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Is Your Application Process Up To Scratch

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Is Your Application Process Up To Scratch

Tom Page

We're all too aware of how competitive the Tech talent market is right now in the Netherlands. However, despite this fact, I still see many companies not maximising their chances of securing the candidate of their choice. Most companies know the benefits of having a careers site that's informative, engaging and helps to accurately portray the role & company culture. In order for a candidate to apply for any role, they have to be excited by the prospect of working at that company and this is where the careers page comes in. There are also some great SaaS platforms in the market like Recruitee, Lever, Bamboo, Workable, Homerun etc, allowing smaller companies in startup or scaleup phase to easily create something appealing. But what about after the candidate has applied?  

All too often, I see companies' application process (also known as the candidate's journey) lacking any real thought or attention. What's the point in investing in a great careers landing page if the experience the candidate gets after applying fails to live up to the initial hype!? Giving a candidate who's shown an interest in your company an awesome journey through your application process not only keeps the candidate engaged, it also demonstrates your attention to detail as a company. It gives that individual an insight into how the rest of the company is run and shows them that their application is really valued. 

Below are some ideas on how to improve the candidate’s application journey. Most come at no cost and are easy to create or implement :)

1.Application Response

Nailing the application response is a great way to set the tone for the candidate journey as well as letting the applicant know you've received their CV and appreciate them choosing you as a potential employer. Most career page platforms offer the option to create an automated application response but not having this option is no excuse! You can easily create some email templates that can be sent to each applicant. A great application response email solidifies the candidates initial decision to apply as the right one. Some of the points you can cover in this email are:

  • Thanking the applicant for choosing your company
  • Referencing the role (in case they might have chosen the wrong advert)
  • Managing expectations on feedback response timescales
  • Encouraging the applicant to check out & follow your social media channels (great chance to showcase your company culture)
  • Links - Any recent news articles, blogs, company announcements, achievements etc that you're proud of or demonstrate the company ethos? Great! Now's the time to share them.

2.Interview Emails

This is often an area where I see minimum effort. If a company chooses to interview an applicant, it indicates the candidate (at least on paper) is relevant for that vacancy and is worth the time commitment that comes with interviewing. As a result, this is really where you should step it up with the effort that goes into communication. Once an interview is arranged, a confirmation email should be sent to the candidate with as much relevant information as possible. Yes you have the standard stuff; time, date, the person they'll be interviewing with, location etc. But you can provide so much more:

  • The LinkedIn profile links for the interviewers - this allows the candidate to research that individual, understand their background, see what they look like (prevents the awkward "Are you....? at interview). It also allows the candidate to perhaps identify some common ground that could be used to build rapport at interview stage.
  • Again, another opportunity to provide links to company content such as news articles, blogs, company posts etc.
  • An agenda for the interview. So many candidates have to enter an interview not knowing what the structure will be and the general line of questioning. This can lead to increased anxiety as well as the candidate's having to spend hours upon hours researching every single avenue of questioning, again leading to higher levels of stress. Providing this information allows the candidate to research areas that are relevant and enter the interview in a calmer state, knowing what is ahead.
  • Remind the candidate why they applied! - Sometimes it can be a week or more since the candidate applied. Keep them invested in their application by selling the benefits of working at your company - perhaps there's some video content that can be shared. This is the time to do it.

3.Communicating an Offer

So, the candidate has got through the interview process and now it comes to crunch time, the offer. It amazes me how companies will spend a fortune on other parts of the application process but when it comes to the offer, write a simple email or a standard word document in Arial 10 font. This is the part of the candidate journey that requires maximum effort!

  • Be Imaginative - think about how you can communicate the offer in a fun and creative way. Try and make the offer visually appealing and engaging to read.
  • Last Chance Saloon - this is the last opportunity to promote why a candidate should pick your company as their next employer. So, any further content, articles, video's etc are great to include
  • Benefits - Make sure to accurately communicate the benefits an employee can expect to receive (again, try and do this in a fun and creative way using images rather than just text)
  • Why Pick You? This is one area that I see a lot of companies completely miss. On any offer email, be sure to explain why a candidate should pick your company to work for. What are the biggest career advantages of picking this role? Why should a candidate pick your company? How are you different from your competitors? What makes your culture special? 
  • Think Outside the Box! - The more original you can be, the more you'll stand out from your competitors and other offers the candidate may have. Experiment and see what works!

4.Post Offer

It's really important to maintain consistent contact in the time between offer acceptance and start. This is a great opportunity to communicate any company announcements, team achievements or news. It makes the candidate who's joining already feel part of the company and will lead to them being more at ease and familiar when they actually start. Organising team drinks or a meal is also a great chance for the individual to get to know everyone. Having set communication that gets sent at pre-determined times also creates a "countdown to joining" and builds a sense of excitement for the candidate.

In Summary

  • First Impressions Are Key - A great first impression is so important to attracting high quality talent and implementing some of the points above should help in this aim. 
  • It's Emotional - Remember, a candidate's decision to apply for a role is largely logical but their decision to join a company is way more emotional. As a result, how that person feels about your company and the application process is a priority.
  • Be Creative - Making the application fun & humorous whilst being informative is key - if your company operates in a particular sector, use that to your advantage by creating a narrative around your space.  
  • Make a plan - sit down with your hiring team and plan out the candidate application process, creating templates and delegating tasks. A great application experience should be consistent, not a one off!
Good Luck!