What is the Candidate Journey?
The candidate journey describes the various steps that candidates go through during their application process and is based on the customer journey in marketing. The applicants come into contact with your employer brand through various touchpoints.
The exact touchpoints of the candidate journey can vary from one company to another. In general, it consists of the following steps:
- Attraction: The candidate becomes aware of your company through a Google ad, for example.
- Information: The candidate then learns more about your company (e.g., on the career website or rating platforms)
- Application: The candidate applies to your organization.
- Selection: The candidate takes part in the application process (e.g. interview) and is selected.
- Onboarding: The new employee is onboarded onto your company.
- Retention: The new employee works at your company1
The individual stages can be presented in the form of a recruiting funnel.
The goal of an ideal candidate journey is, of course, to attract the best talent for your company. Throughout the candidate journey, applicants will pass job ads, visit your career page, submit an online application, may be invited to an interview and in the best case they will receive a job offer and become part of the team. These are all touchpoints on your company’s candidate journey.2
Even if candidates drop out of the application process prematurely, they should have a positive experience of their personal candidate journey. In times of rating platforms and strong networking, word gets around quickly when applicants have bad experiences with potential employers, which damages the employer brand.
Why a good candidate journey is more important than ever
According to a Haufe recruiting study, 77% of the recruiters surveyed have difficulties finding suitable candidates3. Since it is already difficult to attract suitable talent for the company, it is particularly important to create a positive candidate experience. The employer image is on the line when it comes to a candidate journey because how a company treats applicants is often seen as an indicator of how employees are treated.
In addition, candidates have the opportunity to leave reviews on platforms such as kununu and Co., which in turn give new applicants a first impression of your company. If talented people come across negative reviews and bad experiences, that is often enough to prevent them from submitting an application.
- Offer Acceptance Rate: This key metric gives you information about the percentage of candidates who have accepted a job offer. Depending on the position, you should aim for an offer acceptance rate of 90 percent or higher. If applicants reject your offer after they have gone through the entire application process, that is a lot of wasted resources. If the offer acceptance rate is low, you should pay particular attention during the candidate journey to ensure alignment between the expectations of the candidates and the company.
- Turnover Rate: The turnover rate can also give you information about how well mutual expectations were communicated during the application process. Pay particular attention to the turnover rate in the first few months after starting the job.
- Satisfaction: Applicant feedback can be very helpful in improving the candidate journey. However, according to the Haufe Recruiting Study 2022, only 27% of HR managers obtain feedback from candidates.3
Other helpful key figures are, for example, the drop-out rate in the application process, the time from application to hiring or the number of employee recommendations. Employees who experience a positive candidate journey are more likely to recommend their employers.
Common mistakes made by companies in the application process
While each company’s candidate journey is unique, there are mistakes that are common and negatively impact any candidate experience:
- Communication gaps in the application process
The application has been sent, now what? Many companies make the mistake of leaving candidates in the dark about how to proceed in the application process. A good candidate journey is characterized by applicants knowing the status of their application at all times. This starts with an automatic email to confirm the application’s receival, as well as feedback after in the case of a rejection.
- Lack of transparency
Transparency goes hand in hand with ongoing communication. This error occurs particularly in the case of positions that are difficult to fill. It’s not just about finding the right candidate, but also finding out what the applicants expect from the company. By communicating transparently, you can reduce the risk of early turnover and dissatisfaction among new employees.
- Long, complicated application processes
In order to be able to attract top talent for your company, every step in the application process should be well thought out and offer real added value in the selection process. A long, complicated process quickly creates frustration and makes offers from other organizations more attractive for applicants.4
- Incorrect usage or lack of technologies
Anyone who fails to use the right tools for personalized and automated communication with candidates is missing out on great potential. With the help of the right recruiting tools, you can reach applicants at the most important touchpoints with relevant information, from the initial contact to onboarding.
The Consequences of a Bad Candidate Journey
A bad candidate journey impacts your employer brand. Negative experiences in the application processes get around quickly and are immortalized on evaluation platforms. According to an article by Deloitte on candidate experience, 80% of applicants tell others about their bad experiences during the application process.5
This can affect the future talent pool. If less qualified candidates apply, the recruiting team will need to spend more time and resources to fill vacancies with suitable candidates. Top talents refrain from applying, which in turn can affect the performance and strength of a company.
It is therefore worth investing in a good candidate journey. We have gathered some tips for you on how to do this:
Tips to improve the candidate journey
Tip 1: Personalized communication
McKinsey’s “Next in Personalization 2021 Report” shows that personalization is almost a prerequisite for effectively reaching customers.6 In the current job market, this concept can be similarly applied to applicants. The personal approach and tailored communication content attracts the attention of potential candidates and piques their interest in you as an employer.
Tip 2: Automated candidate journey
With the help of an automated candidate journey, communication gaps can be closed. With Programmatic AdTech, for example, you can reach the right talent at the right time. If the application process is already in process, email communication in particular allows the use of automation. For example, send automatic appointment confirmations or information on how to proceed after a round of interviews.
Tip 3: Transparency and honesty
A lack of transparency is one of the biggest mistakes in the candidate journey, especially when a role needs to be filled as quickly as possible. If the expectations of the company and the applicants are not communicated transparently from the outset, the risk of early turnover is high. This causes enormous costs for the company. Therefore, make sure to not only check whether an applicant meets the requirements for a position, but also to check the ideas and wishes of the candidates.
Tip 4: Make onboarding part of your candidate journey
The candidate journey does not end with the job offer: it also includes onboarding. As already mentioned, employees are able to rate your company online as an employer. A poor candidate journey, including a poorly-planned onboarding process, can have many repercussions.
It pays to invest time and resources to ensure a positive candidate journey. Automated and personalized communication, combined with a transparent approach throughout the process can reduce the risk of a negative candidate experience. This helps the employer brand, increases the satisfaction of existing employees and attracts new talent.
1 Verhoeven. (2015). Die Candidate Journey und Touchpoints. In Candidate Experience (pp. 33–43). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. https:\/\/firstbird.com//doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-08896-5_5
2 Hausmann, & Braun, O. (2021). Bewerbermanagement und Candidate Journey. In Recruiting in Kulturbetrieben – Leitfaden Für Die Erfolgreiche Personalgewinnung (pp. 43–47). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH. https:\/\/firstbird.com//doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-35419-0_4
3 Haufe Online Redaktion (2022). Mit einer attraktiven Candidate Journey zu mehr und besseren Bewerbungen. Haufe. https://www.umantis.com/bewerbermanagement/candidate-journey?akttyp=organische%20suche&med=google&aktnr=84834&wnr=04393672
4 Goodspace: 5 Common Mistakes That Hurt Candidate Experience. Goodspace.
5 Deloitte (2017). Your candidate experience, Creating an impact or burning cash? Deloitte. von https:\/\/firstbird.com//www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/candidate-experience-creating-an-impact.html
6 Arora, N., Enssler, D., Fiedler, L., Liu, W. W., Robinson, K., Stein, E., Schüler, G. (2021). The value of getting personalization right—or wrong—is multiplying. McKinsey. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-value-of-getting-personalization-right-or-wrong-is-multiplying