The End of the Candidate Journey Should Start at the Beginning

End of candidate journey should start at the beginning

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The candidate journey begins with hope, anticipation and faith. Candidates hope they get the job, anticipate how their lives will change if they get the job, and have faith that they will be respected and earnestly considered for the position.

But we all know how the candidate journey ends for most candidates…

Rejection is the sad truth of what recruiters do. We disappoint more people than we deliver. Orders of magnitude more. It can’t be helped. But that disappointment isn’t the end of the world   and it shouldn’t be the end of the relationship, as long as candidates are treated well. 

The Candidate Journey Begins With the Application and Ends in Rejection

The application is the first point where organizations know the candidate’s identity so it becomes the first point at which the employer can affect a candidate’s journey. Of course there should be a fast and easy way for the candidate to apply, and there should be a follow up acknowledgement. But it’s not too early to think of the end of the candidate journey within that application acknowledgement email or text message.

End of candidate journey should start at the beginning Talent Acquisition teams do themselves no favors by ignoring the fact that MOST applicants will get rejected. Read your employer brand statement. Does it say anything about avoiding uncomfortable truths? Your company probably values things like respect, honesty, compassion and the like.

It is better to be up front with applicants and explain how your process works, what they can expect from you and what they should not expect from you. And you should have a feedback mechanism in place for ensuring you track and meet these expectations. This is where you set the stage for a respectful rejection. This is how you maximize the value of your rejected talent in your talent pool. This is how you make your employer brand a tangible tool for hiring and retention.

Consider developing a candidate experience pledge like the one below. A pledge that explains your process, sets expectations and describes how you will ensure that your company meets those expectations. A pledge that is straightforward with candidates and clearly states that the end of the process for the majority of candidates will be rejection. 

That way, when and if that rejection notification is received, you can refer to that initial pledge, reminding candidates of what you told them up front. This won’t eliminate disappointment, but if executed correctly, including a way to track and optimize your performance against this pledge, it can only have a positive effect on your candidate satisfaction, employer brand and hiring effectiveness.

An Example Candidate Experience Pledge

At ACME, we understand that only one person can fill the role you applied for and that means that many skilled applicants may be disappointed.

ACME has several stages in the candidate journey, including an application review, at least one phone interview with a member of our talent acquisition team, an assessment stage, and at least one interview with a hiring manager or supervisor. Sometimes there are multiple second level interviews. Not all candidates will advance through the entire process.

We pledge that each application will be reviewed and each applicant will be notified as soon as possible as to whether or not they will move to the next stage. Depending on how deep into the process an applicant gets, this notification will come via email, phone or both. Please check your spam filters if you do not see an email from us. If a candidate does not move to the next stage of our process, it is not because we don’t value their qualifications. In fact, our team regularly searches our internal list of past candidates when new opportunities become available.

For that reason, we want to make sure that each candidate is treated with respect and transparency. Each candidate will receive short pulse surveys while they go through our hiring process so we can help ensure we are  executing against this pledge. We review candidate feedback data regularly to improve our processes and investigate circumstances where a candidate feels we’ve fallen short or our pledge to respect and transparency.

This example is provided as a jumping off point. Of course, candidate communication can be a bit tricky, so please have a legal team review any candidate experience pledges you create. But the value of a pledge can be immense. Clarifying your hiring process, setting expectations and following through by gathering feedback can increase candidate NPS, maximize your employer brand, and boost the value of your past candidate talent pools.

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