I’ve recently been using a new lens to look at the world of both candidate experience and the employer brand. It’s a lens that came from reading about user experience design from a web perspective, which is far more focused on conversion than recruitment has typically been. And it’s given me some interesting insights into what our mission actually is.
We are in the business of creating experiences. Whether we intend to or not.
More often than not, the candidate experience is dictated by what our systems allow us to do. Or what our web design team allows us to do. Or what our schedules allow us to do. Candidate experience is a by-product of other decisions made for other reasons. It is not often the driver of those decisions – it is the composite result of choices made by procurement, marketing, HR, IT and other parts of the organisation. And in many cases, this patchwork of influences is abundantly clear.
We are trying to get people to bind our story to their own narrative. Our goal is to build enthusiasm in the minds of talented individuals, who experience what we have to offer and being to superimpose this expectation over their current reality. Every image and tag line, every press ad and online classified ad, every web banner and trade show – these are all supposed to create a brand personality that others enjoy, and buy into as something that strengthens their self image.
As much as I hate the over-reliance on dating analogies, in this case, the comparison suits very well. We want people to like us for who we are, and we should be presenting the best version of ourselves wherever possible. We should be making a proud statement, and finding ways to help people see us as a good choice for the future. And most of all, we should be going to extraordinary lengths to build the kind of experience that they’ll remember, and that sets the template for our behaviour.
Having applied for quite a few jobs recently, I’ve been reminded of just how much barren and bland it can be. It’s clearly driven to satisfy a corporate process, in a bleak digital environment, with minimal information available to the applicant. This is particularly the case when one considers how much information the applicant provides in the application process. The information imbalance creates discomfort and a sense of feeling exposed. It makes the candidate feel, well, like a commodity. Which is a bad way to enter into any relationship, even if that’s what the candidate expected from their own experience in applying for other roles.
We can design these processes and interactions better. We can design for delight and pleasure, rather than just satisfying process. Every company has feedback on its application process and where it alienates candidates instead of delighting them. Every company has the capacity to create better experiences through either automated or human interactions with candidates. And what’s more, given the money we spend on advertising, search, social recruiting, careers sites and SEO, shouldn’t we be making sure that the end point of all that activity isn’t the weakest part of our sales chain?