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Keep Your Promise to Optimize the Candidate Experience

The best candidates have choices. Most are employed and those who aren't receive a continuous stream of offers from recruiters. How can you differentiate your organization from the herd and your opening from the others that are available? Optimize the candidate experience in your recruiting process by making a promise and then keeping it.

Recruiting the best talent is an exercise in stimulating irrational behavior. Because most top performers are already employed, you have to persuade them to do something they don't want to do - change. You must convince them to move from the devil they know (their current employer, boss and commute) to the devil they don't know (your employer, a new boss and a different commute).

What would induce them to take such a crazy (from their perspective) action? You have to make the right promise and then deliver on it. Those two steps are the single best way to optimize the candidate experience. And, an optimal candidate experience is the single best way to pry reluctant talent out of another organization.

The best talent share a similar aspiration: they want to be the best they can be in their profession, craft or trade. Whether they are nurses, accounts payable clerks or salespeople, they are driven to express and experience as much of their talent - their innate capacity for excellence - as they can at work.

For that reason, they are always looking for a "career advancement opportunity," even when they are happily employed. They define such an opportunity as a work experience - a specific job inside a specific organization - that will enable to perform at their peak. What they want from a prospective employer, therefore, is a commitment to provide just that kind of support.

Shopping for Employers

Top performers aren't motivated by the requirements and responsibilities of a job. Instead, they want to know what it's like to work in an organization and whether that experience will aid and abet their quest to excel.

Therefore, step one in optimizing the candidate experience is to develop an employment brand which provides that information. Unlike its kissing cousin among consumer products, however, an employment brand is not a gimmicky tag line. Rather, it is a statement of values. It defines the culture of an organization. In essence, a brand makes a promise: it tells the candidate this is what it will be like if they come to work for your organization.

In today's cynical workplace, however, a promise - even the right promise - is only as good as its credibility. To put it another way, top talent shops for employers the same way they shop for a car. They listen to the promise a vendor makes about its product, but they don't accept it as fact. Instead, they "test drive" the product to ensure the promise is true.

How do candidates test drive an employer? They create a surrogate. They use the organization's recruiting process to gauge its work experience. They believe that the way they are treated as candidates will foretell the way they will be treated as employees.

Therefore, step two in optimizing the candidate experience is to align what you've said about your employer's work experience with what you do in your recruiting process. Every interaction and every piece of literature must stay true to and reinforce what the employment brand promised about the culture and values of the organization.

For example, if your organization's employment brand promises a collegial working environment, use an applicant's interview to introduce them to the people who would be their colleagues. And, make those introductions in the cubicle area, offices or lab where they would be working. Give them a feel for the supportive culture they would experience as an employee.

To recruit the best talent, make the right promise and keep it. Create a consistent, integrated portrait of what it's like to work in your organization and then bring that portrait to life through the experience you provide candidates in your recruiting process.

Thanks for reading,

Visit my blog at Weddles.com/WorkStrong.

August 2012
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