Why Candidate Experience Is Important and How to Improve It

I bought a t-shirt online a couple of months ago. Weeks passed and it didn’t arrive. I got in touch with the company via the email address on their website – more days passed with no response. I looked for a contact phone number on their website – none to be found.

In my frustration I took to Twitter and declared my disappointment in their poor service. Within an hour, I’d been contacted by a customer services rep and my issue had been resolved.

If this had happened 5 years ago, I’d have thought it very strange. But today? Social media is becoming the first-stop for unhappy customers – and unhappy candidates.

It’s not hard to translate this story to recruitment. John applies for a job and hears nothing back. He sends an email to your info inbox, waits a few days, and still hears nothing back. He complains to his friends on Twitter, vows not to bother with your company again, and moves on. Could this happen in your company? If we’re being honest, most of us will answer “sometimes”.

In recruitment, we find ourselves focusing on whoever pays the bills: clients and HR managers. As long as you keep them happy then everything is fine, right? Wrong. If you don’t keep your candidates happy, that paycheque is going to dry up fast.

Unhappy candidates lurking in your inbox is one thing; but unhappy candidates telling Twitter, Facebook, or Google that about their bad experience with you? You can’t just banish that to the bin: it doesn’t go away. In fact, recent changes to Facebook mean that there may be negative comments appearing on your Facebook page from as long as 6 months ago that you can’t even see, let alone control.

“But I don’t use social media!” cry some recruiters. It doesn’t matter. Whether you want to be a part of it or not, social media is happening to your recruitment business. Candidates are already discussing you on social networks and they’re not going to stop just because you’re not around to hear it.

There’s some good news though: social media can work in your favour just as easily as it can work against you. Studies have shown that people are much more likely to trust companies that they’ve read positive comments about online, particularly if those comments came from someone in their own network.

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Encouraging positive comments is easier than it sounds. If you provide a good candidate experience, the rest will take care of itself. Simple communication goes a long way towards this. Here are some suggestions:

  • Set up an email template to acknowledge the receipt of all applications you receive, whether you intend to consider them or not. Many recruitment software packages can do this for you automatically.

  • Don’t reject a candidate by ignoring them, however poorly qualified they are for the role – it may be common practice among some recruiters, but that doesn’t make it good practice.

  • Offer as many ways for candidates to get in touch with you as possible: the easier you are to contact, the less likely a candidate is to get frustrated and immortalise their dissatisfaction on Twitter or Facebook.

  • Monitor what’s being said about you online so you can respond promptly and turn around any negative responses.

  • Show some appreciation to candidates who have taken the time to praise you online – some thanks at least, or perhaps even a small gift. You’d gladly pay out a referral fee if they offered you one good candidate; public praise could be reeling in good candidates again, and again, and again.

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Looking for some more tips on improving the candidate experience with social media? Check out these resources:

4 Foolish Mistakes Recruiters Make on LinkedIn

The Recruiter's Guide to Google+

Top 10 Twitter Tips

Ailsa Partridge

Ailsa is a technical writer and solutions engineer working at Instructure in London.

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