Over the past few years, according to members of The Society for Human Resource Management, there has been a trend toward hiring quickly and cheaply rather than focusing upon the overall candidate experience. While quick and cheap sounds good in the short term, it’s important to examine whether this shift really is beneficial or if it could actually prove to be problematic.

The Importance of Candidate Experience

While the organization is undoubtedly in control during the hiring process, the power gap between it and the candidate isn’t quite as big as it may appear. We can see this by taking a look at review websites and social media platforms, both of which have placed word-of-mouth marketing firmly back into the spotlight. A report by Zendesk, for example, shows that while 45% of us are likely to share a bad consumer experience on social media, only 30% of us will share a positive experience. Candidates should be thought of as consumers (as often they are one and the same).

Any experience or interaction with a company carries with it the possibility of being shared online. Thanks to the rise in digital marketing, e-word-of-mouth (eWOM), and social networking, recruitment today isn’t just about finding a suitable candidate – it’s also about promotion, marketing and reputation management. That’s why many businesses are now looking into recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) as a means of achieving quick and cost-efficient hiring, without compromising on candidate experience.

Candidate Experience and Return on Investment

Research shows that candidate experience isn’t just beneficial for the company in terms of marketing, it also helps provide a better return on investment (ROI) with each hire. More than 90% of HR managers claim that the better the candidate experience, the better the quality of hire. But how does this improve ROI? Well, it seems that it’s all about a basic human emotion: happiness. A study by the University of Warwick shows that happy employees are roughly 12% more productive in the workplace than their unhappy counterparts. Interestingly, Aberdeen Group research indicates that the cumulative effect of this is that organizations with a happy and engaged workforce are 40% more productive than counterpart organizations, ultimately leading to greater profit.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Remember that comment about candidates also being consumers? Well, the reality proved to be a costly revelation for Virgin Media when their rejected/letdown candidates – who also happened to be customers – left in droves (7,500 of them to be exact). The cost to the business was estimated at a whopping $5.7 million.

Understandably, this got the attention of the executive team who backed a program to re-engineer the candidate experience and protect their revenue streams. Virgin Media partnered with Ph. Creative to review, re-map and re-design their experience, starting with a deep understanding of human behavior and using this to shape the design and use of technology as well as process and personal touch. They now estimate the new program could be worth $6.9 million in terms of protected revenue and new profit. Now, that’s a return on investment!

The Candidate Experience Problem

Two of the main issues affecting candidate experience today are engagement and communications, with HR Dive reporting that 89% of candidates believe organizations are not very good at providing useful feedback, 72% claiming they are not sensitive enough to existing work commitments, and that they stick them with a 14-minute average wait time for an interview.

A lack of both time and the availability of internal resources can be attributed to all of these complaints, which is another reason RPO recruiting is becoming increasingly common among growing businesses. It just works better for them to rely on skilled, efficient HR experts to handle the time-consuming aspects of talent acquisition.

Measuring Candidate Experience

According to recent research that Cielo undertook in partnership with Changeboard, nearly half of all businesses that are hiring claim not to measure candidate experience, even though it could significantly affect quality of hire and the future ROI. This is where RPO comes in, allowing businesses to receive feedback about the candidate experience, and then use that to fine tune their interviewing techniques. This can ensure that both the candidate and the business are benefiting.

First impressions count, but it’s not just first impressions of the candidate we need to consider – it’s also the first impressions of the business.

This post was contributed by Dawn Hollingworth, Cielo’s Director of Brand Strategy & Creative Services. You can connect with Dawn on LinkedIn.