Last week, I was able to sit in on a presentation that Gerry Crispin gave about the candidate experience and the awards that he helps run called The Candidate Experience Awards. Crispin has spoken extensively about the subject and is on the agenda of many of the industry’s key events (including this week’s ERE Expo put on by SourceCon’s parent company, ERE Media).
I always assumed that candidate experience had more to do with downstream activity in the hiring process (mainly how candidates were communicated with and how interviewing progressed). As I read through their recently released report about the state of the candidate experience, it is obvious that sourcers and researchers have a major role in the process.
First impressions count
I recently switched cell phone companies (I’ll leave the name out to protect the semi-innocent). We walked into the store, decided on a phone, went through the process of signing up and they found out they didn’t have any in-stock. They said they would ship them to us overnight. They didn’t show up. After a couple of days, we finally got our phones but not without the hassle of ordering them and trying to get a refund.
Not exactly the best way to start a business relationship. My wife said to me, “I hope this isn’t an indicator of things to come.” It has been smooth sailing since then but admittedly, I wondered if I should have pulled the plug after the mess up.
The same thing happens whenever you make initial contact with potential candidates. They are sizing you up. And often, if there are problems on the front end of the hiring process, there will be problems later on and there will be problems with the company in general. Especially when you are making the initial contact, you can guarantee that your success rate will be related to how well you can manage that first impression.
Contact via phone
In the candidate experience report, contact via phone is an incredibly important part of the recruiting process:
Direct calls from recruiters and career fair events are still key recruiting strategies, preferred by candidates, emphasizing the importance of phone and face-to-face communication.
The ease of a tweet, LinkedIn message or even a well-worded e-mail can be tempting but, especially for positions where you as a sourcer are doing a search, the phone can be a really important tool for emphasizing the importance of them and the role. If you’re the first to contact a candidate, a quick phone call can help create something that goes beyond what some words on the screen can do. That matters and it helps set the stage for later on in the hiring process.
As sourcers become more involved in the initial hiring process, there is the question of the handoff between a sourcer and the recruiter or hiring manager. No matter how soon in the process you are handing off a potential candidate (whether it be at the name generation stage or after some pre-qualifying), sourcers play a major role in making sure that process is smooth.
For those working with a name handoff, being able to give key, accurate details about the person will help a recruiter making a cold call a better chance for success. The power of jumping onto a call with all of the information reviewed and being able to tell the potential candidate, “Here’s why I’m calling you,” can’t be underestimated.
For those with any contact with the potential candidate, learning how to handle the handoff between yourself and the recruiter or hiring manager is imperative to your success. Setting expectations and making sure everyone on your team is following through on their commitment to the candidate means that you, the recruiter and the company all look good in the process.
Candidate experience is about the entire process
The most important takeaway from hearing Crispin speak over the years about candidate experience is that the candidate experience is an all-encompassing process. If one part of your process is weak or broken, it won’t matter how great the rest is for the candidate. What they’ll remember is a crummy first impression, a recruiter who doesn’t call back when she is supposed to or never hearing back about a job they were being considered for.
That makes good sourcing a critical part of the entire puzzle (and it should motivate you to get the entire talent acquisition process on board as well).