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Candidate Experience strengthens employer branding

04/01/2024 2024/01

What companies can do to put employees and candidates first

In an age of constant online presence, the ability to review employers on Kununu or Glassdoor, and the speed of the internet, a company can hardly afford bad reviews from employees or applicants. It is no longer possible to sweep negative reviews under the carpet. If something is not going well in a company, if employees do not feel valued, or if candidates feel unfairly treated during the application process, that experience is likely to be shared with others. Everything is posted, linked, liked, commented or rated on a daily basis. A positive reputation should be so important to employers that they focus on their employees and applicants so that they speak positively about their employer to friends and family and recommend them to others. The focus should be on their own employees, but also on potential candidates.

What is the candidate experience?

The candidate experience encompasses all the interactions a candidate has with an organisation throughout the application process. This ranges from the initial contact, through the application and interviews, to the final decision. A positive candidate experience not only makes a good impression on the candidate, but can also have a far-reaching impact on a company's reputation as an employer.

The importance to employer branding

A positive candidate experience makes your organisation more attractive to potential talent. Candidates often share their experiences on social media and review platforms, which can help position your company as a desirable employer.

To stand out from the crowd, you need to stand out in a positive way. Enthusiastic candidates are more likely to share their positive experiences with friends, family and their professional networks. This word-of-mouth recommendation can help raise your organisation's profile and position it as a place with a supportive and respectful work environment.

A positive candidate experience lays the foundation for a lasting relationship between the potential employee and the organisation. Even if candidates are unsuccessful at the first attempt, the positive impressions they make may lead them to consider your organisation again in the future.

Candidate experience starts with the job ad

The positive experience starts with the first contact between the candidate and the company. The first contact is usually through a job advertisement, a job post on the internet or on social media channels. The design of the job advertisement alone determines whether a candidate wants to find out more about the company or not. However, a realistic job description and clear information about the role are also essential to attract potential candidates. This is where the candidate experience comes into play. If the candidate feels addressed and can identify with the company at this first point of contact, then the company has done everything right with the job advertisement. Because then the first hurdle has been overcome and the candidate will continue to engage with this potential employer and, in the best case scenario, apply or recommend the company to others.

The much-vaunted skills shortage was already being felt in HR departments before the coronavirus crisis. A few years ago, a standard job advertisement was enough and companies did not have to think too much about how to advertise. Today, however, in order to receive suitable applications, companies need to come up with something to attract candidates and to retain and satisfy existing employees. Candidates today and in the future are more demanding, more impatient and, above all, more in demand.

Benefits at the heart of the candidate experience

Employers are becoming more attractive by offering benefits that add value to potential employees' personal and professional lives. For Gen Y and Gen Z, the job itself is no longer the end-all, be-all, but rather a work-life balance, or even better, a work-life blending. Quality of life, self-fulfilment and freedom are important to this generation. Their expectations of a new employer are accordingly high. 

Open-ended employment contracts, respectful communication, regulated working hours and clear processes are important to candidates from this generation. Employers should also remember that this target group are 'digital natives' who are used to instant feedback and digital processes. These candidates often expect immediate feedback on their application. Mobile-optimised services, such as apps or messenger platforms, can help by sending jobs to the target group via push messages and automatic status messages about the application.

Our tips for a successful candidate experience

Many organisations have room for improvement when it comes to the candidate experience. The assumption that only candidates need to make an effort is long outdated. To help you attract the best talent, we have put together some valuable tips for you:

  • Prompt response: Respond to initial contacts, applications and enquiries within a few days. Prompt responses show appreciation and interest.
  • Personalise and individualise communications: Personalise and individualise your written communication with candidates. Avoid standardised letters, except when confirming receipt of application materials.
  • Communicate at eye level:Treat candidates as equals and show your appreciation. Respectful communication is essential.
  • Honesty and authenticity:Be honest and authentic in your communications. Authenticity builds trust and promotes a positive candidate experience.
  • A clear and structured application process: Ensure a clear and well-structured application process to guide applicants.
  • Career site optimisation: Update your careers site with ease of use, engaging images, employee testimonials and clear information about company values.
  • Appealing job adverts: Make job adverts attractive. They should include key information such as a company description, job title, job description, requirements, benefits and contact details.
  • Contact with unsuccessful applicants: Keep in touch with unsuccessful candidates. A talent pool can be useful for future vacancies.
  • Explain the application process transparently: Explain the application process transparently to candidates to promote clarity and understanding. 
  • Treat candidates like customers: Treat candidates with the same care and attention as customers. A positive experience contributes to a positive company image.

ARTS supports your employer branding strategy

At ARTS, the candidate experience is lived in every HR communication process: Our recruitment team ensures that candidates receive rapid feedback on their applications and aims to ensure that every candidate has a positive experience throughout the entire journey, from their first contact with ARTS, through the job advertisement and communication, to joining the company. We believe that by prioritising the candidate experience as well as the employee experience in your HR marketing, you are more likely to be perceived as an attractive employer. As part of our HR consulting services, we advise companies on how to develop a candidate-centric HR marketing strategy and how to maintain a consistent employer image across careers sites, social networks, job adverts and all other communication channels. For the HR strategy to work, all content must meet the expectations of the target audience and be consistent.

As an experienced employer branding agency, we can help you improve your candidate experience through a sound employer branding strategy. Our approach is based on the understanding that employer perception has a significant impact on the talent an organisation attracts and retains. By developing bespoke employer branding strategies and implementing appropriate employer branding measures, we focus on holistically managing the employee journey - from first contact with the organisation through to onboarding.

Our expertise covers all facets of employer branding, from defining corporate values and designing engaging career sites to maintaining a consistent presence on social networks and other relevant communication channels. We see ourselves as your partner in building an authentic and positive employer brand.

If you would like to find out how attractive you are as an employer, take our free self-test. You will receive valuable insights and customised recommendations from our experts to improve your employer brand and position yourself as an attractive employer.

Shape your candidate experience with us and contact us today.

About the Author
Sally Kießling
Employer Branding Consultant

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