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Applying a Sales Funnel Framework to the Candidate Journey

This image depicts the importance of the candidate journey. The applicant is at a fork in the road, the enticing path is an enjoyable candidate journey, whereas the treacherous path is depicts poor candidate journey.

Think of Your Application Process as a Candidate Journey

More than Just the Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is one of the hottest topics in recruiting and hiring, and for good reason. An enjoyable candidate experience boosts your applicant to candidate conversion rates, increases the effectiveness of your hiring process, and builds a strong employer brand. Unfortunately, many organizations still fall short when it comes to treating candidates like customers. Most employers focus strictly on top of the funnel activities like making their apply process easy, and vuola- candidate experience right? Nope. That’s just one chapter in the story.

The reality is that the candidate experience is comprised of every single touch point that a candidate has with your company throughout the job search and the application process- your website, your job posting, your application, your emails, phone screens, employee interviews, your offer process… it becomes dizzying, right? Orchestrating a hire is tough business.

For this reason, at Newton, we take an end-to-end approach when it comes to creating the ideal candidate experience. In fact, rather than having an experience, we believe that candidates embark upon a full-fledged journey when they decide to apply for a job. To provide the ideal candidate journey, you need to meet candidates where they are at (at every fork in the road), to guide them through the process and keep them from straying off course.

To add business context to the candidate journey, we like to think of it as a funnel. Similar to a sales funnel, a large number of candidates enter in at the top of your recruiting funnel and then need to be nurtured through the various stages to convert them into hires.

 

This image displays the candidate journey funnel. The 4 stages are attract, engage, communicate, and close.

Attract

The top of your funnel consists of all the candidates that you’ve attracted to your jobs. Remember that your job description is an advertisement, so be sure to treat it as such. Write something that compels a job seeker to take the leap and apply.

Go Mobile

Speaking of applying, nearly 70% of job searches are initiated from a smartphone. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a mobile revolution. The number of mobile-only internet users is growing every day. If your job application process isn’t mobile-optimized you are missing out on a massive group of applicants. Unsure where to start in optimizing your apply process for mobile? Check out our 6 rules for mobile-optimized recruiting.

Streamline the Process

Keep in mind, simply making your application mobile-optimized doesn’t automatically make it user-friendly. If your current application is cumbersome or complex, mobile-optimized or not, candidates won’t want to complete it. Still not ready to give up all of those questions? It’s time to rethink your application process. But what is the ideal length of an online job application? There is no conclusive answer but a SHRM referenced study found that keeping your application process under 5 minutes increases candidate conversion rates by 365 percent!

Need hard evidence that longer application times lead to higher candidate drop-off rates? Take a look at the aggregate data pulled directly from nearly 1400 small and medium-size, US-based employers that rely on the Newton applicant tracking system.

duration-vs-success-graph-v5

Engage

Once you have attracted a candidate, and they enter into your funnel, it’s time to engage them. Engagement starts with acknowledgment. A study by Talent Board found that nearly half of all candidates never even hear back about the status of their application. No one wants to apply to a black hole.

Provide Acknowledgment That You Have Received the Application

To set yourself apart as an engaged employer and to maintain an attractive employment brand, you need to acknowledge every applicant. Nearly every applicant tracking system has functionality that allows you to customize and automate the delivery of thank you emails.

Being a Black Hole Doesn’t Just Hurt the Candidate

Just like with restaurant reviews, the world of employment has been democratized. If you don’t engage job applicants consistently, sooner or later it will catch up to you. 70% of people now look to employer reviews before they make career decisions, and these reviews play a deciding role in whether or not a candidate will consider employment at your organization. To be certain, this is a list that you don’t want to make.

Communicate

While screening candidates, there is nothing more important than frequent communication. Effectively closing candidates, starts with the first conversation and the process never really ends. When employers provide candidates with all of the information that they need upfront (such as interview/phone screen times, who they will be speaking with, location, etc.), they reduce the natural anxiety that inhibits many candidates from putting their best foot forward. This allows candidates to open up and be their true self, which helps you to make a fair assessment of their potential fit for your position.

Closure is Key

Communication does not stop if the candidate is not selected to move forward. Delivering bad news may not be fun but it’s critical for offering closure. While candidates may feel rejected, in the end, they need to know where they stand so that they can move on and focus on other opportunities. Nothing is worse than being left in limbo, especially when a candidate has put themselves out there to interview with you.

Communication Goes a Long Way

Remember, you don’t have to to be the sexiest employer with the most perks and highest salary to close candidates.  Many times, candidates will gravitate towards the employer that has communicated consistently and thoroughly throughout the hiring process.

Close

Many employers think that once they have identified a candidate to hire, their work is done. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Chances are, your candidate is deciding between several offers. You have already invested so much time into this process, now is not the time to get complacent and throw it all away. Remember the cardinal rule- time is the enemy of all deals. Once you have selected your hire, you need to get them to the finish line, and fast.

Always Be Closing

To start, take a look at our guide to boosting your offer acceptance rates, where we outline 5 steps to closing 95% of your job offers. In conjunction with these 5 steps, you need to make it easy for candidates to say yes. To that end, it is important to digitize the final steps of the candidate journey just like you have the beginning.

Digital Background Checks

Nearly every employer should be conducting some form of FCRA-compliant background screening through an NAPBS accredited pre-employment screening vendor. This needs to be a digital process for three critical reasons:

  1. Online submissions are completed nearly 70% faster than using paper forms and PDFs.
  2. Background check providers present all of the compliance notices to candidates that register online.
  3. HR and Recruiting staff won’t be storing risky PII in their emails and on their computers.

Digital Offer Letters

Once everything’s in order, it’s time to create and send an offer letter. While some still argue that mailing physical offer letters is more personal, it creates an inconvenience for applicants. Will they be home to sign for the package? Are they supposed to mail it back or fax it? Who has a fax machine? You might as well send a carrier pigeon. Also, this takes us back to the importance of time. Postage mail just isn’t efficient.

The vast majority of employers send offer letters via PDF email attachments. Although a better alternative to the methods mentioned previously, this is still not user-friendly for the candidate. How are they supposed to sign the offer letter and date stamp it? And remember all of those mobile users. Can they easily view an emailed PDF attachment on their phone?

Make it easy to say yes. Close out the candidate journey on a high note and drive candidates through the final conversion stage by utilizing digital offer letters than can be easily delivered, reviewed, signed, and returned from any device.


You Can Create the Ideal Candidate Journey – Learn How!

In our October Bootcamp, Newton co-founder, Joel Passen, will elaborate on the above topics and share his step-by-step guidance for creating an application process that leads to an enjoyable candidate journey.

Join Us!

Tuesday, October 25th at 10 am PST / 1 pm EST.

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About Danny Madigan

I am the Marketing Associate at Newton Software. At Newton, our mission is to simplify the lives of Recruiters, HR professionals and Hiring Managers everywhere through our industry-leading applicant tracking software for small and medium-sized companies.