Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about mapping the candidate journey. It is one of the first steps you need to complete in order to improve your candidate experience. However, this involves more than just going out and applying to one of your own jobs, or creating a flow diagram of the steps involved in a candidate's journey.
If you are truly mapping the candidate journey, you need to completely immerse yourself into the candidate’s shoes, seeing things from their perspective. That includes identifying what your candidates are thinking and feeling at each stage in the process.
I often get a blank stare when making this statement. I think it’s because in talent acquisition we say "no" to candidates so often, we begin to get cynical and believe that only the candidate who gets the job will feel great, and everyone else - not so much.
Let me give you a quick example of why identifying what your candidates are thinking and feeling is so important in your candidate journey map.
Before a candidate applies to a job they might research a company, read employee testimonials, or see if they connect with your company mission. They are invested in your brand. They fantasize about what it will be like to work there, and then they find a job that they think is perfect for them. They spend hours of time preparing a perfect resume and cover letter, jumping through all the hoops of submitting an application.
At this stage, the candidate might be thinking: Did the application go through? Will they like my resume? Will I get selected? They are most likely feeling multiple emotions including excitement, anxiousness, and a little nervousness for sure.
Now that we have a baseline understanding of the mental state of the candidate as they complete an application, let’s think about what type of experience is often being delivered by the company at this moment.
Here are two very common scenarios.
- Recruiters are busy. We often get so many applicants for one position that we cannot even look at them all, let alone manually push out a reject email. So, the ATS system is set to send the emails automatically, but only when the job is filled. Sometimes this can be several months after the candidate’s application. This is also known as the proverbial black hole. A simple “no thank you” at this stage is much better than leaving candidates hanging for months on end.
- On the other side, some companies supercharge their ATS, and utilize knock out screening questions. Within 30 seconds of the application submission, the candidate gets a reject email. While this is extremely efficient for the recruiter, it’s a kick in the teeth to the candidate. They now know for a fact that no human will be evaluating their carefully crafted resume they spent hours perfecting late last night.
Whoever was responsible for setting up either of these systems definitely didn’t take into consideration how a candidate might be feeling in the process. Although every company is different, the experience you provide when saying “no” has to be executed in the right way, and realistic expectations must be set with your candidates.
Even if your interview and selection process takes longer, sometimes it’s as simple as telling a candidate, “It typically takes us around 2-3 weeks to review resumes and provide feedback on next steps.” This can be a key differentiator in the experience, impacting how your candidate is thinking and feeling in the process.
Keep in mind that the post-application communication is most crucial, because it is the step in the process where we, as recruiters, say "no" to candidates the most. Knowing how and when to say "no" truly matters.