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I recently had the opportunity to conduct a workshop at the Social Recruiting Strategies Conference in San Francisco. The workshop focused on “Managing the Candidate Experience”.

As I prepared for the workshop, I thought the first step in managing the Candidate Experience is to understand the psychology of candidates. This allows you to have empathy, and the ability to put yourself in their shoes. Like the old saying goes, “treat others the way you want to be treated”.

A baseline understanding of how your candidates think and behave allows you to drive the experience versus reacting to it. This certainly isn’t something you can do overnight, but it is critical if you are striving to have an awesome Candidate Experience.

Here are 5 steps in the candidate experience from their eyes. The slide deck from the workshop is embedded below for you to view as well.

1. Discovery

Before a candidate begins the “experience”, they must first discover your company and/or a specific opportunity. The most common points of discovery are a friend’s referral, seeing a social media post, or finding you on a job board.

The question you must ask is, what do they see first? You should consistently “mystery shop” your online careers presence both on desktop and mobile. You can put yourself in their shoes to see what the first impression is really like.

2. Research

If a candidate has a positive first impression (and sometimes not), they turn to the web to decide whether the opportunity is right for them. In fact, research shows that canddiates are visiting an average of 12 different websites during this stage. The five most common sites a candidate lands on are: your main careers site, Glassdoor, Indeed, Job Boards, and LinkedIn.

Of course, you want to know what your presence is like on these sites. You want to see how best you can influence the story to fit what it’s really like to work at your company. But don’t stop there. Most important is to start building job content with specific job departments and locations. This will help get your own pages indexed higher with SEO. Thus, candidates may land on relevant, granular pages you own that tell your story in your terms.

3. Decision

Candidates are going to decide to hit apply or not. This is likely the highest point of their interest in your company prior to the in-person interview. That said, a candidate may also decide they are interested but not right now. Create an option to join your talent network, or make obvious how to follow you on social channels. This can be a great pipelining opportunity.

A critical thing to look at in this stage is, how easy is our application process? Go through the entire process of discovering one of your jobs, getting excited about it, and applying. This is a very emotional stage for the candidate, and it’s critical that you understand how well it works.

4. Communication

You need to realize it starts before the candidate applies. Your messaging on social networks, interaction with candidates in public forums, and stories your employees tell have influence on the candidate.

Of course, communication is critical during the hiring process as well. From the response to an application, all the way through the hiring process, being clear and timely is crucial.

One thing to think about is, how consistent is the story we tell? From social media to an employee talking to a friend over a beer, is the story consistent? Also make sure that you are setting the right expectations for people. Candidates really appreciate knowing where they stand, and you can set the stage by having clear expectations at every step of the experience.

5. Resolution

The number one frustration of candidates is the lack of feedback they receive. After discovering the job, getting excited through research, deciding to apply, and communicating through the interview many are now left with the sound of crickets. They may have simply gotten to the decision to apply. Even then it is often the sound of crickets they hear. This can be very damaging to your Employer Brand, and negatively impact your pipeline of candidates long-term.

A key question to ask here is, what was our last communication with the candidate? This is quickly followed by, how long does it take us to get candidates feedback? And finally, does the candidate know where they stand to the best of our ability to tell them? At the end of the day candidates appreciate knowing where they stand…even if it is a no.

Jason Webster

Jason Webster is a social recruiting enthusiast and co-founder of Ongig, a platform that creates shareable, visually-appealing job descriptions. He has spoken at multiple social recruiting events, where his passion for candidate experience is the primary topic. Connect with Jason and Ongig on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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