Have you applied for a job and never even received an automated message saying that your application has been submitted successfully? Or, has it been like two months since you applied for a position and you never received any sort of communication from the company?
This is the case for many job seekers and surely, you shouldn’t take this personally. According to the 2015 North American Candidate Experience Research Report by Talent Board HR
although most companies send an immediate automated “thank you,” nearly half of candidates never received an indication of the status of the application […] Additionally, 47% of candidates never received any communication two months after applying.
These data prove, that many organizations still offer a poor candidate experience [CX] towards job applicants, despite CX’s wight in terms of HR practices and its potential negative impact, when done badly. But this won’t be another article on why candidate experience is important and how companies can improve it. This time, I’m determined to show you how candidate can [and should] take the matters into their own hands, in order to influence companies to take better care of them as potential employees. To cut the long story short, let’s take a look at two strategies through which YOU, as a candidate, could improve your experience.
NEVER GO INTO BATTLE WITHOUT BEING PREPARED
Being prepared is vital when applying for jobs. No matter how smart or skilled you are, you absolutely should prepare yourself. Not only to improve your chances of making a good impression in various stages of a recruitment process, but to also enable you to understand and evaluate more effectively different situations and stand up for yourself in case you’ve been mistreated by an employer. The preparation consists of two things:
Get to know yourself
Define very clearly WHAT you want and WHY you want it. Be prepared to justify your answers. Be also prepared to reply to most common interview questions. The Muse is an awesome site, containing great resources for job seekers, who should definitely have it favoured in their browsers’ settings.
Practise. Practise. Practise. No one was born with an innate ability to do great in interviews. Make sure you’re able to express your WHATs and WHYs in a comprehensive manner. Your beliefs may sound great in your head, but have you actually tried to explain it to others? Have they understood it?
It’s one thing to know something and another trying to explain it, or even worse, convincing others. Now, if you’re too embarrassed to practise in front of friends, try writing your replies. Writing them down, will help you better structure your answers and see the possible reasoning “gaps” or inconsistencies and redundancies. It may also produce follow up questions, the recruiter would think of, when listening to you.
Get to know the company
Knowing about the company is a must! This knowledge will help you adjust your replies. DO NOT make stuff up, BUT emphasise certain aspects of your character, skills and interests in a way that would better match the company culture and strategic positioning.
Acquiring such info will also make you reply more to the point, in the light of company’s values and future goals. For example, you may have noticed that a company you’re about to interview at is going through a digital transformation – a very common thing for many organizations at the moment. From this insight, you can assume confidently that this company must be looking for people that have skills relevant to this shift towards digital. So, you should use this insight to identify previous experiences and skills of yours that could providence evidence that you’d able to embrace and support this transformation.
Be careful not to misinterpret this advice. DON’T make up lies to make others like you. Instead, try to pinpoint honestly your similarities with the company and the things that the company could find useful.
Liza Ryan, a recognised expert in career councelling and owner of a workplace councelling business, describes it beautifully in her article “How To Answer ‘What Do You Know About Our Company?‘ “. The article will help you understand not only how you should be answering this specific question, it will also give you a perspective, which could be used in other company and industry-related questions that usually come up during an interview.
And remember, a well prepared candidate raises the bar and is more probable to be perceived as more competent by employers. And being seen as more competent makes employers want you more! Which means, that employers will be more willing to invest in keeping well prepared candidates engaged throughout the recruiting process. Subsequently, the better the quality [which is usually the result of preparedness] of job candidates, the better the experience they receive. That is why, companies that hire best of the best, have great experiences. Take Deloitte for example.
Deloitte strives to continually improve and bring new innovations into our candidate experience, ensuring all candidates, whether hired or not, are informed throughout the process and have a positive impression of our brand.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
Sharing experiences is the key to people wanting to improve themselves or others’ processes. So, if we assume that making job candidates better will lead to better candidate experiences, we should definately start sharing more! Here’s two ways to do it:
Share with your network
Chatting with your friends and network about job seeking experiences is a great way to see what is happening out there. Through such exchanges, patterns come up, which will help you to distinguish among employers and lead you to a preferred list of companies. You may even want to peruse specific organizations and focus your resources on the ones that captured the liking of your friends, who happened to have a great experience with that company.
