How To Build The Best Candidate Journey

To be honest, when I was a recruiter, I thought I had the candidate journey down pretty well. I hit feedback deadlines, invested time in tailoring applications and interview prep, and made myself available as an Agony Aunt (shouldn’t that be uncle?) to anyone I had in process.

All fine process management stuff.

But the candidate journey starts way before applicants appear on your radar. And beyond that, there’s still work to be done to disprove generalisations that lead to Google searches like this:


Either it’s all true. in which case we’ve got a serious problem. Or a few gits are peeing in the pool the rest of us are in. In which case we need to disprove it.

‘The candidate journey’ is a term that represents two things:

1. The quality of service you provide to applicants

2. The physical steps in a recruitment process

So here’s how to create a workflow that delivers an utterly sparkling candidate journey, from building awareness in passive candidates right the way through to doing deals.

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We’ve mentioned Beamery before in our Productivity Hacks series on top rec tech. They know recruitment marketing and draw parallels to the way smartphones are sold:

“Let’s say you buy a shiny new iPhone – do Samsung stop marketing to you?”

The point being, turning heads when the funnel’s at it’s widest is just as vital to future business as making placements at the end of the day.

Beamery advocate using email for candidate nurturing campaigns although you can achieve the same outcome with WhatsApp, phone calls or messaging on LinkedIn. Here’s one way they see it coming together:

beamery nurture campaign flow

Map your processes

Processes differ from agency to agency but an example of an end to end candidate journey might look like this:

1. Identify target audience

2. Marketing

3. Qualification

4. Welcome

5. Regular contact

6. Advertising

7. CV submission

8. Initial screening

9. Client screening

10. Interview(s) and feedback

11. Final interview

12. Offer

13. Placement

14. Post-placement

15. After care

Most Recruiters, myself included, hedge the bulk of our bets on delivering steps 7 to 14. As a result, the service from CV sent to start date is usually pretty good.

I suspect most searches for “recruiters are unconscionable bastards” occur outside of those steps, however.

Mapping your processes might sound like overkill, but it’s what anyone doing business with you should want to know. And being able to display it will show you’ve got a more robust plan than your competitors.

Audit, audit, audit

A candidate journey’s only as effective as it’s judged to be by the candidates themselves. So audit your processes early on. And at every step of the way, if you can.

Google Forms is a free tool for generating anonymous feedback. Ask candidates how they’ve experienced your service and make changes in real time, as opposed to fixing issues retroactively.

Feedback should be glowing from recent placements. But take the disgruntled ones out for dinner and have a bit of a dig and you’ll turf up areas to improve. If the same thing’s coming up, like delays in giving feedback or the amount of hand-holding required in the run up to an offer, make a note of it.


Optimise touchpoints

We’ve written extensively about building your brand in recruitment. Doing so means tinkering with a number of potential touchpoints. Social media presence, marketing copy and follow up contact are a few of the more common areas.

Look at each stage of the candidate journey as a yes / no decision. While this is often a decision that multiple parties are involved in, the most beneficial question you can ask yourself is:

What can I do to make decisions easier?

Take early-doors marketing as an example. You’re likely not asking for a decision to be made about your brand at this stage. That shouldn’t detract from the fact that one’s being made.

Look at your careers page. The company Facebook profile and Instagram account. The job boards you’re on. Glassdoor. Google Reviews. Your market may well have seen all of these and not been blown away.

Applying a layer of scrutiny to every stage of the recruitment process opens doors to improving your overall service.

Structure communications

The main complaints levelled at bad Recruiters is that they’re misleading and / or inconsistent communicators.

What you communicate at every stage of the candidate journey should be appropriate to their point in it. It’s self-explanatory but general company information will do for the top of the funnel and more bespoke content goes later on.

As an example, collating your top interview tips in an article on the company blog gives you something valuable to reach out with at a latter point in the process. Building simple actions into your workflow ensures things get done and candidates get a bit extra from you.

Be mindful of timing. Scheduling your approach at optimal times (first thing, lunchtime and early evening) has a knock-on effect for response rates and ultimately the success of your candidate journey overall.


Ongoing monitoring

So you’ve mapped your process, improved it and scheduled communication that delivers a sterling service to candidates.

You might want bespoke approaches for cold leads and warm ones, different markets or levels of seniority. This can be problematic if you’ve got dozens of demographics to cover so start simple and build out from there if need be.

Hopefully you’ve got a constant stream of feedback from your candidates. On top of this, it’s worth tracking candidate-centric metrics. And revisiting your processes if there’s additional steps you could take to improve it.

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Happy candidates give recommendations, commit to placements and sign exclusive terms when they become clients.

They refer their mates, which we all know is where “over half of all placements come from”. Most of all, happy candidates are living proof you’re good at what you do.

At a time when the internet’s democratised everyone’s voice, building your platform around providing a high-standard candidate journey is arguably one of the best things to be known for at the moment.

And as technology makes recruiters sharper and more efficient, this is one of the more distinct differentiators in an increasingly crowded market.