Imagine being on the job hunt during a global health crisis. 

Maybe you’re a recent grad looking to support yourself during the worst economic downturn in recent history. Or maybe you’re one of the millions of people who lost their job due to the economic havoc of COVID-19.

You’re scouring the web for job openings at organizations that haven’t instituted hiring freezes. For any open role you find, you’re up against fierce competition.

On top of the already grueling process of searching out good positions, editing your resume, and writing tailored cover letters, you also have to adjust to virtual interviews, navigate video call tech, and prepare yourself for an online onboarding experience…if you even get a job offer.

Now, putting your staffing firm hat back on and thinking about all the obstacles your candidates have to face in 2020, it couldn’t be clearer that candidate experience is more crucial than ever before. 

It’s a great time to take a step back and see if you’re creating the best candidate experience possible. Have you adjusted to recruiting in a virtual environment? Or is your recruiting game stuck in 2019 (which, we can all agree, feels like decades ago)?

Here’s how you can improve the candidate experience in 2020.

1. Communicate with applicants

Over 60% of job seekers are dissatisfied with the level of communication they received from employers after they applied for a job. That means that the majority of applicants are dissatisfied with how they were treated.

What’s more, nearly 70% of job seekers also said they were likely or very likely to share their negative employment process experience with their friends and network. When most of us are stuck at home scrolling through our friends’ feeds, it’s likely that news of someone’s poor experience will spread more quickly than ever before.

Luckily, making your communication more consistent is as simple as automating aspects of your outreach. This has the added bonus of saving your recruiters time. For example, you can automate a quick follow-up email whenever a candidate fills out a form on your site, letting them know that their information was received. This gives talent clear insight into where they are in the process. It also means your recruiters spend less time monitoring their inboxes and more time building relationships. 

With the right tools and the right strategy, you can automate outreach throughout a candidate’s entire experience with you. Some ATSs can automatically move applicants from one stage to the next, using a combination of automated outreach and helpful reminders to your recruiting team to follow up more personally at key points. This combination means your candidates are less likely to be left hanging and more likely to have a positive experience.

2. Set clear expectations

A hallmark of a positive candidate experience is that your talent never feels like they’re in the dark. In addition to timely communication, clear communication can help you earn trust — and positive reviews.

Automation can also play a key role here. You can create an email template, for example, that outlines the steps of your hiring process and when a candidate can expect to hear back at each phase. You can send this email to everyone who sends in an application.

When you send candidates through to an interview, you can also let them know what to expect. Even small things, such as communicating dress code expectations (nice shirt, pants optional!) can put candidates at ease and clear up confusion around virtual interviews.

Letting candidates know what you expect—and what they can expect from you—will leave everyone feeling less anxious. Candidates will be better prepared for interviews and will send fewer frantic “Did I get the job?” emails to your inbox.

3. Remember that inclusivity is a practice, not just a buzzword

Millennials and Gen Z belong to the two most diverse generations in American history. If you’re not recruiting with an eye for inclusion, you’ll miss out on top talent from these younger generations.

Millennials and Gen Z comprise the most diverse group of Americans to date. (Source)

Promoting diversity and inclusion in your recruiting practices starts with your job posts. Here are just a few things you can do to promote more inclusivity in your job post practices:

  • Avoid language in your job descriptions that conveys unconscious bias.
  • Use gender-neutral language. 
  • Clearly and specifically describe the skills you’re looking for in a candidate.
  • Post open positions to job boards that are accessible to a wide variety of candidates.

During the evaluation process, you can take the first step in reducing human bias by using an ATS or other resume screening tool. 

And you can take the transparent communication skills above one step further by letting candidates know what metrics you’ll use to evaluate them during their interviews.

4. Give them tips on how to navigate the remote job search.

The normal of last year is gone. Your candidates are doing their job searches in a whole new world, one that’s changing constantly. But one consistent aspect of the reality we’re in is that much of what we used to do in person has moved to a remote environment—and that includes much of the job search.

Set your candidates up for success by preparing them for success in a virtual environment. 

  • Highlight the soft skills hirers want to see in their remote workers, such as impeccable communication, self-motivation, and focus.
  • Coach your candidates on the video interview process, preparing them for the different formats they might be facing (filming an intro video on their own to send to a client, one-on-one video interviews, panel Zoom interviews, etc.).
  • Encourage your clients to get creative with how they showcase their company culture so your remote candidates can get a better sense of who they’re interacting with. 
  • Find ways to celebrate accomplishments and send pick-me-ups as candidates navigate the ups and downs of the job search.

Looking for more tips on how to create a great virtual candidate experience? Check out our article on how to set your remote recruiting team up for success.

5. Solicit feedback from your candidates

You know who will have a lot to say about your recruitment methods? The candidates who just experienced them. After going through it, candidates are intimately acquainted with your hiring process and can help you see where you’re missing the mark—and what you’re doing right. Don’t miss out on their valuable insights.

Create a candidate experience survey to solicit feedback from applicants. If a candidate had a great experience with your recruiting staff even if they weren’t hired, you’ll know you’re on the right track. And if a candidate had a negative experience, asking for feedback about the process will make them feel heard, decreasing the likelihood of public backlash.

improve the candidate experience

Find out from candidates how they felt about your hiring process.

There’s always room for improvement. You shouldn’t miss out on the most direct source of tips and advice for improving the candidate experience.

Final thoughts

Enough bad things have happened in 2020. Your frustrating hiring process doesn’t need to be one of them.

Start improving your recruiting process by working on timely, clear communication, making diversity and inclusion an expectation in your hiring process, and asking candidates how you’re doing. 

Want more on how to make your talent happier? Check out our article on how referral automation improves the candidate experience.