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Want to Improve Your Candidate Experience? Ask Yourself These Key Questions

Ira S. Wolfe

President, Success Performance Solutions

Nearly 50 percent of U.S. employees are actively searching for a new job.

That means that half of the currently employed workforce will quit to work for your company if you offer them a better opportunity. Still, today's companies put up so many application hurdles and create so much confusion in their hiring process that many candidates don't finish—or even start—applications.

According to the Talent Board, it takes 1,069 candidate views to make one new hire. Yes, over 1,000 potential candidates view a job post before a hire is made. And of those viewers, nearly 80 percent never even apply, while almost 20 percent quit before they compete the application—leaving only a small sliver of actual applicants.

Converting more candidates to applicants should be a goal for all organizations if they want to hire the best of the best. And that starts with candidate experience. Ready to revise your approach? Here are three key questions to ask yourself to ensure that you're in tune with candidates' needs.

1) Do I Understand My Candidates' Behavior?

Human behavior is complex. When creating a job posting, career site or application, it's important to understand (and anticipate) what behaviors job seekers will use and what experience will keep them engaged.

  • Pro tip: Good candidate experience starts with research. Where did your best candidates begin their search? At home, at work or at Starbucks? Were they using their smartphone or using a desktop computer? Applicant tracking technology provides insight on candidate and applicant journeys, so take time to digest the analytics insights available to you, and adjust the experience accordingly. If your best hires came through mobile, adjust the application to be on-the-go friendly. Remember: more than half of all searches begin on a mobile device, so if your career page isn't optimized for mobile, it's time for things to change.

2) Do I Prioritize the Candidate Experience or My Own?

Don't allow business goals to compromise candidate experience. Most job applications are designed entirely from an employer's perspective, but an exceptional hiring experience is one that is candidate-centric.

  • Pro Tip: Positive candidate experience is about design empathy—translating need into action. In practice, that means that job openings on your career page should not only include information on what you expect from a new hire, but also provide information on why a candidate might want to work for your organization. Determine, too, whether each step in your application process is really necessary. For instance, once a candidate has uploaded his resume, is there a benefit to him supplying past employer information, as well, or is that simply done for your convenience?

3) Is My Application Easy to Complete?

Too often career sites are judged by aesthetics and not functionality, which is a wasted opportunity. Poor usability doesn't allow companies to convert job seekers into applicants, and if your company isn't getting enough quality candidates to interview, then chances are the person you hire won't be the best fit for the job.

  • Pro tip: HR teams are quick to blame a scarcity of talent for less-than-ideal candidates, but often it's candidate experience that lets top talent get away. Improve usability by adding seamless navigation tools, drag and drop uploading capabilities and intuitive editing tools. Not sure where to start? Apply for a job on your career page yourself and identify any pain points.

The race for talent has no finish line, but it evolves as candidate preferences, technologies and other factors change. The faster that these external shifts occur, the more critical candidate experience research, design and usability become to a competitive hiring experience.

Photo: Creative Commons

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