Maximize Your Digital Candidate Experience to Improve Your Candidate Journey and Add Value to Your Talent Acquisition

Valerie Egan

Director of Learning & Development at Girl Scouts of USA

Learning Objectives

In this presentation we will talk about how your talent acquisition team can add more value to their digital recruitment function by improving the candidate journey. We will define the candidate experience and discuss why feedback is a key to understanding the candidate experience. This webinar will also explore the candidate journey, types of candidates and surveying candidates during the entire candidate experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Relevance of Candidate Experience Feedback

  • All phases of the candidate journey funnel & pain points for candidates

  • Understand your personal candidate journey

  • What is Candidate Experience?

  • Why is Feedback a Key to Candidate Experience?

  • Candidate Journey & Types of Candidates

"The positive candidate experience has an impact on how people perceive your business, whether they're hired or not."

Valerie Egan

Director of Learning & Development at Girl Scouts of USA


Thank you for joining me to discuss maximizing your digital candidate experience to improve candidate journey and add value to talent acquisition at your company. I’m Valerie Egan, and I’m the Director of Learning and Development for the Girl Scouts, where, recently, I expanded my reach into the talent management and learning function. I used to oversee the talent acquisition function for GS USA on a day to day basis, now I’ve moved into learning and development. Before joining GS USA, I worked for major companies such as Merrill Lynch, AT&T, and Lindsey, an oil and gas company. At Lindsey, I was the Head of Resourcing, where I manage the staffing function, and provided oversight to an outsourced vendor. My BS is in Marketing, and my MBA is in Information Systems from Pace University. I’m heavily involved in the HRO Today Association, where I was on their North American board. Over the years, I’ve attained several awards and recognition from that organization. For 2018, I was the Talent Acquisition Leader of the Year winner for nonprofits. For 2019. I was the HR Excellence Thought Leader winner for not nonprofits. Recently, I was named as Women of Talent by Crain’s New York.

Let’s talk a little bit about some key takeaways from the session today. We’re going to talk about the relevance of the candidate experience feedback, positive candidate experience, and the impact on how people perceive your business, all phases of the candidate journey funnel, and pain points for candidates. We’re gonna try to understand your personal candidate journey, and talk a little bit about serving your candidates during the entire process. Let’s also talk a little bit about some key points.

Workplace culture—it’s the way people work and behave in an organization. Employee value prop is what employees value most about working in an organization. An employer brand is how an employee organization brands and markets itself as an employer to attract and retain their talent. These three are built on each other.

The culture starts with an organization’s mission and vision to shape or reshape behavior. It isn’t the EDP or the brand—it’s the foundation of how the work gets done. Culture is buildable and changeable. As far as the EDP goes, it’s the collective elements employees value most about an employee experience. It’s formulated through research, not a series of assumptions from HR leaders. The research has to be unbiased, reliable, and valid from a focus group, for example. An employee of brands is what you become known for. Brand professionals need to determine what aspects of an EDP to sell, and develop a plan to sell.

Let’s talk a little bit more about maximizing your digital candidate experience to improve your candidate journey and add value to your talent acquisition. We’re gonna talk a little bit about the agenda, which we did with the introduction, and focus on some of these key points: the candidate experience, why feedback to a candidate is important, the journey, types of candidates, and through this we’ll talk about how some of this happens at the Girl Scouts.

What is candidate experience? It’s the results of all the interactions your candidate has with you during their journey. Feedback is the key to candidate experience. These are all very important to think about here. Workforce trends claim that 60% of job seekers have had at least one negative candidate experience. Recent Glassdoor article quotes that 72% share their negative experiences online, 46% of candidates have not heard back from employers two months after they’ve applied. Candidate experience benchmark report mentions that the number one source of high quality candidates is referrals, and bad reputation strongly impacts their viewpoint. 42% of people would not buy a company’s product if they had a bad experience on the candidate’s side. 20% of new hires leave before their first 90 days of employment. What’s really important here is that 100% of candidates who apply to a job—remember, are also potential customers, and they can influence the corporate people and brands. What does this all mean is fewer people may apply because of negative comments, which will affect your time to fill. Reputation could lead to mediocre candidates affecting quality of hire. Maybe goods and services could be boycotted.

