The Essential Guide to the Talent Journey Part 1: Candidate Phase
Part 1: The Candidate Phase
The talent journey follows a long and winding path, but it doesn’t begin with hiring and end with leaving the company. Research shows that candidates interact with 12 touchpoints (on average) with your organization’s external-facing brand before making any kind of next move. Candidates are more like consumers than ever, doing their own research into your website, career site, company review sites, social media presence, blogs, press releases or news coverage, employee stories, etc.
For employers, the rules of attraction apply to not only your consumers but also your employees today, and the starting point of the talent journey is all about first impressions. Take a look at the entire Talent Experience Framework™ we’ve developed below. All of the inputs listed here can form impressions on your candidates:
The Picture You’re Painting
Your organization’s employer brand reflects heavily upon its audience (current and/or future talent) in this first phase. In short, the employer brand should reflect how/why you are an employer of choice. The company’s perceived value influences its ability to attract and retain top-tier talent. Here are a few key factors and pieces of content that influence an organization’s employer brand perception:
Stated Purpose & Mission: Why the organization exists, and for who, are powerful indicators of the type of journey a candidate would be signing on for.
Culture & Values: Culture is the soul of the organization and what makes your business unique, while values define expectations and behaviors that allow team members to support this culture.
Total Rewards & Benefits Information: Employees who are willing to commit to a company want to know how committed a company will be to them, both inside and outside of the workplace.
Unfiltered Feedback: Review sites such as Glassdoor are trusted resources since they allow for subjective opinions of workplaces and leaders.
Career Site Content: The information a company includes on its career site can be a huge indicator of the value placed on attracting and nurturing the right kind of talent.
Job Postings: The information and verbiage used in job postings/descriptions, and even the number of open positions, paints a picture for how the organization operates and is experiencing growing (or not).
Uncover Your Reality
The perception of your organization is key in this stage of the employee journey. Being able to attract the right kind of talent is only as good as your ability to define what that actually means for your organization. We often ask clients to define what it looks like when an employee is succeeding within their company. This almost always elicits a different answer than if we ask what kind of talent they think they want or need. Simple mindset shifts like this are key for truly understanding what your employer brand is and how you can better define it for success. Let’s dive into some detail on a few of these key factors:
Why would someone want to join your organization? The goal of your career site is to clearly tell the story of your company and why you stand apart from everywhere else, what do you have to offer?
The career site tells this story through the people who work there now; what culture have they created? It explains the perks your organization offers, the opportunities for growth and learning, and the overall experience of working day after day in your offices.
Pro tip: Bring the story to life. Incorporate videos of employees explaining what your organization is to them, of your company at events that are meaningful to your culture, internal routines and external impacts. High-quality images of your office and your team heighten the impact of your message.
Realistic Job Descriptions
Be realistic. Your employment brand should be based on your current culture and your current organization. Aspirational goals should still be considered, but do not focus on areas that are simply not true for your organization. For instance, there has been an increased focus on remote employees and flexibility of workplace; if your organization requires employees to work from your office, do not site your flexible nature as one of your pillars. Candidates will feel lied to and it will harm the relationship from the beginning and you will not be attracting the right talent for you.
Build a Talent Community
A strong employment brand allows you to interact with passive candidates and create consistent brand interactions. This can reinforce the who, what, why of your organization and build awareness with passive talent (see 12-touchpoint statistic at the start of this post!). This allows your organization to be top of mind when a position that interests them becomes available or when they transition from passive to active seekers.
Focus on Candidate Experience
Once a candidate actually takes that step of applying for an open position, this is a huge opportunity for setting the right first impression. Have open communication with your candidates during every step of the hiring process, from application to closing interviews.
Even if a candidate was not successful, communicate that with them quickly. Poor communication here will influence the entirety of the employee journey. Leaving talent in the dark at any stage of the hiring
process, whether it be the status of their application, their next steps, or your email communications with them along the way, will leave a bad impression. This leads to a potential advocate of your brand turning against you. They will share their experience with friends, and could share it on various review sites publicly. For helpful tips on giving feedback to employees of all generations, check out our blog here.
At livingHR, we adhere and advocate for Candidate KarmaTM, a philosophy that focuses on the two-way essence of the candidate journey. Treat your candidates well and they will do the same for you, but treat them poorly and they will spread their experience to friends, families, and millions of strangers on the farthest reaches of the internet. With 84% percent of people trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, starting at the heart of treating people right and doing so with authenticity is the name of the game.
Continually find ways to enhance your company’s experience in person and online. In addition, use customer feedback to make the adjustments to ensure they feel the enhancements beneficial to them. With these improvements to your brand, you can guarantee your company always attracts the best fit and most dedicated employees.