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The ideal candidate experience – how to attract the right talent | Part 4

Isabell Schastok
October 19, 2020

In part 3 of our blog series we showed how the design process of an ideal candidate journey can be structured. But what does an ideal candidate journey really look like in the end? What are concrete measures, and which general applicant needs must be addressed to bring the candidate journey to life? Basically, there are a couple of clearly defined points of contact that are the same for all candidate journeys, regardless of the target group. In addition, there are a number of optional elements to support an applicant-oriented recruiting process, which vary depending on the organization and applicant target group. We’ll show you how to get there!

A good Candidate Journey consists of six essential contact points

As part of a client project whose objective is to optimize the client’s candidate journey, we conducted extensive research on the topic and conducted qualitative interviews with over 100 potential candidates.[1] Our research and interviews revealed that every candidate journey – regardless of the position or organization – should contain six essential points of contact:

The initial contact between the applicant and the organization usually takes place online. A study by the University of Bamberg shows that 53.7% of candidates consider job boards on the internet to be one of the most suitable channels for finding a job. Other possibilities for online job searches are company websites or career networks. Personal recommendations or being approached by a headhunter are other popular recruiting channels. After submitting the application, the first response ideally consists of an (immediate) confirmation of receipt of the application. Depending on the applicant’s profile, the next step is either a rejection or an invitation to the selection process. Matching the position and organization, the type, and duration of the selection process varies and so does the type and number of contact points included in the process. A personal interview with the applicant is usually included in every candidate journey – if only to comply with the candidate’s wish to receive as much information as possible about the company and the position (see Gartner). As soon as the candidate accepts the written contract after an initial verbal offer, the actual candidate journey ends and becomes an employee journey with the following onboarding process.

These contact points are essential in an optimal candidate journey. However, the structure varies from organization to organization – and can be supplemented by further, optional elements.

A competitive Candidate Journey follows a target group’s specific and individual design

The individual design of the candidate journey should – as already described in the second blog of our series – fit the company, for example by reflecting the corporate culture. Above all, it must fit the applicant’s target group and address them with their values, preferences and needs.

Let’s consider Generation Z – the digital natives. They value simplicity, speed, and an optimized user experience. Digital tools are part of their everyday life and can be reached primarily through social media (Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.). That’s why they prefer a mobile-optimized job search and application submission process. They are used to virtual communication and therefore – unlike other generations – interaction with HR chatbots is not unusual for them (see Human Resource Manager).

Surveying over 100 potential applicants[1] highlighted the importance of feedback to Generation Z applicants. As they are at the beginning of their careers, they want to use the feedback – both during and after the application process – to constantly improve and develop themselves. Further, individual support and first insights into the company, e.g. in form of “buddies,” an internship or a trial day, are perceived as particularly interesting, as they help them to get to know the employer and future tasks “from the inside.”

The optimal Candidate Journey for Generation Z is mobile-optimized

Imagine you want to hire a digital native. In concrete terms, you need to find an IT developer with technical know-how, but also the appropriate mindset – an unconventional thinker, someone who sees the big picture, challenges given facts, and is passionate about what he/she does.

And then there is Anna. Anna is 24 years old and about to finish her studies in information technology. She is passionate about technology and uses Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp to communicate and stay in touch with friends and family. Currently, Anna is looking for a job in IT. Tailored to Generation Z, a potential candidate journey could look like this:

  1. Initial contact

Anna is already aware of your company, but unsure which position suits her best due to the large number of vacancies. Setting up a subscription to job advertisements on your career site helps her to identify the jobs that match her qualifications and preferences. The suggestions she receives by email intensify her interest. To learn more about your company, work culture, and everyday life, Anna follows your Instagram channel (see the UPS use case in our study on page 4). She is excited about your latest story introducing one of your employees and his last project. This way, she gets a better idea of the work as an IT developer.

  1. Application

The emails suggesting targeted job vacancies guide her directly to the corresponding job advertisement and a one-click application option. She just needs to either upload her CV or connect her LinkedIn profile. Like many other members of Generation Y and Z, she prefers the one-click application via her LinkedIn profile (see meta HR) and quickly links her online profile, which is always up to date and information rich. She is impressed by being able to share her motivation in a short video instead of a traditional motivation letter as this communication style is much closer to her habits (see the McDonalds use case).

  1. Feedback

Like most other applicants, Anna rates a regular and fast communication as very important (see Gartner). Therefore, she appreciates the option to individualize the way and intensity of communication with you in your applicant portal. She chooses communication via WhatsApp/phone and would like to be notified after every status change in her application process. Anna is positively surprised: directly after submitting her application, she receives a confirmation of receipt via WhatsApp and only two days later she gets a phone call with an invitation for the first interview.

  1. Selection phase

Since Anna prefers to text, she is thrilled that you are using a chatbot for a first screening (see the  L’Oreal use case). Short, informational videos in the applicant portal tell her what she can expect during the chat interview. These informational videos (see the Bosch use case) also help her to become more familiar with your company’s projects and events. Above all, Anna appreciates the insight into your corporate culture and into her potential future working day. Like many other applicants, the cultural fit is of high importance to her (see meta HR). Furthermore, the information given also help her to prepare for the following selection rounds and interviews.

  1. Verbal offer

After two weeks, Anna has successfully completed the different selection rounds. In addition to the verbal offer, Anna receives an invitation to a personal feedback conversation about her performance in the different selection rounds. Anna thankfully accepts the offer and is eager to learn more about her strengths and potential for improvement for similar situations in the future.

  1. Contract

After signing the contract, Anna is assigned to a buddy, who holds the same position she has applied for. Through her buddy, Anna receives further information about the company and the position until her actual job starts and resolves many administrative and organizational questions. Thus, she is well prepared to start her new job.

The Digitalization of the Candidate Journey offers multiple benefits

Many contact points or optional elements of the candidate journey can be further optimized using HR Tech and thus ensure a more efficient implementation of the journey. In our blog, you will find out during which phases of the candidate journey the use of HR Tech makes sense and supports an applicant-oriented recruiting.

This article is co-authored by Ann-Katrin Jünemann.

[1] Demographic data of interviewees is available upon request