The initial interactions candidates have when dealing directly with organisations represent the very first opportunity to demonstrate who you are, your people values and to build a relationship that may live long in the memory, irrespective of the application outcome.

All too often we see and hear of experiences that are bereft of the human touch and do great disservices to some very good organisations.

A digital experience must do its utmost to replicate the same positive emotions and feelings of that of a face to face encounter. Here are just four examples, where improvement opportunities are in abundance:

1. The window of opportunity.

Typically when you talk to organisations, they’re keen to fill positions quickly, yet bizarrely processes are incredibly longwinded. They must capitalise on candidate’s excitement and enthusiasm about the prospect of the opportunity but be under no illusion that with each passing day interest dwindles. Shorten application windows. Make a commitment to review and communicate with incoming candidates daily. Notify them if they’re unsuccessful. Put others on initial shortlists and inform them of such. Send them further content about you and the role. Organisations can get seriously creative about how they maintain interest if they spared it thought.

2. The application process.

Organisations stipulate how candidates must present themselves and showcase their experience, be it CV’s, personal statements, excruciatingly long-winded application forms or even video submissions. As opposed to dictating how candidates must apply, why not empower people to represent and express themselves in a manner they feel most comfortable with? Let them showcase their creativity. Don’t confine and restrict people. You’d learn far more about someone by doing so.

3. “If you’ve not heard from us within xx days/weeks, please assume you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion” 

How did such a discourteous practice ever become so commonplace? At the very least is it really such an imposition to inform people they’ve been unsuccessful and thank them for the no doubt significant time and trouble they’ve invested into showing an interest in your organisation?

4. “Due to the high volume of applications we are unable to provide individual feedback”

Imagine the scenario. You provide feedback that would help someone secure the next role they applied for. Everyone would jump at the chance to do so. You’d feel great you were able to help someone. So why has a reluctance to provide feedback become another mind-boggling practice that’s such a widely adopted norm? Organisations are not unable to provide feedback. They’re unwilling. They deem their responsibilities to have ended at this point.

All of these things take time, consideration, effort and the appreciation that change is necessary. The treatment of candidates is often inconsistent with the people values organisations profess to have. The fact that very few organisations measure the candidate experience paints its own picture.

Organisations should be crafting a human experience they can be proud of and should never overlook the fact that candidates are often customers too.

When they reach the point of realisation that they exist to serve communities of people, and their responsibilities are far broader, only then will they unlock outcomes that eclipse any previous endeavours.

These examples represent poor starts to a relationship that requires candidates to yield to a process that exists to suit organisations, completely lacking in compassion and empathy. If you likened the current candidate experience to a first date, with everyone striving to make a positive first impression, humankind would have a perilous future.

We must challenge ourselves, our colleagues and our organisations. Whether we build a lasting relationship today with a candidate, in the future or our paths just momentarily cross this once in life organisations can do so much better.

CXM had the opportunity to speak with Robert in January this year.

Robert is a Judge at the upcoming UK Employee Experience Awards 2020.

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