We’re hearing a lot these days about candidate experience and company culture. Both have been identified as keys to successful recruiting. Most job seekers care deeply about the type of culture your company has, and there’s an increasing body of research to suggest that your candidate experience has a powerful effect on your ability to attract and retain talent.
But because so much focus has been given to both these concepts independently, it’s normal to think they are two separate things. But this is simply not true. With culture being such an important factor in a candidate’s decision, it’s important you do everything you can to communicate your culture to job seekers. And whether you want it to or not, your candidate experience does just this.
Let’s take a look at what your candidate experience says about your company culture, as this will give you an idea as to where you need to tweak your efforts to be more effective in recruiting and retaining top talent.
What is Candidate Experience?
Before going too far, though, it’s important to define exactly what we mean by candidate experience. It refers to what a candidate goes through when applying for one of your positions, starting with their first interaction with the company, i.e. a job posting they see, and continuing all the way until their first day.
Most people consider the onboarding process to still be part of the candidate experience. The first few weeks and months on a job are very much like a trial period, so you need to continue to please people if you hope for them to stay around. And research indicates an employee’s experience with onboarding affects their decision to stay on long-term, raising the stakes for delivering a positive candidate experience. Hiring a professional employer organization (PEO) is a good way to make your onboarding process much easier and more efficient, helping you create a positive first-day experience and a long-lasting first impression.
But candidate experience has such an impact because it showcases, for better or for worse, your company culture. To help you determine if you’re sending the right messages about your company culture, here’s a bit more about how the way you treat candidates shapes their perceptions of you.
Put Yourself in a Candidate’s Shoes
Imagine this situation: You’re combing through job boards and you find a position that really interests you. The page where you see it, Indeed.com, for example, sends you to the company website to apply. When you get there, you find out the application process is going to take two hours. However, because you’re thrilled about the position, you hunker down and do it anyway. Two months later, you get an email asking for an interview, which you accept. But then after you do the interview, you have to wait another few months to get a response, which only comes because you’ve followed up a bunch of times.
By this point, six months have passed and you’re still not sure if the job is yours. If you’re like most people, you’ll likely have given up at this point, and the next time you see an opening at the same company, you’re probably going to avoid sending in an application.
If this is the experience you’re giving to people, how do you expect them to think about your company culture? Are they going to see it as efficient, streamlined, compassionate and innovative? Probably not. They’re much more likely to think of your organization as disorganized, unprofessional and maybe even a bit lazy. Now the next question: would you want to work somewhere with that type of culture? Again, probably not.
Is This a Place Where I Can Grow?
Professional development is another thing job seekers consider to be increasingly important. No one wants to take a job and stand still. Instead, they want to grow and get better at what they do. In fact, a lack of professional development is one of the key reasons an employee decides to leave their position in search of something new.
Candidate experience communicates loud and clear how interested you are in growing the organization. Think about it. If a company is relying on business as usual tactics for recruiting employees, then what can you expect from their work culture? Business as usual. However, companies that go above and beyond to please candidates are showing that they have a vested interest in bringing in top talent and nurturing them so that they can continue to grow.
Everyone out there is trying to position their companies as exciting, dynamic places to work. But if you don’t back these words up with actions, then you’re going to struggle in recruiting. Delivering a great candidate experience helps give credence to your claims, making it easier for people to get a snapshot of your company and see themselves working and growing there, increasing the chances they accept any offer you make them.
Is This a Place that Cares?
Again, what people look for in a job is changing rapidly. And while salary and benefits still remain king, there are other factors, such as a company’s commitment to social causes and employee well-being.
Your candidate experience demonstrates to job seekers a certain level of organizational empathy. It shows that you’ve spent some time considering things from a candidate’s perspective, and most people will take this as a reflection of how the company does business; it’s a lot easier to sell the idea that you “care deeply about your customers” when you’re treating your job candidates like royalty.
In general, job seekers don’t have a lot to go on when evaluating a position, especially when it comes to company culture. They have to rely on word of mouth, and also on the way you describe yourself. But the candidate experience is a good chance to offer real insight into what it might be like to work for your company, helping to shape people’s perceptions about your company culture in a positive way.
Start Improving Your Candidate Experience Today
As you can see, candidate experience says a lot about your company culture. And with culture being so important in job seekers’ decision-making process, delivering a positive experience could be the difference between a candidate choosing to accept your offer instead of a competitor’s. As a result, spend some time determining what your candidate experience says about you, and then take the steps needed to improve it so that you can enjoy better success in recruiting and retaining top talent.
About the Author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service specializing in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. His work requires him to consult with business owners of all types to develop and implement a growth strategy, as well as execute their eventual exit. This has helped him gain considerable expertise in the fields of business development and growth, which he enjoys sharing by contributing regularly to various blogs and online forums.