Why should candidate experience matter to business?

interview candidates
Improving candidate experience can boost companies in a variety of ways
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What can better candidate experiences achieve that will convince boards to invest in them? Nicola Sullivan argues that improving candidate experience adds substantial business value.

It’s refreshing and timely to see that candidate experience is a priority for so many resourcing leaders coming into 2018. But are we in danger of candidate experience initiatives losing steam because we can’t show how these efforts create value? And how do we build a more robust business case to help secure buy-in?

In recent years there have been efforts to transform the candidate journey with the likes of video interviewing, gamification and VR. But how many HR leaders have quantified the economic impact of candidate experience?

Without this, their efforts end up having clear upfront costs and an intangible return on investment. Without a quantified link to value and a sound business case, such efforts often can’t earn a place on board agendas.

Analytical approach

Building a direct link between the candidate experience and value requires an analytical approach. Cynics need to consider that IBM’s recent research found that regardless of whether they applicants received a job offer, those who were satisfied with their candidate experience were more than twice as likely to recommend the company to others.

What’s more, people who are satisfied with their candidate experience are 38% more likely to accept the company’s job offer. And candidates are organisations’ best advocates – or detractors – with over 60% of candidates talking about their recruitment experiences with friends and family. What’s the value of each of these potential benefits in your business?

It’s important to the business case to understand what a positive or improved candidate experience is actually worth and exactly how the improvements will generate value. Here are some thoughts on how this can be done.

Talent space

How do candidate outcomes represent value to the business? In the emerging talent space, it could be that more satisfied candidates are less likely to renege on an offer at final stage and are quicker to achieve high productivity on joining the organisation. Large tech firms could focus on capturing a greater share of the developer candidate market and at a lower cost per hire through brand advocacy.

Where are the biggest wins? In reducing the need to use agencies in the experienced hire space, or ensuring under-represented groups feel empowered to progress to final interview and hire? The nature of an organisation’s “returns” are dictated by its hiring objectives; and can’t just be measured financially.

It’s then worth linking what candidates say to what they do; what’s the correlation between candidates who say they are satisfied with their experience and renege rates or cost-per-hire, for example? Or the correlation between candidates who say their experience makes them brand advocates and your direct application rate? By analysing correlations in the same way we do customer behaviour, we start to identify real value.

Prioritising pain points or candidate segments is a good starting point – and always remember that candidates are at the heart of the process. What have they told you needs fixing?

While eliminating pain points for candidates is important, it is equally critical to identify areas where you can differentiate your company from competitors as candidates’ expectations change. For example, emerging talent increasingly wants authentic peer-to-peer connection during the recruitment process. Getting ahead of that trend and working out how to facilitate it is far more important than incrementally improving the application form, for example.

Opportunities to innovate

Lastly, organisations should look at their recruitment data for opportunities to innovate. For example, which candidate journeys drive the largest number of calls and queries? You may decide journeys that generate more than a certain number of calls per candidate are primed for digital innovation. You can then build a business case around reducing the cost to service candidates while also promoting brand advocacy by engaging them more intensely.

There’s no doubt candidate-experience transformation projects always start with good intentions. Heads of resourcing can see the benefits of a candidate-centric strategy: better brand advocacy, more satisfied candidates, reduced renege rates, quicker time to attract and hire and, ultimately, more engaged employees. By articulating clearly what a better candidate experience is worth and exactly how it will generate value for the business, getting commitment from the board will be made all the easier.

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