For those that don’t yet know me, I’ll kick off with a brief introduction. My name is Caitlin van der Merwe and I’m currently a Senior HRBP specializing in talent acquisition (which is a fancy title for a recruiter :P). I joined BroadReach in the midst of our first hard lockdown here in South Africa, and have been focusing on bringing the best possible talent out there (internally and externally) into roles that will help drive the new strategy we have embarked on.
Recruitment requires a broad spectrum of skills to be successful, but the most important (in my humble opinion) is that of the Art of Candidate Experience.
So what is Candidate Experience?
The candidate experience is the way a candidate will subjectively perceive the recruitment process with any given employer, whether they be applying for an internal role, or applying externally. This experience starts right from the job application stage and runs through to signing an offer and being onboarded, with all the little and big steps in between, such as interviews, feedback and communication.
Why is Candidate Experience important?
Here’s the part where I get really passionate, and my team can attest to how often I preach my “mini ambassador” theory. Regardless of whether a candidate is successful or not on a job application with BroadReach, their experience will determine how they speak publicly about our company going forward. Naturally, if their experience was negative, this can have far reaching implications, in that they could potentially speak to a friend, who speaks to their family, who happens to have the perfect talent for us, and BOOM all your hiring credibility is lost! So you can see how creating an amazing experience for all candidates (yes ALL candidates) can be so vital.
How do you go about the Art of Candidate Experience?
It’s surprisingly easy, and really just requires 3 sets of behaviors from the recruiter and hiring team:
- Communication: this is the most vital aspect. It’s important to always give clear timelines so that candidates know what to expect from the process, and (here’s the kicker) if that changes, communicate it! You’d be surprised how understanding people will be of changes to the process and timelines, as long as you’re keeping them in the loop. It’s always really important to live our value of We are our Word – if you commit to feedback by a certain date, make sure you stick to your word.
- Empathy: we are living in an incredibly tough economic climate right now, and it’s not unique to South Africa. All over the world people are losing their jobs, and hence their ability to provide for their family – all of this makes the job search an emotionally charged exercise and it becomes really important, again, to live our value of We are Compassionate. It requires the recruiter and hiring team to act with care, grace, compassion and empathy. It goes a long way! Here’s a great example of where the BR recruitment team acted with compassion, and it was felt: LinkedIn post. This was a small change the recruitment team made to our “reject” letters, but it made such a big impact!
- Authenticity: I know this one was left for last, but don’t mistake that to mean it’s less important. People can feel when you’re not being real, so don’t fall into that trap. It’s incredibly important to be real and your true self when engaging with candidates. This is the best way for them to get a true sense of the culture at BroadReach. It’s also okay to be vulnerable – over my 7 years of recruiting, I have cried MANY times with candidates, over wins and losses, and those are the people that will come back to me time and time again when they are looking for a new role, because they truly feel you are invested in their success.
What can I do as a BR employee to contribute towards candidate experience?
The best thing you can do is continue to live our values so that as you interact with the working world outside of BR, you too, are acting as a brand ambassador. Other small things that you can do that go a long way:
- Respond to job seekers messaging you on LinkedIn: I know it can often be frustrating to get unsolicited mails on LinkedIn from people asking you to refer them to the hiring team etc, but remember that you were once there yourself! You don’t have to respond with an essay – just acknowledge and then point them in the right direction (aka send them to me :P)
- Like & Share BR LinkedIn content: LinkedIn works on degrees of connections, so by sharing our content you may just be making someone outside of our normal reach, aware of who we are and what we do
- Engage with our internal content platforms – like Talk Time Tuesday, the intranet, the newsletter so you are up to date with our news and progress and can talk to others about the awesome work we are doing.
At the end of the day, if we can give candidates (both successful and unsuccessful) even just one positive and memorable moment during their candidate experience, we will have made an impact on them – and who knows what that impact could bring.