For candidates, applying and interviewing for jobs represents a significant investment of time and energy. It also reflects their hopes for a better future and may mean leaving the security of an existing organisation. It’s a hugely personal experience. Every touchpoint, delay or delight with a potential employer strongly influences a candidate’s views and actions.

Delivering a superior experience creates a strong competitive advantage, which helps you hire the best talent and win the respect of unsuccessful applicants.

Are employers taking action?

Our research, conducted in partnership with Changeboard, reveals organisations understand the value of making a lasting, positive impression on potential hires during the recruitment process.

Some 91.4% of the senior HR professionals surveyed agreed that “the quality of candidate experience has a direct impact on quality of hire”. However, just 42.2% evaluate their current candidate experience, which represents missed opportunities for improvement.

Improving experience

Priorities for boosting candidate experience focused on improving communication and responsiveness during the recruitment process, and enhancing initial application procedures. One respondent commented: “We survey every candidate who has interviewed with us, even if they are not offered a role.”

A third of employers (34.4%) regard ‘the interview’ as the most important evaluation priority for candidate experience, with 23.4% prioritising the application process.

However, it’s important to view the candidate journey from their initial engagement with your brand. One of their first actions will be to conduct research online.

Employers who fail to optimise their website, social media platforms and have a laissez-faire attitude to employee advocacy (or opposition) may be losing the war for talent before they have a chance to engage personally.

Map, design, measure

The re-design of the candidate journey can seem daunting. But it doesn’t need to be done all at once. Start by mapping the overall candidate journey into phases (Fig 1). For each, list the critical touchpoints and evaluate them from the candidate’s perspective.

Once you’ve identified potential opportunities for improvement, separate them into quick wins: short-, mid- and long-term goals. This is your development roadmap.

Fig 1.
Fig. 1: The Talent Journey

A holistic approach

Remember, candidates are motivated by both extrinsic and intrinsic drivers when considering employment. It’s best to showcase workplaces in an holistic way, rather than focusing purely on roles, pay and benefits.

The recruitment process must be two-way, enabling employer and applicant to assess one another fully, to understand whether they share the same values and beliefs.

Consider how you can personalise your process; how to make all relevant information available online and how to use touchpoints to build engagement. And remember to give candidates an accurate representation of the company they are applying to.

Ultimately, to improve your candidate experience, you’ll need to listen to, and act on, candidate feedback, and truly understand what ‘good’ looks like from an applicant’s perspective.

Discover more insights and tips in Cielo's exclusive report.

This article originally appeared on Changeboard.