Think back to the last time you went through the hiring process as a job seeker. Was everything laid out for you; did you understand what was going to happen? Did you know when you would be contacted? When the job would be filled? Or most important (to those of us who have learned this lesson), will you fit into the company and will it give you the challenge/excitement that you are seeking?
For most applications, you were lucky if you ever got contacted at all, and when you did, it was usually the generic “Thank you for your interest, you are not a good fit. But, please look out for other jobs in our company in the future”.
You were probably frustrated if not angry at the companies you applied to for such dismissive, disinterested treatment. And yet, we persist down this path; there are countless articles and blog posts screaming that the candidates experience is horrible and that it needs to be improved – and no, using an ATS over emailing in a resume is not a “better experience”.
If you’ve been following our blog, we recently discussed the “make it easy” approach to job applications - designed to encourage mass amounts of candidates to apply… while actually making the process less engaging than shopping for socks online. Over-simplifying the application process is just one part of the problem of a poor candidate experience.
To help you avoid making the same mistakes, here are five engagement-killing pitfalls companies frequently fall into—and ways that you can make your process more compelling and powerful.
Mistake #1: Leaving candidates out of the loop
It’s depressingly common for candidates to submit a job application and never hear from the company again. Worse still, many get partway through the hiring process only for the company to suddenly and mysteriously ghost them, making them wonder what they did wrong.
Candidates want to know where they stand—even if that means receiving a rejection. If you leave them guessing about whether the position has been filled, research shows they’re 3.5 times less likely to re-apply to your company in the future. They’re also far more likely to leave a negative review about their experience, deterring others from ever applying.
You’re busy, and candidates understand that. But sending a quick follow-up message at regular intervals (even an automated one) or providing a clear channel for them to contact you can dramatically improve their experience—and help strengthen their relationship with the company.
To really improve candidate experience, do not limit communication to the candidate’s status. Let them know if the process itself has changed: such as the date of hire (which also works if you are waiting on a great candidate taking their time considering an offer and you need to keep certain applicants “warm” just in case). It’s okay to tell candidates that the process is on pause or the timelines have changed. What’s not okay is to tell them nothing. Demonstrate that you value their time by keeping them in the loop throughout.
Using career.place, candidates know where they are throughout the hiring funnel.
To provide the best candidate experience, offer feedback at crucial steps in the process. Most candidates appreciate hearing how they’re doing—it helps them improve for next time and shows that your company cares about their professional development. Make sure you keep feedback constructive and avoid opening your company up to liability.
Mistake #2: Overselling or underselling the job and/or company
When you’re writing job descriptions, of course you want to present the company and job in the best possible light. But if something sounds too good to be true, plenty of seasoned candidates will see right through your soaring rhetoric and click away without bothering to apply. Before you know it, your well-intentioned attempt at grabbing their attention has completely killed their engagement.
Even if a candidate does continue with their application at this point, a job description which presents a rose-tinted view of the role can still cause problems down the line. Say the candidate arrives for their first day on the job and discovers the environment is nothing like what was “sold” to them—leaving their first impression one of regret or disappointment. This kind of buyer’s remorse causes your new hire’s investment in the role to plummet, along with their opinion of the company; and your new hire can quickly turn into your failed hire.
On the flip side, being too modest or vague in your job descriptions is apt to make them forgettable and unengaging. If a candidate is viewing dozens of jobs looking for a good fit, they’re apt to just skip over any that don’t catch their eye.
Sometimes it’s best to just call a spade a spade. Be open and honest about the company and job, and you’ll find that right candidates are genuinely intrigued, excited, and eager to stick with you throughout the hiring process. A job will never resonate with everyone, and by helping candidates who are not a good fit self-select out of the process, you protect yourself and your candidates against wasted time and effort.
Mistake #3: Telling candidates what they already know—not what they need to know
Speaking of job descriptions, have you ever read one that does nothing but list the obvious aspects of the job? Oh, this writing job will involve writing? This teaching role will require engaging with kids? Go figure…
Job descriptions like this don’t do you or the applicant any favors. The candidate winds up skim-reading and hitting apply without considering if the role is right for them, leaving you with a mountain of unqualified resumes to sift through.
Rather than wasting word count by explaining the obvious, embrace the opportunity to tell candidates what they truly want and need to know. What is the most compelling thing they should consider about your company? What does success in the role look like? Why is this job different and exciting?
This is your opportunity to engage with your candidates and show how amazing your company communication and process is. Don’t waste it!
Mistake #4: Being coy about what is offered and required
You want to hire people who love their work and working for your company, not employees who only care about the perks. But, unless your job is an unpaid internship or a volunteer position, your candidates still need to make a living. Money and benefits matter, and they will not matter less if you leave those important details for the end of the process.
No matter how fantastic the job is, if it doesn’t meet your candidate’s basic salary and benefits requirements, they will not be able to take the job. Failing to inform them of what you are offering can lead to a big waste of time for everyone involved. Imagine having a family of six and only finding out at the end of a long hiring process that the company doesn’t offer medical insurance or that you are offering 30% less than their basic expenses.
Similarly, don’t be coy about the requirements of the job. If they need to travel 80% of the time, tell them. If the job requires 100% in the office (i.e. no working from home), be clear about it. Otherwise, you may find yourself with hours invested into a candidate that cannot meet your basic requirements.
If a candidate can’t take the job without benefits, then they never will—whether they find out at the beginning or the end. And if an applicant values these benefits more than the “love for the job” itself, keeping them in the dark probably won’t change their mind at the end of the day either. Be upfront about what the job offers and avoid wasting time.
Mistake #5: Flirting with engagement—but not using it to your full advantage
Implementing any candidate engagement improvement is good… right? Not quite. An improvement is only successful if it actually improves the process for the candidate—and plenty of attempts fall short.
The problem is, lots of companies make surface level improvements, thinking it will boost engagement but amount to little more than set dressing. Newsflash: sticking a colorful avatar or scoreboard onto applications doesn’t count as gamification. Videos that don’t provide any fresh info or insight aren’t engaging to watch. And unhelpful chatbots that leave candidates feeling like they’re trapped in a never-ending customer service call devoid of any real human interaction… Well, that one’s self-explanatory.
If you really want to improve candidate engagement, commit to it—don’t just tease candidates with surface-level upgrades. (In a future article, we’ll be taking a closer look at one of the most frequently misused candidate engagement upgrades, gamification, to help you truly take the candidate experience to the next level.)
The bottom line? Increasing candidate engagement improves the experience for everyone, encouraging high-quality candidates to apply and helping unqualified applicants self-select out of the process.
Avoid these 5 mistakes and create a truly engaging candidate experience. You do not need to do it alone, there are solutions available that can help.
At career.place, we’re dedicated to revolutionizing the hiring process, helping you keep candidates invested, engaged, and informed at every step. Our software solution gives candidates the opportunity to prove their chops while giving you the tools to find the best person for the job, letting you create filters based on what really matters.