Your HR strategy should be about humans, not resources. It’s important to recruit them honestly, engage them like you would a friend, and build an emotional connection—the talent lifecycle is not a transaction. One way to do this is by using content to foster a great candidate experience that makes people feel valued and think well of your company, whether or not they get the job. Candidates are potential brand ambassadors for your company and could become employees down the road. You want to nurture this community so that over time you have an engaged community of talent at your fingertips. It’s important to think about how you’re creating a great experience at every step of the way, both during and after the hiring process.
Before you start the work of defining or improving your candidate experience, check in with your employees to make sure you’re living an authentic and compelling employer story. Candidates won’t settle for just any company. They expect to work in a place where they can be their whole selves and see their own values reflected in the company culture. Capturing what employees love most about your company’s culture and values will enable you to craft stories and content in a way that is authentic and meaningful to your target talent pool. Once you have that figured out, you’re ready to go!
Here are some tips and advice on how to humanize the candidate experience through timely and relevant content.
Your careers page is one of the best places to start sharing your content. This is where most candidates are going to go to learn about your job openings, and it’s a great opportunity to show them what life is like at your company. Give them insight into your company values and culture by introducing them to your team through compelling media content. Video testimonials from employees will bring these values to life and tell a larger company story. And, empowering your team to be your biggest brand advocates will ensure your employer story is genuine and builds trust with candidates.
Another great way to engage candidates is by giving them a tour of your office space. Ideally, you want to do this in person but that can be challenging before the application stage. Giving them that sneak peek before they ever apply will help candidates envision themselves in the space they could be working. You’ll want to make sure your careers page includes photographs of the work spaces that showcase some of the more unique aspects of your culture. For example, a game room or meditation space is a great way for employees to relax and forget about work for a while. A day care or private room for nursing mothers shows how you support parents and families at work. Highlight what’s special about your office space through visually compelling images that let future employees know what’s important to you.
Applications and interviews
There are so many opportunities to provide an engaging candidate experience throughout the hiring process, and it starts the second someone applies. But before we dig in here, I’d like you to take a moment to put yourself in the applicant’s shoes. Start to imagine that you’ve found what could be your dream job. You update your resume, you write an awesome cover letter that showcases exactly why everything you’ve done up to this point makes you the ideal candidate for this role, you click apply, and you wait. And then you wait some more. And you start wondering, “Did anyone receive my application? Maybe it never went through. How soon is too soon to follow up? Should I follow up?”
As an employer, you have the opportunity to create a different candidate experience. So make sure every person who applies to one of your open roles hears from you and knows the status of their application. With applicant tracking systems, it’s so easy to set up auto-reply messages, and you can customize these emails to make them more personal and true to your brand. At The Muse, we let candidates know that their application didn’t fall into a black hole, and that they can expect to hear from someone on our talent acquisition team. We also share links to Muse articles with advice to help them prepare for interviews. And more importantly, we respond. Whether it’s good news or not, we let them know if we’ll be inviting them to interview.
Once the interview process begins, the chance to create a positive experience continues. Consider sharing content that lets them know exactly what to expect during the interview process. For example, try creating a one-sheeter that describes your company’s values and mission and gives an overview of the end-to-end interview process. Then, give this to candidates before their first interview. This will go a long way to get candidates excited about your company and help manage expectations along the way.
Another way to engage candidates is by sharing those video testimonials you created for your careers page. This will help them prepare for interviews, feel more connected to your team, and learn more about what it’s like to work at your company. It’s okay if you don’t have a video for every member of your team—you can also share videos that represent your culture more broadly.
One more thing to keep in mind is that the opportunity to create an engaging candidate experience does not stop with the interviews. You should also be thoughtful in your communication when rejecting candidates. You can still use content in a creative way, whether that’s giving them tangible feedback to walk away with or sharing tips on how to be successful in future interviews. Often times, while there may not be a good fit right now, these are people who could be perfect for a future opportunity. Keeping in touch with them helps you build a talent community that you can activate when the opportunity arises.
Beyond the hiring process
You’ve put a lot of work into creating an authentic employer brand and an engaging, human candidate experience. Developing your talent community helps extend that relationship and is a chance to build your brand even further. Nurture this community by sharing relevant and timely content that gives them a behind-the-scenes look into your values and culture. Share recent press, company awards, or insight into the cool programs your employees get to be a part of, whether that’s a company-wide volunteer day or an innovation workshop that encourages employees to test new ideas. Find creative ways to distribute that content—start a community forum on your social channels, develop a webinar series, or encourage your employees to contribute their unique stories to a company blog. Engaging your talent community in this way will help them visualize what it’s like to be a part of your team.
It also means that, as an employer, you can spend less time managing inbound applications and more time activating highly-skilled, passive talent who understand your values, are eager to work with your company, and more likely to respond when a position becomes available.