How Do I Create a Positive Applicant Experience?


Time is money for everyone—job seekers and recruiters alike. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re all searching for a simplified (yet still effective) way to do things. A recruiter needs an efficient way to bring in the best talent, and applicants need employment. Seems straight forward enough, right? The caveat is that recruiting and job seeking are both time consuming. In fact, many applicants and recruiters would likely argue their role can be daunting and time consuming at the same time.

In recent months, there has even been some discussion regarding bad applicant experiences and how they can negatively impact a brand’s position. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way for either party.

This is where applicant tracking systems come into play. Designed to centralize and automate hiring workflows, applicant tracking can improve process efficiency by allowing recruiters to automate tasks, quickly review applications and manage interviews, among many other things. But, without a pleasant applicant experience, recruiters aren’t leveraging the full value and benefits of recruiting software, and they aren’t attracting or retaining the best talent.

According to HireRight’s 2013 benchmark report, improving the applicant experience is high on the recruiter’s agenda. But, where does one start when it comes to selecting an applicant tracking system or customizing an existing system in such a way that delivers the most value and the best experience for candidates?

For starters, if you don’t already have a tracking system, this guide outlines some key considerations you should make before choosing one. Once you have the right system in place, here are three things you should do to make sure your hiring process and applicant tracking system are creating the best applicant experience possible:

#1 Be Creative and Responsive

It’s true; applicant tracking systems are technical in nature. But there are systems that allow recruiters to be creative and customize tasks such as application responses and follow-up emails. Just because a response is automated doesn’t mean it has to be generic. Break up the monotony and get personal with your automated communications. Craft content that applicants want to read. And keep candidates in the loop by informing them of the status of their applications. Don’t leave them hanging.

#2 Give Job Seekers Reasons to Apply

Beyond simply seeking employment, candidates need to know why your job opening is worth applying for. Don’t be afraid to brag about your company’s mission and culture and why it’s a desirable place to work. Take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your employment brand and what sets it apart from others.

#3 Write Informative Job Descriptions (and Be Flexible)

There’s nothing worse than reading an ambiguous job listing. Make sure you explain the attributes of the position and how the role plays an integral part within your organization. Show what a day at the office would be like by creating and sharing a “day in the life” recruiting video or including a short description. If you have specific qualifications and/or challenges tied to the position, explain them but also be flexible with certain requirements. For example, if you make qualifications “mandatory” you could miss out on a top candidate who doesn’t follow through with the application because she only meet four of the five job requirements.

Beyond making sure your applicant tracking system allows you to customize and automate the right tasks, you need to make sure your recruiting team is 100 percent on board. To attract the best talent you need the best talent. One of the best ways to identify top candidates is by making sure your recruiting staff is experienced and enthusiastic about your brand and what they do. If your recruiters aren’t excited about it, why should applicants be?

At the end of the day, the hiring process requires two-way communication—so start off on the right foot. Create a pleasant experience that’s sure to drive the best talent, while highlighting your brand’s professionalism and unique differentiators. Be the company applicants talk about—in a good way.



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