A Bad Candidate Experience is Bad for Business

It’s not rocket science to understand that candidate experience is more important now than ever before. The explosion of the internet and the impact that brand has are to blame for this. It’s all about perception, which is really reality because how people feel about a particular brand is what matters. Even if this perception is not entirely accurate, it’s still reality. Go back to pre-internet days, organizations were in complete control of their brand message. They didn’t have to worry about doing something ridiculously stupid and then having it blasted all over social media within seconds. Do you remember what happened when HMV employees hijacked their Twitter account and were live tweeting layoffs? Rewind 30 years ago and this would not have happened. Oopsie…

There are now many ways for someone to express interest in a job and organization. When someone turns from prospect to candidate they likely go through some kind of candidate experience — application process, interviews, background checks, salary negotiation, orientation and the list goes on. We all know that one of the biggest problems with the candidate experience is the lack of communication between Recruiter and candidate — a.k.a. the “black hole effect”. This is basically when communication between parties lags, stops completely or some other combination. The candidate is basically left wondering what’s going on with their candidacy. It’s an unsettling feeling, and the blackhole effect exacerbates the typically uncomfortable situation for the candidate. But what happens when the candidate experience is really bad? Aside from the fact that the candidate will either likely not get the job or not take the job if offered, how do you think that individual will feel about that organization going forward? Likely pretty shitty if you ask me.

Impact on the Business

During my 17+ year career in HR and Recruiting I can’t tell you how many times I have had a conversation with a senior leader about why HR and Recruiting are important and how it impacts the business. I think you all would agree that recruiting is one of the most important, if not the most important, things that an organization does. Just take a look at how much time senior leaders spend on recruiting and that says it all. At its core you can’t run a successful business without people. This is as simple as it gets.

Let’s shift gears slightly. We know that brand perception and equity is crucially important for business success. What if a given organization puts 1,000 people through some kind of recruiting process? These people are treated as candidates versus prospects. What if the collective overall experience for these people were horrible at best? How do you think these people will perceive your organization going forward? I’m not just talking about for employment purposes. I’m also talking about how they view your products and services. I’ll tell you this. If I was treated like garbage by an organization as a candidate my feelings of that organization going forward will not be great. Will the experience negatively impact my decision-making when it comes to buying their product or service? Absolutely. Will the experience negatively impact my willingness to refer and promote their product or service? Absolutely.

Now take the 1,000 people I used in the previous paragraph and multiply by the number of connections each person has in their respective networks and that is a lot of people that you have lost, from a business perspective. Each person has on average 150 connections. That is 150,000 people you have directly impacted, and then many more indirectly. Now say you sell a product online that costs $20 a month and it’s a product that every one of these 1,000 people could potentially buy. Say your typical conversation rate is 15%. 15% of 1,000 people is 150. 150 x $20 = $3.000 per month in revenue, and $36,000 annually. This is a very simple example but of course the impact is much higher if you expand the calculation to 15% of 150,000. You get the idea though.

My Simple Recommendation

First off, organizations who don’t believe that HR and Recruiting impact their business better change that mindset asap. Take your head out of your rear end and a) accept it, b) understand it and c) do something about it. Second, do everything in your power to ensure that the candidate experience for ALL candidates is awesome. It doesn’t matter that candidate #415 will not get a job with your organization, you must treat them like royalty. That positive experience will help your business. Third, train your Recruiters to be relationship managers. Pair up your Recruiters with your star Marketers and Sales people so that they can be trained on how to build awesome relationships. Fourth, tweak your recruitment process to be more proactive. Build your workforce plan for the year and proactively build talent communities and pipelines. It takes time to get to know people and the more intel you have on your target market (e.g. software engineers) and the more you engage with them the better off you’ll be at winning. Fifth, over-communicate with people. People naturally don’t like being left out of the loop on things. They start to wonder, analyze, speculate, worry, and so forth, all because of lack of communication (remember the black hole effect?). Solve this problem. It’s not hard to do.

What I shared is not breaking news, it’s smart business. One of my close network contacts, and very well respected and talented Recruiters in Toronto, Paul Hamilton, told me once that the keys to a great candidate experience are to just be human and follow a good process. It’s really not that difficult to make some simple changes to your recruiting process to improve the candidate experience. The organization you work for will benefit from it.

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