Mapping the Perfect Candidate Journey - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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Experience mapping, candidate experience journey, candidate journey map, candidate journey, candidate experience

Mapping the Perfect Candidate Journey

Recruiting top talent becomes increasingly difficult thanks to evaporating borders and ever-increasing efforts by a given company’s competitors to score hiring coups. Customer journey mapping is a well-known process that grows increasingly more important for online marketing efforts in today’s digital marketplace. Recruiting job candidates, which has become more challenging in recent years, can also benefit by mapping the candidate experience.

How does your company appear at each stage of the candidate journey? Do your current employees speak well of the company, or do they provide negative reviews? Do employees recommend your company as a good place to work to their friends and peers? What is the typical employee experience? What conclusions do job candidates make after researching your company and going through the hiring process? You won’t know conclusively unless you make an effort to map both the employee experience and the candidate experience.

How People Make Decisions Today

People make decisions today based on their personality traits, cognitive biases, impulses and other factors. In an ideal world, logic would dictate how each person makes decisions based on personal self-interest benefits, career advancement, financial considerations and other consequences. Unfortunately, people often rely on gut instincts based on beliefs, judgments, peer pressures and rose-coloured expectations. Professor Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University revolutionised how people understand the mind and make important decisions, and he won a Nobel Prize in the process. According to Kahneman and his colleague, Amos Tversky, the following facts apply to the decision-making process:

  • People make decisions in two ways: Some are based on logic while others come from internal biases and gut instincts.
  • Thousands of decisions are made each day intuitively.
  • All decisions are riddled with mistaken assumptions, which psychologists call cognitive biases.
  • The mind often invents logical justifications for biased decisions.

The job candidate journey often involves decisions based on cognitive biases, so it’s critical to map the employee experience in the same way that marketers map the customer journey. Understanding your candidate experience and the touchpoints along the way helps companies to create more appealing recruitment efforts that attract the most talented candidates.

The Power of Defining Your Brand

Branding is a critical element in creating an attractive candidate experience. Statistics show that branding is a top priority of 56 percent of recruiters, and about 75 percent of job candidates research a company’s brand before applying for employment. Candidates research companies through social media channels 62 percent of the time, so your candidate journey must include social touchpoints. Your company’s online and industry reputations and its hiring process (the simpler for candidates, the better) are also critical issues.

What Is Experience Mapping?

Experience mapping is the process of analysing complex interactions between people and companies. Mapping the customer journey is a major marketing trend for all types of businesses that sell products online. Experience mapping is also known as experience management, service design and user experience design, but these terms essentially refer to the strategic process of mapping online journeys across multiple channels. These terms can apply to customers, stakeholders and buying committees, but they also apply to employees and job candidates.

A job candidate might deal with a company in dozens of online communications and research efforts before agreeing to come on board as an employee or consultant. There might be social media research, informal contacts, visits to the company website and efforts to investigate the company through rating services, industry comments, professional journals and comments posted by former workers about the employee experience. The company’s products, supply chain, core concept and other details might also be investigated.

After deciding to apply, job candidates could go through an application process, onboarding, job training and other interactions with the company. Each of these steps, or touchpoints, in the candidate journey can generate positive or negative experiences, which is why experience mapping is so important for strategic recruiting.

Understanding the Lens of the Candidate, Customer and Employee

It’s important to understand that every recruiting or marketing effort has a different lens through which things are viewed. The customer journey has certain best practices to create a great user experience, and candidates also have a preferred way of interacting with a company. If those efforts aren’t met, candidates will look elsewhere for employment. The best practices for recruiting mirror those of managing employees effectively. You want to give candidates an accurate picture of how employees are treated, so it’s important to treat job candidates as well as you treat customers and valued employees. That’s why employee experience is critical.

The Customer Journey and Employee Experience

The customer journey is a good template for mapping the candidate experiences. At each stage of the process, try to create an appealing, easy-to-understand and compelling portrait of the company and its products and services. The employee experience can help to improve experience mapping. All the different kinds of experience mapping can affect the others, so developing a comprehensive experience mapping strategy is important.

