Human Resources Today

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candidate experience


How to Think Like a Marketer

It all comes down to marketing. When a political candidate is lobbying for votes, he’s campaigning. I would argue he’s marketing. When a lawyer makes it to partner, she’s no longer practicing law, she’s marketing the firm’s services to bring in new business. When a recruiter is seeking out candidates, he’s recruiting. I call that marketing. We could all use a lesson or two in marketing because it applies to a heck of a lot. Most professionals in the HR space are not trained marketers. But so much of what we do involves the core of marketing. Instead, we think marketing is all consumer facing, but it’s just as important to market a company to both candidates and employees (and even alumni!) as it is to consumers.

We’ve talked about the importance of the link between HR and marketing. To help speak the language a little better, here are some tips to help you think like a marketer when marketing your employer brand.



The Physical Candidate Experience and Your Employer Brand

Just a few of the candles I bought from Anthropologie While I do adore online shopping and its convenience, I don’t think I could give up an afternoon of walking into physical retail shops – feeling the clothes, smelling the perfumes, or testing out make-up – it’s part of the experience that stimulates the senses.

Part of what makes me enter into some stores and not others is the physical experience. Some stores have thought of everything, and I get a warm feeling when I go into them. That’s just what they want. You make judgments and form opinions on the experiences you have when you eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, or go to a football game. Candidates are making those same judgments and forming those same opinions when they enter your offices for a day of interviewing.

The candidate experience has many different components – I’m just going to focus this post on the physical candidate experience - the experience a candidate has when he/she visits an office for interviews. It’s the first face-to-face, physical contact they likely have with your employer brand, and it’s an important one.

Back to my shopping analogy – a great example of experiential shopping is Anthropologie. The very first thing you see are the window displays –unique and elaborate. You’re instantly intrigued. The moment you walk through the doors, you’re hit with the powerful smell of their scented candles, a sweet- but not too sweet- floral, feminine scent (I even bought one so my apartment could smell like the store). You feel like you’re in someone’s living room with the way the products are displayed. They don’t appear to be set out to be purchased, rather they are casually draped on tables like a cozy blanket thrown over the back of a couch.

This store isn’t for everyone. Some people hate the smell and would not dream of owning quirky measuring spoons or $200 satin shorts, but it’s appealing to a certain demographic--just like great recruiting should. The shopping experience reflects the brand. It’s selling a lifestyle, not just products.

It’s proven that brand experience increases customer loyalty. That same notion can be applied to the candidate experience. A candidate walks into your building, nervous, unsure what the day will bring. Every step he takes inside your building… every person he interacts with…every gesture that is given to him…he is making a judgment on whether he would fit in at your company. If that’s true, does it reflect your employer brand and the culture you live everyday?

I once heard of a college admissions office baking chocolate chip cookies right in the office to give to applicants who were interviewing. Genius idea! A nervous 17 -year old kid who is about to experience one of the most important interviews of his life walks into the admissions office…and smells chocolate chip cookies - the quintessential food and smell that oozes comfort. That’s just the emotion you want to evoke in that situation – you want them to feel at home.

Think about treating your candidates like customers and stimulating their senses when they enter into the doors of your company to reflect your brand.

Editor's note: for more information on how to strengthen your candidate experience, consider learning from applying for the Candidate Experience Awards.

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.


Employer Brand Measurement: Introducing Source of Brand


Employer Brand Measurement: Introducing Source of Brand

If there's one thing that corporate America drills into your head again and again, it's ROI. Especially during budget season. And while I don't miss those complicated Excel models, I'm constantly reminded of the importance of measures. You need an argument for making one investment choice over another. As a former boss always reminded me, "data drives decisions." The problem in our line of work? The data is often flawed. For example, human resources has been relying on "source of hire" for years  and it's one of the most imperfect measures in human resources. I have long argued there is no such thing as a single source of hire and thus no accurate way to measure one. Even pre-Internet, job seekers may see an ad in a newspaper but were informed about the job from friends, family, college professors or career offices.



Recruiting in the Relationship Economy

This post originally appeared on Talemetry's Blog Talemetry Today. Advertise job, receive resume, email candidate, process offer — our recruiting processes have become more transactional than ever. That’s not a bad thing! We have more tools than ever to source, track and manage candidate, and that technology has made life as a recruiter more productive and efficient.

But as technology has sped up the process, candidates are clamoring for attention. They want more interaction and engagement. They want to connect with the people behind the company. And companies are answering.

The best companies are paying close attention to how they can improve the candidate experience, by emphasizing relationships rather than transactions. There’s even an award devoted to recognizing those who deliver candidate experience exceptionally well: the CandEs.

It’s a new relationship economy. Are your recruiters ready?

In this new relationship economy, we’re relying on networking more than ever. We’ve evolved from tracking resumes to proactively sourcing candidates and researching how they behave and participate in networks.

We’re building talent communities that require actual engagement with candidates. We’re conducting video interviews and hosting live career chats, and that requires more interaction from brand ambassadors, hiring managers and recruiters.

eHarmony is even getting into the game, using their match technology in a job board: “Technology company seeks engineers for long walks on the beach.” Imagine what that email exchange might look like.

This is changing the role the recruiter plays. The opportunity to hide behind process is gone. No longer can recruiters simply follow a phone screen script or negotiate an offer by playing middleman with the hiring manager. It’s all about deep engagement.

Specifically, we’re talking about three key engagement levers: information, access and personalization.

A careers site or booth at a careers fair was once all you needed. Now candidates want more. They want more information about the job, the company’s vision, the products, the compensation, and their potential office space. They want every piece of information they can get to make a decision. And who can blame them? We’ve been groomed in business to believe that data drives good decisions.

