How does the candidate experience impact employer brand? By Sarah Benson, Search Consultant

How does the candidate experience impact employer brand? By Sarah Benson, Search Consultant

“By the year 2020, customer service will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands. And 80% of surveyed consumers say that small businesses provide better service than larger companies.”

When most of us think about the customers of the recruitment industry we are more likely to refer to clients – after all they are the ones who pay the bill at the end of a process/service. However, clients are only half of the customer service equation, candidates are also important customers of any recruitment function and recruitment business. In order to build a better candidate experience, it is vital that recruitment functions and recruitment businesses alike start to view candidates as their customers.

A recent statistic showed that it takes 12 positive experiences to recover from a single negative one. Whilst this might be a consumer centric stat it makes sense when we translate into a recruitment perspective.  Consumers have become more and more accustomed to the personalised, on-demand experiences that they receive from digital disruptors like Amazon, Apple, Airbnb and Instagram. The way candidates expect to engage with a future employer or recruitment firm is no different and in this way candidates are less forgiving if their expectations are not met.

In a world where consumer feedback about a company, product or service can travel the globe within moments, it’s even more important to consider getting it right first time …take the example of this tweet about snapchat recently…

 “Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” Ms Jenner said in a tweet on the Wednesday.  By Thursday afternoon, the value of Snap, which owns the messaging service Snapchat, had plummeted by several percentage points.  The drop-off erased some $1.3bn (£900m) in market value.”  From The Independent 22nd February 2018

This is rather an extreme example that demonstrates the influence of celebrity on popular opinion, however, the principle meaning is the same; if one person has a bad experience, millions might hear about it.

So why is it so important to encourage and create a positive candidate experience, and to expect one from your recruitment provider? In the long run it helps organisations; a positive candidate experience can lead to new hires making even more effort in their role and it can be linked to greater levels of retention, which in turn can influence greater productivity, a more positive working environment and a stronger employer value proposition.

The benefits of providing and giving a great candidate experience have been debated over the years and many companies now correlate a good candidate experience with a positive impact on the bottom line. And in a recent Monster poll 3,000 candidates surveyed post completing a recruitment process, identified other positives of a great candidate experience: 97% would refer others to the organisation and 95% of unsuccessful candidates would apply again if another, more suitable role came up.

If it is so impactful, why does it often seem as though creating a great candidate experience is impossible to achieve?

For many organisations time is a key component in their inability to offer an exceptional candidate experience, sometimes it is lack of experience and often it is lack of insight into how it feels to be a candidate. However, with the candidate experience seen an essential component of an employer’s brand if organisations fail candidates, they risk failing their brand. The story is the same whether it is an in-house process being managed directly by a recruitment function or if a business is entrusting their recruitment to a third party like Executives in Africa (EiA).

In the last six months Executives in Africa has had the opportunity to engage with over 4000 candidates on behalf of over 40 clients looking for new, senior hires for their respective businesses.  As a business we had 4000 opportunities to either create a great candidate experience on behalf of our clients or 4000 opportunities to do the opposite. In this way we are trusted implicitly to embody the brand and convey the unique employer value propositions of each of our clients and give their candidates the best candidate experience possible.

At the same time, it is important that each person we make contact with and each candidate we engage with feels like they are the only person we are talking to that day.  So the question is how do you make 4000 potential candidates each feel special and each feel as though we are treating them as the unique entity that they are?

Getting it right first time is often the key and then ensuring consistency with each subsequent message and contact is vital thereafter.  At EiA we have created a defined process, some of which is proprietorial, that aims to find the best available candidates for our clients every time.

The process begins with engaging candidates and will take each relevant candidate through a journey of information-gathering in the form of interviews, behavioural assessments that align to client competencies and the opportunity to engage with at least three representatives of EiA.  It is a high touch process designed to enable the client and the candidate to qualify and quantify their fit to the role and organisation.

It is also a process that has proven itself time over, with 100% success rate on new mandates and 99% stay rate with new hires, statistics that speak volumes about the process and perhaps of equal importance –  the candidate experience!

We all need to think about what we want candidates to say about their experience with our organization and commit to do what it takes to make that a reality.  Sarah Fitzgerald, Managing Director of Executives in Africa, covered this as an important part of her Masterclass last week in Lagos Nigeria at the HR Expo Africa 2018, ‘Practical Tools to Attract, Engage and Match Top Talent’.  To receive a full copy of this one our Masterclass or to speak to me further about my views on this, please contact Sarah Benson at

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