In general, word-of-mouth is an old fashioned way of people acquiring valuable knowledge to make decisions. But don’t let the oldness of the practice deceive you. Instead, think of all the times you were influenced by a friend’s past experience of a certain product or brand. Or the times your best friend’s encouragement or disapproval of a brand made you buy or leave a product on the shelf of a store. Surely, they’re plenty. Now, imagine applying the same principle on the employers’ market.
Sharing your job seeking experience with your network, will allow you to communicate your disapproval of bad recruiting practices. The more people share their experiences the greater the impact on the employers whose recruiting is causing frustration to job seekers. Eventually, this will force employers to change attitude and invest on a better candidate experience, as they won’t be able, at some point, to manage the “bad press” generated by disappointed candidates.
There is traditional “word-of-mouth”, but there is also the “electronic word-of-mouth”. The second one refers to sharing recruiting experiences on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and of course Glassdoor. To make a parallelism, think of evaluating employers online, just like you would write a product review on amazon or eBay of that shoes you ordered last month.
Now ask yourself, why would you review a product online? The answer comes pretty easily to your mind, doesn’t it? Of course, to advise other buyers on the quality and characteristics of the product and ultimately to advise them on the purchase. Such reviews, on a mass level, as you can imagine, can influence sales of many companies and sellers out there. So, why not use such a successful approach in the employer market, as well? Why don’t we review employers online the same way we review products and services we purchase on a daily basis?
According to research into consumers’ use of online reviews, 88% of people have been influenced by an online customer service review. The influence on employers may still be a bit less, but such activity will defiantly push employers to improve certain aspects of their recruiting process, leading to better candidate experience for many job seekers.
Definitely, don’t confuse sharing with bitching about all those bad experiences of yours. Don’t nag or complain either. Just state the facts of the incident and your recruiting experiences in the most subjective way. You can achieve this by letting a few days pass, which would help you zoom out of the situation and get a clearer perspective. Talking with a friend would also help. The objectivity is essential, especially when sharing on social media or online platforms. Because, once a digital message – your digital footprint – is online, it’s there forever, even after it’s been deleted. So, make sure to be perceived as the person who tries to change and improve the current reality and not the kind of person that enjoys bad-mouthing companies online.
To conclude, I’ll use once again Heidi Soltis-Berner’s words:
Candidates today are more empowered than ever — they know what a positive candidate experience should be, and won’t hesitate to share their impressions of an organization’s recruiting experience with their peers if it leaves them underwhelmed or frustrated.
Did you notice that the source of power of a candidate to influence companies in terms of candidate experience comes from knowledge [“know what a positive candidate experience should be“] and sharing [“won’t hesitate to share their”]? Both elements are the cornestone of this article, and probably for a good reason.
By knowing yourself and about the company equips you with the undeniable right to claim the best possible candidate experience. Why? Because, you spent time and energy in preparing yourself as a candidate, so companies must match that by offering a great CX.
And by sharing your experiences both offline and online, you’re enabled to communicate effectively your approval or disapproval to employers, giving them the opportunity to change if necessary. Some may don’t even know what is going on in their companies candidate experience-wise… others that do know, may have to pay the price of neglecting it on purpose.
The better the candidate you are, the more entitled you are for better treatment, but sometimes you must fight for it and the best way to do it, is by sharing.
Finally, I’ll leave you with these words of encouragment, hoping that you’ll utilize this read to improve something that affects us all.
Ready to change YOUR candidate experience?!
Many thanks to Ethel Agelatou, who edited this article, improving your reading experience! Follow her for top-notch LinkedIn tips.
Candidate Experience is a topic dear to my heart, so I really hope to have helped you in a way. Share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me and make sure you don’t miss my future posts by following me on LinkedIn. Finally, if you’d like to get in touch, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can message me on LinkedIn.