Developments in technology means candidates can find out more easily who does what in your company, the careers they’ve had and the work they do. They want access to their future boss, team members and executives. They want to be able to talk to them directly, ask questions and understand their day-to-day work, politics and potential.

With information and access comes a feeling of me, me, me. Candidates only make a limited number of job changes in a lifetime. So their job search is a deeply personal, high-priority item and they’re demanding attention. And that attention comes in the way of personalization—make the job seeker feel like you’re catering to their individual needs and wants. Make them feel special.

All of this means recruiters need a new set of skills and behaviors to keep up.

First, they have to be the company librarian—they have to really know what’s happening. They have to be on top of company trends and innovations. They have to be the press secretary — speaking on behalf of their leaders and the company in a way they never have before.

Recruiters also have to be the best networkers in your company—internally. They have to be the connected beyond the coffee machine to all levels of professionals in the company at all locations. If a candidate has a specific question or wants to connect with a specific person in a remote function, the recruiter can’t be making an internal cold call. He has to already have the relationship–and the permission—to make the connection.

Finally, recruiters have to get better at unearthing detail about candidates beyond sourcing and profile review. They have to be able to pick up cues on a candidate’s interests, hobbies, or personal details from conversations and regularly use them to customize the experience. From onboarding and welcome gifts to recognizing special days and family needs, these individual touches matter to candidates. Imagine receiving a personalized offer package catered just to you, your family and your interests.

The technology is there to support this shift. Like marketers, recruiters can take advantage of data mining software to comb customer profiles, networks and reviews for social cues and ways to cater to individual needs. Applying this level of personal research to candidate data and employer brand will mean recruiters become anthropologists and psychologists—well beyond the skills they have now.

So what type of development are you providing?

The same conferences, sourcing seminars or process training? Or are you looking at the future and the skills your recruiters need now and 10 years from now.

exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.



Why You Should Care About Candidate Experience

We're marketers. That's what we are. Talent acquisition is about promoting opportunities. Driving brand loyalty. Evaluating customer sentiment. Participating in the conversation about our brand. Whether you like it or not, if your game is talent, your playing field is strangely similar to a marketer's. And that because it's all about the experience. Ever find yourself running to post a review on Yelp, TripAdvisor or OpenTable? And when you do--you're always talking about the experience. That's why marketers live to transform the brand experience. It's an operational exercise.  You want to look at every step of the process, get feedback and then look at it again. You want to think big too--how does the experience make the customer think and feel? Would they come again? Is there loyalty there? Would they recommend you to a friend?  Marketers live, eat and breathe all of these things. And so should talent acquisition leaders.

Enter the Candidate Experience Awards. Designed to showcase companies delivering the best in the experience job candidates receive, the Candidate Experience Awards provide insight into an often overlooked part of the talent process--the experience.

I'm lucky to be joining a great collection of HR professionals as part of this year's Candidate Experience Council.  As the Council elevates the importance of candidate experience, we'll be encouraging your organization to apply--because get this--it's not about the award. It's about the experience. "The CandE Award process is a competition, but it is also designed to provide every organization that chooses to participate confidential and specific feedback on how they can improve their candidate experience." Winner or not, you'll get valuable feedback you can't always attain from inside the organization.

Whether you're hearing about this for the first time, or sighing and thinking "Is this really worth my while?" We say yes. Want to know more? Ask me or any of these fine folks joining me on the Council:



QUIPS #1: Candidate Experience

Speaking and consulting with HR professionals, I often hear how hard it is to take best practices and actually implement them. The grand solutions shared at conferences and in whitepapers often come from companies with big staffs, big budgets and a supportive and forward-thinking HR team.  What if that's not you? What if you're working exceptionally hard but starting from scratch? Maybe your company doesn't have the money or the time and energy to focus on solving a problem in a big way.  Today, Exaqueo introduces QUIPS: QUIck Problem Solving. These are quick ways to begin to address and solve common talent challenges.  First up? Candidate experience. You know you need to fix your candidate experience. But you don't have time to do a complete audit. You don't have money for new technologies and quite frankly, you don't know where to start.

QUIPS: At its core, candidate experience is all about communication. Think about your worst customer service experiences. They are ones where you don't know what's going on and have to try again and again to get an answer or have your problem solved. But when you get an honest call or email that updates you on the problem, or the status of the problem, even if it takes some time to solve you appreciate the communication. Apply THIS to your candidate experience. Here are four quick things you can do to begin to address candidate experience now.

1) Communicate the process at the start: Tell candidates if they will hear back, how they will hear back and when to expect some sort of communication. Be honest about length of time. And give them a way to check in if possible. Share this information clearly, plainly and boldly in every job description or in an exceptionally prominent place on your site.

2) Be upfront with candidates: Let them know you're busy/short-staffed/someone's on vacation. Candidates won't mind as much if it takes longer to hear if at least they know what's going on. Require recruiters to have standard (and detailed) out-of-office replies and voicemail greetings.

3) Align recruiter responses: Ask each recruiter on your team how, if and when they respond to candidates. You'll likely find some gaping differences--fix those and have some baseline requirements to help reinforce your reputation--that's the foundation of your brand.

4) Make a small investment: Hire one person, even part-time if that's all you can afford, to help manage the queue. Depending on the complexity of your organization, they can serve as the triage nurse--handling immediate questions about application status or interview scheduling changes and referring the candidate where the need is more complex like offer negotiations.

It's a start. None of these will address the experience completely. But they will help with baseline challenge of communication. And when you have the time/money/focus/energy, you can use these resources to dive in further.