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Why the Candidates You Reject Are Just as Important as the Ones You Hire

By Liz Gelb-O’Connor, VP Global Employer Brand & Marketing, ADP

Employer branding can be a tricky thing in today’s increasingly noisy communications market. Companies no longer have the luxury of keeping a tight grip on the public’s perception. Where businesses were once able to largely control their own reputation through public communications, in the digital age, employer brand is much more intricate and complicated. Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed have democratized information on salary, culture, and overall workplace experience. Meanwhile, social media has proliferated wider public conversation and interaction with all businesses and brands.

Many companies know these things, and often, they will focus on ensuring great brand experience for clients, consumers and employees. However, one demographic can easily be forgotten: job candidates.

The need to provide a successful candidate experience is three-fold. First, the ever-increasing war for talent demands companies put their best foot forward in order to secure top candidates. Second, companies then need to keep their promises – ADP’s recent study Evolution of Work 2.0 found that a whopping 60 percent of employees globally said they have left a job if it did not live up to initial expectations. Third and finally, candidates who don’t accept a position at a company should still walk away with a positive brand experience. This is vital in an age where the Internet has allowed word of mouth to travel far and wide.

Recruitment is a nuanced and often stressful process for both the hiring manager and candidate, but it’s an important process to get it right. Here are a few ways to improve your company’s candidate experience:

Treat every candidate like a client.

The candidate experience starts at the moment of awareness about a company or employer all the way through the hiring or rejection of a candidate. What’s commonly missed in the equation is the rejection portion. The goal should be to treat every candidate as a client and make sure they walk away a raving fan. A positive candidate experience can contribute to positive buzz on social media, boosting employer brand and create future clients, while a negative experience can hurt an employer’s reputation and push future clients to purchase a competitor’s products.

Take advantage of touchpoints.

Throughout the recruitment and interview process, there are certain small moments that can be leveraged to keep candidates engaged and interested in your company. The first touchpoint is often the career page of a company’s website. This page should be easy to navigate, concise, and help the candidate know more about the company’s culture. Next is preparation for the interview. The hiring managers should clearly communicate the process and timeline for selection of the position, and this is also an opportunity to share with a candidate a few blurbs about what is the company is currently working on. The interview itself should be treated as a two-way street. Here, shared culture should be emphasized and demonstrated. This is an opportunity to introduce the candidate to future teammates. Finally, don’t make the candidate have to continually follow-up. Frequent communication after the fact – even if it’s just, “No decision yet, will be in touch shortly,”—will go a long way for a candidate as will personal communication of final hiring decision, including rejections, if the candidate has taken the time to participate in in-person interviews.

Leverage your best assets: your employees.

Employees are your best brand ambassadors. Candidate experience bleeds into employee experience and is connected to longer-term employee advocacy. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of people trust the recommendation of their family, friends, and people they know. If a company has established a strong culture, that will be evidence in how employees speak about and advocate for the brand. Positive advocacy from your employee base could potentially bring top talent in the door.

Negative candidate experience can be a burden on companies that will eventually erode an employer’s brand and reputation. In an increasingly competitive talent market, industry-leading companies need to step up their employer brand and candidate experience in order to keep up with the pace and demands of the current talent market.

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