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Employee Experience

Lessons from User Experience to Apply to Your Candidate Experience

July 11, 2016
7 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


As the web continues to dominate every waking second of our lives, the proliferation of job titles and entire departments under the umbrella of “user experience” has grown dramatically. After all, if we’re going to spend most of our time on a computer or a mobile phone, or engaging with some sort of device, it’s crucial to work with people who can make that experience, simpler, more effortless, and easier for the user.

Those who work in user experience measure every part of the customer interaction, trying to figure out how long they stay, what makes them abandon a page or buying cycle, and if traffic goes up or down after a big change. User experience experts work closely with developers, marketers and designers to create something that people inevitably want to use, and that reaches the desired outcome.

So what does this mean for HR practitioners? You’ve probably already figured it out. We’re going to delve into the annals of user experience lessons to figure out how we can transform candidate experience. After all, most job seekers spend most of their days on computer terminals, behind laptops or tapping into phones, so there are real lessons to be learned here. But more important than the technical know-how we can get from studying user experience best practices, is the parallels we can draw to questions we should be asking, metrics we should be implementing and relationships we should be building to make candidate experience as great as user experience.

Audit Your Process

Job searching, recruiting and applying happens almost exclusively digitally. In fact, 85% of adults think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website. Using online job boards, landing pages, career sites and applicant tracking systems, candidates become online customers. Why, then, are we putting less emphasis on the user experience for candidates? Your process should be 100% online, 100% mobile and able to complete within 30 minutes.

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.png 85% of adults think a company's mobile site should be as good as or better than the desktop site. 

It’s not hard to audit your process. Have someone who is unfamiliar with your company go through the hiring process. Ask where they felt it was difficult and how.

Missing a piece? Learn how to win hiring through mobile.

Why do they leave? This is one of the first questions those working in user experience in an ecommerce environment ask themselves. Have they abandoned the cart? Left without completing the sales video? Do they take off when asked for additional information? Is there a page with a particularly high bounce rate? By studying these questions, flaws in the design come up. Tweaks are made, colors are changed, forms are shortened.

Turn this UX into CX: Do you find out why your candidates are abandoning your application process? Does your team and culture page turn people off? You’ll never actually know until you go through the process to find out. If you’re not already creating measurements around your career site and recruitment marketing campaign (or even just your job ads) now is the time to start.

Candidate Service

Customer service can make or break a user experience. When something goes awry (something we don’t wish for, but inevitably plan for) we have a human person available to smooth hiccups and carry on the progress. Why don’t we offer our candidates the same level of diligence and services as we do with our customers?

It’s hard to justify spending time on people who will never walk through the company doors. The good news is with the amount of automation available with a good ATS, a notification, status email and even a “you’re not the right fit” email can be sent to hundreds of applicants with a click of a button.

Learn how to put the candidate first.

What do we say to them? In user experience, it’s okay to realize that not every customer is the same. Does customer A want the same things as customer B? Do they receive the same emails upon logging in or joining the website? How do we welcome them to our community? When they purchase a product...then what?

Turn this CX into UX: Your candidates need at least as much consideration as someone buying a Raskog cart from IKEA. Over 70% of online applicants never even get a reply. Fix that. Then move on to realizing that the reply for an applicants will be different than one for a passive seeker who may just be browsing locations on your career site. Their needs are different, so approach them differently. Use smart content, A/B testing and autoresponders to make sure no one falls through the cracks. After all, you spend a lot of money getting them to your website, why lose them in the last 10% of the journey?

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.png Do you treat your candidates with the same level of respect you would give a customer? Why or why not?

Invisible Branding

“A good candidate experience is brilliant marketing for an organization; a bad one is an ongoing black eye for people interested in your employer brand.” -Meghan M Biro @MeghanMBiro

Bad reviews of your product or service are more common than good ones, am I right? It’s easy to flow through an application and carry on with the day without much thought, but a negative experience, such as a clunky sign in process or downed system will definitely have a user taking to a social media outlet to air the inefficiency. Unfortunately, it’s only really amazing service or subpar experiences that warrant reviews. The candidate experience is absolutely the same.

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.png .@MeghanMBiro says bad #CX is an ongoing black eye for people interested in your employer brand.

Think holistically about how candidate experience touches other parts of the organization. From employer branding, to retention and engagement are all a part of the feeling a company gives to its potential hires or consumers. 88% of job applicants are more likely to buy from a company that provides a positive experience when applying for employment.

Need a concrete example of how to implement a powerful candidate experience? Download our trusted candidate experience checklist.

How do they get here? In user experience, much attention is paid to the browsers that customers use to access the main site. Do they come from social? What browser or device are they using? If they come from Facebook, how long do they stay versus a user that comes from LinkedIn? User experience advocates are constantly focused on how to make people stay longer, where they came from and how to carry that experience through and make it seamless.

Turn this UX into CX: Even as recruitment marketing becomes more ingrained into the minds of HR practitioners, many still miss the disconcerting nature of switching from a “fun” outlet like Instagram into an outdated, antiquated, laborious ATS. Are you making this same mistake? Focus on learning where your “customers”, um, candidates are coming from and focus on making the systems sync up at least in the user’s eyes. Your investment in a Facebook recruiting tool may be for naught if your own career site experience is less than stellar.

Hire Right

“When creating content, be empathetic above all else. Try to live the lives of your audience.” -Rand Fishkin, Founder at Moz @randfish

The journey from prospect to applicant to employee is not always a road well-traveled. Applications are started and abandoned, communications cut in and out and the interview process drags on for weeks. Each part of the recruiting lifecycle comes together to form either a sound candidate experience or one that falls flat on it’s face. See some holes in your process? ClearCompany creates software with the entire candidate experience in mind. Learn more.

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