Mapping the Candidate Journey: 5 Steps to Start

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More firms than ever before are stepping up to map out their candidate journey. They are going beyond guesswork and generalized opinion pieces to dig deeper into their candidates’ attitudes and behaviors after applying for a position. Believing that it is important to treat each candidate as well as one treats customers is one thing. Executing a defined strategy to do so supported by data is another.

TalentBoard is closing out the 7th North American Candidate Experience Awards campaign this month. Employers with the highest candidate ratings will be announced in September and an annual CandE Symposium on Candidate Experience emphasizing case studies of firms that demonstrate the greatest results will take place in Nashville, TN October 2, 2017. Join us (especially if you haven’t participated in the past and learn why hundreds of firms participate each year and the insights they get from the results).

Here are five steps we find critical to building a successful candidate journey.

Step 1. Measure Your Baseline

Every position eventually must be closed. When that day is at hand, professionally inform all who applied and then send an additional automated message to all noting the following in your own words: “However far you got in the process, we respect your interest in joining us and are committed to improving the experience of others including your experience if you didn't receive an offer and someday soon re-apply. We would truly appreciate it if you share with us anonymously the answer to this single question: ‘Given your recent experience applying for [make it multiple choice to identify 4 or 5 broad job areas] would you Refer others you felt were qualified to apply?’”

Responses should be the numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4 with #1 anchored by the phrase: “I will go out of my way to dissuade others from applying to [name of your company].” Anchor the response to #4 with a similar phrase: “I will go out of my way to encourage others to apply to [name of your company].” Subtract the % who respond to 1 from the % who respond to 4 and you have a number we call cNPS or Candidate Net Promoter Score. Your cNPS could range from -100 to +100 (note: this is not a traditional approach to NPS). Anything above 0 means you have more Attractors than Detractors. Anything above +20 and you are among the top 20% of firms in how you treat candidates. Above 50 and you are among the top 1-2%. (note: this assumes 80% of your respondents weren’t hired. Finalists, by the way, should be called not just surveyed). You might also want to have an optional text block asking for suggestions on improvement.

[Measuring Candidate Experience: Making NPS your Baseline]

Step 2. Map Candidate Touchpoints

Take care to look at your touch points from a candidate’s point of view. Throw out your workflow and step into their shoes. Imagine what choices they transition through. One candidate taxonomy could be when...

  • ...I was aware of you [First Visit],
  • ...I was interested in our shared values [joined, responded, returned]
  • ...I was ‘engaged’ [Applied]
  • ...I was capable [Qualified]
  • ...I was competitive [Finalist]
  • ...I was selected [Pre-boarding]

What do recruiters do at each phase to drive the next and inform the candidate about their options: transparently setting expectations, listening and answering questions and concerns, being accountable for the experience as well as the outcome, demonstrating the process is a fair one and ensuring closure.

Step 3. Prioritize Opportunities

The easiest approach is a SWOT analysis with all stakeholders (recruiters, hiring managers, recent new hires, etc.) participating to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the most important recruiting phases and the most important problems areas. Critical job families, quality of hire, conversion and retention concerns and other performance and business indicators should help determine decisions about which touch points to work on.

[The Consumer Candidate: a Recruiting Chat with Chris Hoyt & Jess Von Bank]

Step 4. Brainstorm solutions

Add your partners in sourcing, technology, and branding into this discussion if your internal players aren't strong contributors.

Step 5. Execute

Unique to every employer. Be sure to establish set times to measure results and compare new and old baselines.

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Gerry Crispin
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Gerry co-authored eight books on the evolution of staffing and has written 100s of articles and whitepapers on similar topics during a career in Human Resources that spans more than 40 years from HR leadership positions at Johnson and Johnson; to boutique Executive Search firms; a Career Services Director at the University where he received his Engineering and 2 advanced degrees in Organizational/Industrial Behavior; and, GM of a major recruitment advertising firm even as he launched CareerXroads 20 years ago.

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