The candidate experience is toxic – and it needs to change!

The candidate experience is toxic-and it needs to be changed!

Having gone through the candidate experience as a recent graduate, it seems many in the recruitment process have forgotten the mental toll of relentlessly searching for jobs. The feelings of hope and excitement when applying to a role and a company that you think is a perfect fit, are repeatedly crushed when you receive radio silence.

 Too often hiring managers are reviewing applications at face value. Candidates are more than a piece of paper in front of you, so when you toss the rejections in the bin, you’re doing the same with their emotions. To put it simply, the current state of the candidate experience not only demoralises applicants, it also dehumanises them.

Sorry hiring managers, but the superiority complex does exist!

The recruiting experience has to be changed, as soon as possible!

The lack of empathy displayed through the idea that rejected candidates are not worth manager’s time is the underlying issue. It’s a superiority complex, and this toxic mindset fuels the negative candidate experience. Brigette Hyacinth talks about needing to put the ‘human’ back into human resources, and she couldn’t be more accurate!

Ultimately, candidates want to work for you and have put a lot of time and effort into their applications, it isn’t unreasonable to demand a little time and effort is replicated in return. Yes, it can be argued that candidates must earn respect – but it’s important to remember that respect is a two-way street.

What a lot of managers also fail to consider is the image they are portraying on behalf of their organisation. A recruitment process that lacks transparency says a lot (accurately or not) about a company’s culture and the management style in place – communication is considered such an important soft skill by hiring managers, maybe it’s time for them to start practicing what they preach.

With this in mind, here are some top tips for recruiters to re-humanise the candidate experience, as well as what graduates can do to improve their chances of getting a response from employers.

Three tips to employers to improve your recruitment processes

  1. Show a little empathy You were on the other side of the candidate experience once before – put yourself in the applicant’s shoes – how would you like to be treated?
  2. Something is better than nothingA response doesn’t have to be a personalised message; a generic, automated email will do. Failing that, a line at the bottom of job postings stating that if candidates don’t hear back within x days, they should assume the application is unsuccessful will at least bring some closure.
  3. Provide feedbackIf someone has an interview with you, whether it be phone, video, or face-to-face, give them feedback if they didn’t get the role. Candidates invest time and money, travelling far and wide – the least you could do is let them know how they can improve for their next interview. 

Five tips to graduates to improve your employment chances

  1. Use LinkedInIt’s a great tool to not only search for jobs but also to promote your personal brand. Make sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn and ensure your headline states exactly what you’re looking for – avoid being generic – ‘open to creative opportunities’ tells recruiters precisely nothing. Follow companies you are interested in applying to and engage with their content and other industry-related posts.
  2. Always write a covering letterEven if the job role doesn’t state you need to, a covering letter shows you’re serious and interested in the company. Do your research on the organisation and include relevant industry news or particular case studies you liked and why – does any of it relate to work you’ve done at university? Finally, state what you can bring to their organisation – does their company ethos resonate with you? Or maybe you have industry experience or certain desirable soft skills?
  3. Think outside the boxThere’s a lot of competition out there so you need to stand out. For industries such as marketing, creative CVs are a great way to get ahead of the game – a particularly good one was a Candy Kitten’s applicant, but less abstract versions will still give your CV some personality and be to your advantage.
  4. Ask for feedback after any type of interviewIf you don’t ask you don’t always get! Without this, you can’t identify what you need to improve on to ace your next interview.
  5. Don’t give up!As Brigette Hyacinth says: “You weren’t rejected, you were redirected”, if you didn’t get the job then it wasn’t for you, pick yourself up and look forward to the next one that may well be your perfect fit.

It’s important to highlight that there are steps to be taken on both sides in order to improve the candidate experience, and hopefully these tips will help to bridge the gap in expectations between employers and applicants.

Are you struggling with your job search?

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About post author

A 2019 Business Management and Marketing graduate, Olly is a keen writer and has experience writing articles in tech and B2B. He is skilled in SEO, content writing and social media, having worked in junior marketing positions throughout his degree. Olly has secured a Marketing Assistant role at Gripped, a B2B inbound marketing agency aimed at growing tech and SaaS businesses.
Posted in It's A Grad's Life, Tools for Your Job Search