Think about what’s the difference between feedback and reviews. Feedback is private, but reviews are public. Something to keep in mind when thinking about this is the candidate journey funnel, and the importance of feedback, awareness, what you should keep in mind at all times. Now, job boards, networks, career pages, social media, this all leads to consideration. Candidates look at postings, values, reviews on websites, and that leads to their interest. They compare employers, they scan social media, check company websites to see how the culture is. Is your culture represented accurately? If they feel good about what they see, this leads to the application process. Now the candidates are going to judge the length and the simplicity or difficulty of the process. A CareerBuilder research document says that if a candidate has to put in their entire resume, 60% of them will drop off. Candidates will also look to see if they receive email notifications, receiving applications, and the time it takes to reach out to them after the first notification. If they get to the selection and interview process, the timing is very crucial. The offer, the hire, and the onboarding is very critical. Why is it? Again, 28% of new hires leave before 90 days. You don’t want this after all the time that it takes to find them. It’s important within the first 90 days to keep employees engaged.

Implementing a new learning management system with a learning path for new employees for specific trainings is one of the things we’ve done at the Girl Scouts. Talents at the Girl Scouts, what we do, and want to do in order to move forward.

Surveys. Surveys are something that we are trying to start to implement. After an application, we want to ask questions and find out answers to, was our platform easy to use? Was it easy to upload the resume? Was the job description helpful? After the interviews, was the interviewer on time? Were they prepared? How was the timing? Was it a pleasant process? Even if they were rejected, was there clarity? Was there timing? Was it respectful? Does it want to make the candidate want to maybe apply again if they see another position? Communication is so important and even more robust communication. We want to avoid the black hole at all costs.

Post-application email. Can we showcase our website? Sign up for alerts for job openings, give timeframes. When it comes to the interviewing, trying to standardize our interviews is becoming important. Have teams and panels prepare ahead of time, so that panel members are not asking the same questions.

Digital interviewing. This way it can be done on the candidates’ own time, and regular status updates. Again, 65% of candidates are interviewing elsewhere. If you’re good at this process, it will make you stand out. 40% of candidates say that communication slows down after their acceptance. What can you do to do this? Provide materials. Send welcome emails from managers. Have managers call to say, “I’m looking forward to you coming on board.” Sometimes, send a small gift. With the rejections, maybe offer feedback and ask for feedback. This is what we’re trying to do to reinvent the talent process of finding people at the Girl Scouts.

Now, for talent acquisition specifically. If you look at this, what we want to do again is communicate and make people feel valued. Who thinks kindly of someone who doesn’t communicate clearly or often? I certainly don’t. I definitely would not think kindly of someone who ignored my phone calls or emails. I know how busy it can get for recruiters—I’ve been there. However, the worst mistake you can make is to not communicate clearly and often with your candidates and clients. Any relationship that you build and maintain can quickly deteriorate if you’re ignoring phone calls or emails. Even if you do not have the immediate time or information to provide regarding a question, reply back via email or make a quick phone call to let your client or candidate know that you’re going to try to find that information out for them, that you’ve received their message, and you’ll follow up with information tomorrow or as soon as you have it. Trust me, a simple acknowledgement that you’ve received their message makes a huge difference in regard to trust and reliability.

The use of video is important too, especially nowadays that a lot of us are working from home. Sometimes, as recruiters, it can be difficult for us to schedule face to face time with our clients and candidates. I know that in my past experience, it was not always easy to travel to the location of each of my clients and candidates. Distance, time zones, flight costs all can make it difficult for us to foster that important face to face interaction that helps to further build strong relationships. A remedy to this problem is the increasing use of video interviews that we’re seeing more of in the industry. If you haven’t tried to speak with candidates and connect candidates and clients, then you’re missing a beneficial tool in today’s recruiting industry. When it’s impossible to physically meet with your clients, and candidates, video can provide much more valuable interaction than the phone call.

So important within the first 90 days to keep employees engaged. Here, when we look at talent acquisition, we want to try to do the surveys and get data, so that we can analyze and see how things are going and establish our baseline. Then, we want to actually try to build this pipeline through the different ways that we can. We’ve talked about branding and pipelining. Again, talking to candidates all the way, and then forming good partnerships with them, and collaborating through the whole candidate journey. Really the top of this with innovating and the partnership and collaboration is what I’ve been talking about—the employee experience and engagement.

It’s so important, as we said within the first 90 days, to keep employees engaged because that’s when they tend to leave. Implementing a learning management system with a learning path for new employees was something that we worked on at the Girl Scouts. We wanted to have orientation, which we did on the first day, but also to start providing a learning path of courses and things that the employees can go through to help them keep engaged, so that over the next months, they have things that they can do and go through to learn more about the company.

