Every year, new trends emerge and shake things up, whether it’s fashion, home décor, or in HR. For the last 10 years, employers have had the upper hand in hiring. There were what felt like endless applicants for just a few positions. Then, tables turned in 2018. As the job market exploded, suddenly potential hires had more opportunities to choose from, and many talent pipelines ran dry. As a result, the three major hiring trends we’re seeing now are employer branding, artificial intelligence, and talent acquisition strategy. Together, these trends all create the biggest HR shift we’ve seen since the end of the great recession – a renewed focus on candidate experience. So what is candidate experience, why does it matter, and how can you make sure your hiring process reflects the new industry standard?

What Is Candidate Experience?

At its most basic, candidate experience is how your applicants feel when navigating your hiring process. It covers everything from your job description all the way up to negotiating their final offer. Candidates see your hiring process as a window into how your company operates. It’s also seen as an indicator of how your company treats your employees.  Was the job well-defined? Or was it vague, with a bunch of unnecessary requirements? Was the application simple and clean? Or was it a long, frustrating experience? Did the candidate hear back quickly? Or did they feel left in the dark?

Whether you have a conscious strategy for it or not, candidate experience is a major part of both your employer brand and your hiring process.

Why Does Candidate Experience Matter?

These days, job seekers have a lot of options. They are no longer motivated to complete an application that takes an hour or twiddle their thumbs waiting to hear back about a job. In a tight labor market, a positive candidate experience means the difference between making great hires and a dwindling candidate pool.

Improved Apply Rates.

Did you know that 60% of job seekers will abandon a job application if it’s too long or frustrating? A clean, quick application process will get more candidates into your pipeline. When candidates have a good experience, they’ll not only complete your applicant, they’ll be more likely to respond to interview requests and ultimately accept an offer.

Social Clout

These days, everyone researches everything before they try it. Primarily, they check out online reviews. Glassdoor is basically Yelp for job seekers. They can see how others felt about your company’s hiring process before deciding to apply. The average job seeker reads 6 reviews to help inform their opinion on a company. A solid application process will be positively reflected in online reviews, and will actually encourage more candidates to apply. On top of that, candidates will tell their peers and colleagues about your openings if you take care of them during the hiring process.

Reengaged Talent

Even if you decide that a candidate isn’t the right fit for your current opening, a talent shortage is not the time to be burning bridges. You want to keep the door open for candidates to apply again if the right position comes along. You want your hiring process to keep applicants engaged and give a glimpse of what it would be like to work with your company.

Reduced Turnover

Employee turnover is expensive. You invest a lot of time and money into bringing on a new hire. The last thing you want is for them to leave! But did you know that the majority of turnover occurs within a new hire’s first year? A lot of that stems from your onboarding process. Contrary to what you may think, new employees don’t see the onboarding process as something that begins after they’ve accepted the offer. For them, it begins before: with your application and hiring process. A positive candidate experience will breed a positive onboarding experience, improving the chances that your new hire will stay long term.

How to Build a Positive Candidate Experience

Go for Simple

Don’t burden your prospective hires with a long and arduous application process. Start with a clear and accurate job description. Then, parse uploaded resumes to limit the amount of information reentry applicants have to manually enter. By limited the number of fields to key entries, your application will be fast and easy, making candidates happy.

Keep Candidates Informed

Communication is key at every step of your hiring process. Send an automatic email to them to confirm that their application was received. Keep them in the loop about their application status – have they moved on to the phone screen? The in-person interview? Let them know what to expect. No one wants to be left in the dark. When you let candidates know where they stand, they’re more likely to stay engaged. And if you choose not to hire them, tell them why. Constructive feedback will make a candidate 4 times more likely to apply to a future opening at your company.

Make it Fun

You might consider “hiring process” and “fun” as easy to mix as oil and water. But shouldn’t be the case! Inject your candidate journey with some fun and games to truly set yourself apart from other employers.  Gamifying your application process has a positive impact on candidate experience. With JobFlare, candidates use brain games to demonstrate their aptitude, the strongest predictor of job success. They can read all about your company in a personalized profile, and apply directly from our mobile app. It also allows for direct candidate communication with our messaging feature. JobFlare’s games allow for candidate testing that improves your candidate experience, and our application process is modern and simple. Try a 30-day free trial today and see what you think!

The Way of the Future

Candidate experience isn’t just another trend. While it will continue to evolve over time, giving candidates a positive impression of your company during your hiring process – whether you hire them or not – has a huge impact. You can re-engage with past candidates, improve your offer acceptance rate, and ultimately reduce employee turnover. It’s a solid investment to build a hiring process that leaves candidates feeling good.