How Dent Wizard Won a Candidate Experience Award and Why It Doesn’t Matter

(Note: The following article was reprinted with permission from Survale client, Dent Wizard)

When I started as the leader of Talent Acquisition and Strategy at Dent Wizard, it was clear to me that candidate experience was perhaps the most important factor for increasing our ability to hire the right people.

Dent Wizard is not the largest or sexiest brand out there, but to our core target segment, entrepreneurial professionals in the body, paint, repair and detail business, it’s the only game in town. It’s an industry leader. And, within that target segment, bad candidate experience gets noticed and shared very quickly, virtually killing our ability to source and hire within regions tainted with bad candidate experience.

After making some changes internally and implementing some software for measuring and understanding candidate experience, Dent Wizard was ready to throw our hat in the ring to compete for the Talent Board’s annual Candidate Experience Award.

We won the award the first time we entered.

Candidate experience awardSince then, I am frequently asked by colleagues interested in doing the same, how we did it. So I thought I’d chronicle our approach in writing, but I also want to be clear that the award pales in comparison to the benefits that come from actively measuring, managing and improving your candidate experience. When I say the award “doesn’t matter,” that’s really to get you to read the article. It does provide recognition to your team, your candidate and colleagues that you’ve accomplished a difficult task.

But at the end of the day, we at Dent Wizard understand our candidate experience from first website visit to year one of employment. We actively manage our process and team using experiential data gathered from candidates in real time. We use feedback from candidates, hiring managers and recruiters to align our efforts and understand what’s working and what can be improved. That’s the most important award.

Winning a Candidate Experience Award

We began our candidate experience journey by making basic, intuitive changes to our process and training. Making application processes easier, auditing communications coming from our ATS… the obvious changes.

Then we implemented some technology that allows us to gather feedback from candidates after every interaction with us, whether the interaction is online or in person. The feedback is in real time and is anchored to steps in our process so we can keep surveys short and come back with actionable feedback.

We set up index metrics for key variables like candidate satisfaction, employer brand affinity, and Net Promoter score. Then we measured them at each phase of the hiring process so we could see how they evolved from application to phone screen to interview to offer, etc.

We use these key indexes to track larger trends and used the free form text comments to understand exactly what’s happening to affect these indexes (something that the bottleneck report in my ATS just can’t do!).

If it sounds like too much surveying, I will say that there are solutions out there that do all this automatically. My team just works as they normally would, but we have analytics that show us where the wins and losses are along the way. They key is to use very short, pulse surveys that are anchored to a specific transaction.

One of the first things you’ll learn is that job seekers are stunned that anyone cares about what they think. Your candidate satisfaction scores will increase pretty much immediately. The second thing you’ll learn is that your hiring managers probably need more training. They are the face of your organization, in most cases, and despite how much you feel like you’ve prepared them for the hiring role. It’s not their core competence and they need to be consistently trained.

Plus, your recruiters and hiring managers are not always in alignment. We now gather feedback from hiring managers about recruiters and use this feedback in performance management and comp for our recruiters.

You’ll also learn a lot about your offers and what is behind acceptance and rejection of those offers.

But the best part is that you have HARD DATA to support the kinds of changes you need to make. I mean, the kind of experiential data that no one else in your organization has access to. You’ll know exactly where the problems are, and you’ll have unprecedented data to give to leadership to justify and fund solutions. You can have a comp conversation with your CFO because you have the data. You can lobby for tools to speed your time to hire because you have the data.

What About the CandE Award?

Notice I haven’t talked about winning a CandE yet. In my experience, once you’ve put this kind of feedback-based recruiting process in place, winning a CandE is as easy as filling out your application and sending the Talent Board’s survey out to your candidates. Truth be told, our feedback platform is the same one the Talent Board uses. As such, they’ll even send your surveys out for you (though we did it the old-fashioned way ourselves).

Make no mistake, our CandE Award has been amazing recognition for what the Dent Wizard recruiting team has put into place and what we’ve accomplished. No question.

At the same time, the feedback-based recruiting process we use day-in and day-out provides us up to the minute data, enables data driven strategies, supports organizational alignment, amplifies our employer brand, aligns our recruiters and hiring managers, and helps us win our market by making it easier to keep our company staffed with the right employees.

What I want you to take away?

Asking the questions, looking at the feedback and taking even small actions to provide a better candidate experience is worth it to your organization. It also adds value to the personal image of each recruiter and hiring manager. Winning awards is a great feeling for you and your team. However, as I have proven, the awards will come with a successful talent strategy that includes a focus on candidate experience.

About Tony Suzda:

Tony Suzda is an experienced leader in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Talent Strategy and HRIS. He has a passion for ensuring top notch candidate experience that attracts top talent into the organization. Tony has led many high-profile projects for both private and public companies related to recruiting systems, process development, candidate experience/engagement and talent strategy. Through many of his initiatives, he has been able to show increases in quality of hire, candidate satisfaction, manager satisfaction and brand affinity.

About Dent Wizard:

St. Louis-based Dent Wizard is North America’s largest provider of automotive reconditioning services and vehicle protection products, such as paintless dent repair, minor wheel and paint refinishing, interior repair and key replacement, in-transit repair, hail and catastrophe services and related F&I products.

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