Day one starts with HR. After that, the continuation is with the hiring departments, online materials, and also with checklists. The checklists to think about here are, and you’ll see I’ve embedded communication all through this, employee value proposition, robust career site, texting, onboarding, and beyond. To give you some examples, Goldman Sachs, for example, their employee value prop is, “At Goldman Sachs, you will make an impact.” With a rise in the millennial mindset of working for more than money, even Wall Street has changed their messaging to reflect adding value to employees versus companies. Again, check out how Goldman Sachs has leveraged their employees to the fullest and created content that shows off why it’s a great company to work for, due to their focus on type A team players who want to own their own careers.

At Target, their employee value prop centers around, “Oh, what fun. Hop in.” Target highlights a less serious culture and the values of growth and skill acquisition to potential candidates. L’Oreal, on the other hand, with their employee value prop has a thrilling experience inspiring company school of excellence. L’Oreal has invested in defining and showing off their AVP through a beautiful careers page complete with content designed to attract talent and help them succeed in the interview process. When you look, you can notice that the supporting statements of thinking outside the box, be part of our adventure, etc., show them doing what they want to do on their own through social media.

When it comes to texting candidates, there are four rules that every recruiter should follow. First, ask the candidate if they’re open to being texted. The second is keep things simple, and just use texting for logistics and follow-ups. Third, is be sensitive about the contents and timing of your texts. Fourth, use tools to manage your messages and stay organized. Text messaging can feel more personal. Personal, which any good recruiter knows, is a key component of the hiring process. The average person checks their phone over 150 times a day, and 91% of people report always having their phones within arm’s reach. Meaning, your message is sure to be seen. Texting is the preferred medium of communication for candidates aged 18 to 44. 99% of mobile phone owners have text messaging. Text messaging is immediate, eliminating the need for voicemails and phone tag. Text messages are read over 95% of the time, while emails only receive an average of 20% open rate.

Moments that matter. What I thought would be interesting to show here was how at first, we focus so much on the employee journey. We don’t have to go through this, but this just shows you the journey of the employee. It really starts on day one. Already really starts when we’re pipelining, we’re looking for people, we bring them on board. Then, they can go through their whole lifetime here, maybe parental leave, they’re going through training, they continue their education, get promoted, manage a team. Very important. We thought that what we should do with the Girl Scouts was to take this thought process, and apply it to the candidate journey. The candidate begins their journey after the consideration phase. They go through the application phase. This is when the candidate judges the process, how it’s been so far. The candidate reaches the selection phase. We have to think about, are there bottlenecks? Are there too many interviews? Good or bad experiences with interviewers? If the candidate has questions, how are they answered? The candidate, on the positive note, receives an offer. Is it timely? Is it detailed? Is the next step outlined? Before onboarding, what communication is there? Then, with onboarding, how is it going? Is there a buddy system? Is there somebody they can communicate with? Does the candidate feel comfortable at any step in the process to discuss questions even if they thought about them after the fact? We wanted to lead to a very positive engagement with our company or your company.

Now, in conclusion, I hope that you’ve seen that we have talked a lot about these key takeaways. Why candidate experience, feedback is very important. You always want that constant loop of going around, getting feedback, and making improvements. The positive candidate experience has an impact on how people perceive your business, whether they’re hired or not. If they’re not, you want them to still come away with a good impression of your company, so that they might want to try to interview in the future, they may want to have the children interview with you, and they just want to have a good feeling about the company. All phases of the journey could have pain points. You’ve really got to look at the whole journey, and think about the issues and questions that could come up, and how they can be addressed, so that you can understand the personal candidate journey. Survey during the process. People like to give feedback, so take this opportunity to get that feedback.

On a lighter note, some of the things to think about, should you do should you not do? Think about ghosting. If you think about ghosting, when you combine some of the recruiting and dating trends together, here’s just a couple of interesting images. Something called paper clipping is candidates who ghost an employer may reach back out suddenly when another job offer falls through, or an employer may reach back out when the other candidate withdraws. Sometimes, that can be called paper clipping, dial toning. When you connect with someone about a job and offer your contact info, but then you never hear from them. It’s similar to ghosting, but it happens right away.

Flatlining. When an interview is zooming along, and then suddenly, silence rears its ugly head, and you can’t get the person back. The candidate thinks that everything is going well, and then they never hear anything. That’s called flatlining.

Caspering. It’s like ghosting, but it’s a little friendlier. You get a short message, but then you never hear anything back. Think about how these all have an effect on your brand and your employee value proposition.

At this point, I hope that this was helpful. I want to thank you for taking the time to spend talking about the candidate experience, candidate feedback, and how really listening to the candidate, surveying them, taking their feedback, and trying to make adjustments will help your brands, and help you get the right people to come join your company, and to stay. Thank you.

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