October 13, 2010

Candidate Experience: A Waste of Time? NOT!

In his recent blog, Tim Sackett suggests HR may be wasting its time with focus on the candidate experience.  I beg to differ.

Tim suggests great companies to work for are hard to get into because they hire the best.  Being able to hire the best is a result of not only a great candidate experience, but also a great recruiter experience.

Both the candidate and the recruiter need an experience that improves their ability to decide if this job opportunity is a good fit.  Companies that do not pay attention to the candidate experience are more challenged to make the best hiring decision because they have not designed a process that obtains the best data to make the most informed decision.

The candidate experience, may not be the main focus of recruiting process design, but it does offer an opportunity to differentiate.  A recent comment one of our clients received from a candidate completing their Virtual Job Tryout tells some of the story: “You guys need to talk with (competitor), their application process is terrible, this is really cool!”

Candidates in the job market compare and contrast the companies they are considering.  The candidate’s experience can be neutral,  act as a repellant, or an attractant.

Great companies to work for are great companies because they manage their entire Brand: product, service and employment.  In many cases, a candidate can be or might be a customer as well.  The candidate experience can impact the nature of the customer relationship.  A well designed candidate expereince can leave the candidate with a more favorable inclination toward the company.

As for uncomfortable with being measured, that cannot be more true when it comes to the candidate experience. In the Staffing Metrics and Performance Benchmarks Survey from First Resource it is reported that fewer than 3% of companies have a candidate experience measurement in place. 

Tim writes about measurement like its a bad thing. Without measurment, a process cannot be managed.  And the absence of measurement obscures accountability.  The important thing is to measure that which drives business results. 100% of companies with a Virtual Job Tryout measure the candidate experience.  However, it is the validation analysis based upon data from the candidate experience that documents how effective the candidate experience is at improving the quality of  hire.

Many great companies want and deliver a candidate experience as unique as their brand.  However, not all great companies want to be the target for resume spam or too many poor fit candidates.   Companies in general find they are not interested in 90 to 95% of the individuals who apply.  As such, they build an engaging, educational experience that both adds an element of challenge while obtaining better candidate data that provides internal decision support.  Great companies realize the candidate experience and the recruiter experience go hand-in-hand.

If the candidate experience is all about attraction, then it may be a waste of time.  However, if the candidate experience is about smart decision making, great accountability and the competitive differentiation, I think it deserves a great deal of attention.

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2 Responses to “Candidate Experience: A Waste of Time? NOT!”

  1. [...] Candidate Experience: A Waste of Time? NOT! | A Reply to Tim Sachett [...]

  2. Tim Sackett says:

    I didn’t exactly say that “Candidate Experience” is a waste of time – what I said was that most companies who are focusing on Candidate Experience – are focusing on the wrong thing – they have larger issues in their HR Shop – then the Candidate Experience.

    Put it this way – bad Candidate Experience is a symptom of a much larger issue you have in your organization – you don’t cure cancer by putting a wig on when your hair falls out. Organizations that have a bad Candidate Experience – have issues with leadership, training, culture, etc. These need to be addressed before you worry about Candidate Experience. That was the intent of the post.

    Also, I’m fairly certain that I never wrote anything about Measurement being a bad thing – in fact when I present later this year the HR Metrics Summit – I’m positive that isn’t my take. The issue I have with measurement and HR – is when HR Pros measure something subjective (like Candidate Experience) and then try to sell it to their executive team as something substantial, when it is not. Think about the mind set of a candidate – applying for job, want the job, will do anything to get the job – oh, wait, they are asking me questions about this experience – do you really feel you are getting a true take on the experience they are having? Not likely.

    This topic does make for very good banter, though!