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Star Candidate Experience in 17 Steps

On January 25, 2012, in From The Vault, HRExaminer, by John Sumser

Candidate Experience on HR ExaminerCandidate Experience Requirements

The basic idea is that any person who visits an employment website should be treated with respect, as a minimum, and delighted, as an objective. The basic steps in that process are:

  1. acknowledging receipt of an application,
  2. avoiding postings that say little or insult the intelligence,
  3. eliminating out of date postings,
  4. monitoring an application against open opportunities,
  5. staying in touch with relevant information,
  6. letting the candidate know when their application is going to be flushed from the system,
  7. having a privacy policy,
  8. providing material that is interesting to candidates,
  9. eliminating unnecessary ‘clicks’,
  10. making sure the website runs quickly,
  11. offering suggestions to those who most likely are never going to be working for you,
  12. describing the hiring process (how long, what’s involved),
  13. illuminating the culture with profiles of successful members of the workforce,
  14. addressing known PR problems (Here at Enron, we have a renewed emphasis on ethics),
  15. having a clear and compelling message,
  16. eliminating things that waste a candidate’s time,
  17. providing ways for candidates to build their networks,
  18. and so on.
If this list seems familiar, it might be because it’s a seven year old piece.
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  • John,

    Great start!  I’d like to add a few more:

    – Describe the application process up front.  How long will it take, cover letter (yes or no), what is best format for resume.  No really, I get you can accept PDF but does it really work with your system?  How about formatting in a word document?  
    – Include an estimated end date for applications.  This will eliminate the rush to apply because “the posting may be gone tomorrow.”  This allows candidates to reduce many of the errors recruiters complain about.
    – If recruiters are on social…be social.  Don’t just use Twitter and Facebook as a job board.  If 70% of positions are filled via networking then use social to expand your company’s network!
    – BE HONEST!  Social media connects your candidates…they are comparing notes!  If you lie to them the word will spread and you will hurt your brand, as an employer and in the eyes of consumers too.


  • Hi John,
    Good piece. It’s interesting to look at how people define the candidate experience from both the candidate’s and the organisation’s perspective. The candidate experience should be from the first touch the candidate (or even prospective candidate has) to their experience throughout the recruitment process. The user experience as an applicant applying is very important, but also the way they are treated and communicated with until the final outcome is reached – and even beyond as some talent communities are demonstrating. An organisation should also be looking at how the experience they deliver is appropriate to their values and behaviours also.


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  • Chris

    It is very interesting that issues that existed 7 years ago are just as prevalent now.  One would think that given the $$ companies spend to build their brands, perhaps one of the least expensive ways to do so would be to focus on the candidate experience during the recruitment process. 

  • The career site and candidate experience.

  • Hey John,

    Talent Architect Pat Sharp wrote a response to this for business in “Career Page EEEsentials”

    It begins:

    “John Sumser “published” an HRxaminer article, Star Candidate Experience in 17 steps on Jan 25.

    I clicked to read it right away – intrigued – for candidate experience is not usually the focus of articles on recruiting strategy. The article was as you would expect from one of the oldest and most respected voices in Internet recruiting, John Sumser. But, 17 steps is a lot to remember. In fact, the 18th step of the article reads, “and so on.” Then John wrote, “If this list seems familiar, it might be because it’s a seven year old piece,” which links back to a post published in July 2006.

    Can’t we be more direct? Can’t we make it simpler? Can’t we make it EEEasier?

    The three Es to create a great candidate experience on a careers page are: easy navigation, engage the visitor, and educate….” 

    Read the Tangible “Career Page EEEsentials” at

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