Welcome to the third post in our series about candidate experience! If you haven’t been following along so far, here’s a quick recap: In the first post, we looked at a few of the trends that are making 2020 the year of candidate experience. Next, we considered why meeting candidates’ expectations is no longer enough. In this third and final post, we’ll explore a few of the ways you can transform the application experience to provide value to every candidate.

Want to really dive into the topic of candidate experience?  Download our e-book, The 2020 Guide to Candidate Experience.

Candidates give up a lot when they apply to a job. In 2018, LinkedIn found that just 30% of the global workforce is actively seeking work and the remaining 70% is passive talent. This means that the majority of people going through your job application and interview process are taking personal time—whether it’s nights, weekends, or time off from work—to engage with your company. And since the average length of the interview process is 22.9 days, that’s an awful lot of time, not to mention the effort that goes into preparing for interviews, take-home assignments, communicating with recruiters and hiring managers, and anything else that the process requires.

At the same time, the relative ease of submitting applications online means that large, well-known companies often receive hundreds or thousands (or even hundreds of thousands!) of applications for each open position. According to Glassdoor, the average corporate listing attracts 250 resumes, but this can be much larger. Southwest Airlines, for example, receives a job application every 2 seconds and reviews 287,422 resumes a year (and this was back in 2015, so we imagine these numbers have only grown).

So at this stage, you may be wondering: Is it even possible to create a candidate experience where every applicant feels they got something of value, especially when you handle a large volume of applicants? The short answer is yes. For the longer answer, read on!

Creating a thoughtful candidate experience

Recruiter time and resources don’t need to be in opposition with candidate experience. There are organizations that have set the example that talent acquisition processes can be designed for efficiency and candidate experience.

At Greenhouse OPEN’s 2018 conference, Employer Brand Strategist Lane Sutton (who consults for companies like Disney) shared his experience of creating a great employer brand for job seekers.

For one company he consulted with, his team created an email list of every person who applied for a job at the organization, and nurtured them with a monthly newsletter that highlighted the company’s culture, team outings, and quotes from employees on what they loved about working for the business. The emails saw a 54% open rate (for context, the average email open rate is 24.88%).

The organization learned that job seeker interest was not one-and-done. As a result, they built into their hiring process a step that automatically added every job applicant to an email newsletter specifically designed to advertise employer brand, even when a candidate was rejected for a job. The process was automatic, meaning there was no manual work required from recruiters and HR professionals, but the campaign was driven by a value-adding candidate experience. Now interested job seekers got an exclusive sneak peek into the company culture—something they didn’t have before.

And since candidates who have a positive experience are 80% more likely to apply for another job at the same company, this practice creates a pipeline of engaged candidates for future roles that open up with the company.

Online assessments: The next wave of candidate experience

Creating an experience that provides value for candidates at scale doesn’t have to just look like consistent communication between the employer and applicant, either. Manuel Heichlinger, LinkedIn’s Senior Manager for Talent Acquisition, has said, “The best companies want to help their candidates to succeed and are making the most of emerging interview techniques. These include using online assessments to give a more holistic picture of the candidate.” 

Online talent assessments, when used correctly, can provide you as an employer the best of both worlds—efficiency and value for every candidate. Assessments are convenient for HR teams—the results of a valid assessment can give talent decision-makers a rich understanding of applicants’ innate talents and behavioral competencies, which can become a more predictive replacement to resumes as a top-of-funnel shortlisting tool. Talent assessments also have the potential to reduce time-to-hire by shortlisting candidates more quickly and predictively.

But be warned—assessment providers don’t always get the candidate experience part right. Applicants may be asked to take a long and arduous assessment, but are met with nothing but a “we’ll be in touch” landing page or email—a black hole. The result is a pretty frustrating experience for job seekers, who have spent time and energy applying to your company without so much as a note that they’ll hear from you. In this situation, candidates receive no value.

To contribute to an excellent and value-adding experience, online assessments need to provide some sort of applicant-facing output. This doesn’t mean they have to inform a candidate whether their assessment results were or were not a match to the role’s requirements (which could quickly backfire into a negative candidate experience), but there are other ways to leave candidates feeling good about themselves and your company.

Assessments can provide a value-adding candidate experience by providing job applicants with content that helps candidates as they continue on their job search, or an output that helps applicants uncover something new about themselves.

Here at Plum, for instance, we automatically provide every single person who takes our talent assessment with a unique and personalized profile that outlines their top talents, tailored career advice, and questions to ask in their next interview to ensure they’re finding a workplace where their innate strengths can shine. Candidates receive valuable feedback that they can take with them whether or not they reach the next stage of the hiring pipeline, all while requiring no extra bandwidth from recruiters and HR professionals.

Want to learn more about how Plum can help you provide a value-added candidate experience at scale?  Get in touch!