How to create a positive candidate experience remotely

Jul 27, 2020 | Selection & assessment

Nicola Sullivan from Meet & Engage explains how employers can create a positive candidate experience for graduates undergoing online recruitment.

Who could have predicted even as recently as February that many of this year’s graduates would be starting their careers without ever having met their employers in person or stepped foot in the office?

Virtual recruitment has been essential for organisations that have needed to keep attracting new talent during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. But employers need to work extra hard to ensure graduates still have a positive experience during the recruitment process.

I recently hosted a webinar to discuss the issue with Rowena Bach, talent strategy director at PeopleScout, and John Owen, talent attraction manager at RBS. We came up with three areas for recruiters to focus on to upgrade the quality of their remote recruitment:

Stay close

As we move into Summer, the economy is still very much in flux. Some organisations have cancelled offers, some have paused recruitment entirely, some may be going ahead but planning for a lot of online working.

It’s a really good idea to stay in touch with candidates even if you can’t give them any news yet; “Being able to stand out from the competition with empathy is really important,” said Owen. “Students will decide whether or not to join your company based on how they’ve been made to feel.”

Bach agreed, pointing out that candidates will be far more loyal to employers that care. “The feeling that someone was thinking about you is powerful”, she argued. “This is what young candidates need at the moment.”

Watch your language

Graduates need for written literature on your company is going to be heightened if they can’t physically meet you. They will be trying to mine everything for information that helps them decide if this is the right role and employer for them.

But research by PeopleScout found that only 36% of candidates believe hiring managers provide clear job descriptions, showing the large potential for improvement on this issue.

Owen’s tip is to focus on using plain English and removing jargon. He recommends leaving the copy for a while and then removing 10%; “Strong editing and simple language means that you’re showing candidates the job, and not simply telling them what you want to tell them about it.” Owen also recommends hosting short videos on the company website that help to bring the job to life.

How was it for you?

If you want to stand out, prioritise giving and inviting candidate feedback. PeopleScout’s research found a whopping 93% of candidates wouldn’t use a company again that failed to do this.

“Graduates tell us that being asked what they thought of the recruitment experience makes them feel valued and respected,” said Bach. “This is a great way to earn long term loyalty from a candidate.” And when you give them feedback, make sure it’s positively phrased in terms of how they can improve their next application, rather than focusing on why they didn’t get this job.

These are unusual times. But the three of us agreed that there are many opportunities with this sudden immersion into virtual recruitment – as long as employers prioritise maintaining honest, transparent and regular communications.

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