The Benefits of Mapping the Candidate Experience

Mapping the candidate experience allows HR recruiting staff to identify the risks and opportunities of their recruiting efforts. The process invariably identifies areas where changes could be required to attract the best quality candidates. Other benefits of attractively defining the employee experience include:

  • Finding out what changes are needed internally to create a better employee experience to improve referrals
  • Improving the company’s industry and online reputations to foster a better customer experience
  • Jumpstarting the HR department’s success rate and reducing the costs of recruiting
  • Integrating the company’s efforts to create a seamless candidate experience that appeals to those who value organisation
  • Using technology to simplify the application process
  • Fostering employee and stakeholder engagement in the recruiting process
  • Identifying touchpoints, or places where companies and candidates interact, that could provide negative impressions
  • Finding out where increased efforts for employee screening are needed
  • Redesigning your recruitment strategy based on the candidate experience


The Elements of Mapping the Candidate Journey

There are a number of touch points along the typical candidate journey. Mapping the candidate experience from start to finish can help your company identify areas to dramatically improve recruiting efforts so that candidates don’t abandon the process due to misunderstandings, incomplete information or too complicated an application process. The common elements of mapping the candidate experience include:

1. Identifying the Lens of the Targeted Persona or Segment

The lens refers to the viewpoint of the candidate persona. You wouldn’t use the same criteria for recruiting maintenance staff as you would for finding candidates for senior administrative positions.

2. Focusing on Candidate Goals

It’s important not to focus on your company’s needs exclusively when recruiting. You should consider the job candidate’s goals in each step of the recruitment process. What does a candidate need to know at that particular moment? It might be salary information, what benefits the company offers or the company’s core mission statement.

3. Mapping the Touchpoints

Touchpoints are every point of contact in the candidate journey. Each point occurs at a specific time in a specific online platform. A touchpoint might be a visit to company’s website to get a feel for the company or completing an application after reading a job posting.

4. Defining the Most Critical Moments

The defining moments, of moments of truth, are the most critical touchpoints where important decisions are made. These moments include direct contact through an email, job application or interview. These moments can occur on the company’s Web pages or through third-party recruitment efforts such as reviews on Glassdoor and social media platforms.

Steps to Create a Candidate Journey Map

Successful mapping requires a collaborative effort that includes the ideas and input of multiple company stakeholders. It’s important to consult executives, managers, HR staff and the marketing department for their insights and suggestions. You can use online mapping tools or hire a professional consultant or facilitator to guide the process or tackle the job in-house by following these steps:

1. Choose Your Candidate
It’s important to determine exactly what kind of candidate you will be mapping. The more specific your description, the better your results will be.

2. Gather the Research and Stakeholder Suggestions
There is a wealth of information available through digital analytics, past hiring history, studies of the employee experience and collaborative suggestions from company stakeholders. Team managers are often overlooked, but their insights can be invaluable.

3. Identify the Person or Group for Each Experience Mapping Project
People are notoriously unique, so you can’t always define the characteristics you’re seeking. You can, however, develop an ideal persona for the job. Developing a full profile of the ideal candidate for the job will help you to target potential candidates more successfully.

4. Pinpoint the Stages of Your Candidate Journey
Job candidates go through different stages during the recruitment process, so it’s important to identify each of these stages to map the candidate journey. These stages include:

      • Finding out where applicants first connect with the company
      • Using social media to create an appealing company image
      • Reviewing the company’s reputation in third-party review sites
      • Planning recruitment strategy
      • Searching actively instead of gathering information passively
      • Sending interested candidates further information
      • Identifying workable candidates
      • Recruiting the top prospects
      • Pre-screening and telephone screening
      • Scheduling a face-to-face interview
      • Offering a candidate an employment contract


5. Learn About Your Ideal Candidate’s Career Goals
Each stage of the process has specific goals that candidates want. For example, at first contact, prospects might want to know that the company is reliable or that the pay is lucrative. As candidates progress, other goals arise. It’s important to understand what candidates need as each person goes through the candidate journey.

6. Identify Touchpoints
Find out where your company can connect with candidates at each particular touchpoint. How can you fulfil candidate needs at each stage? These might not involve concrete and logical needs but might depend on satisfying those less rational impulses that often guide decisions.

7. Develop Empathy for What a Candidate Does, Feels and Thinks
Empathy is important in understanding what each candidate experiences. You should strive to understand emotions and ingrained beliefs, what a candidate should do at each stage and how you can guide candidates to take favourable actions.

8. Use Your Data to Generate Candidate Experience Insights
Your data and analysis should help you and your colleagues to develop a big-picture profile of what the average candidate experiences. Negative issues can be addressed, and positive experiences can be emphasised and moved to positions of prominence.

9. Produce the Graphic Representation of the Map
Creating a graphic visualisation of the candidate journey is important because it can serve as an aid to memory and a physical representation of company’s recruitment efforts that can be shared with other company stakeholders. Don’t become too invested. All maps change over time and change rapidly.

Effective company branding, social media integration and candidate experience mapping can increase any company’s bottom line and help organisations attract and retain top talent. In today’s competitive marketplace, mapping the candidate journey is becoming more essential, and the technique is cost-effective, collaborative and sensible given today’s competitive recruitment initiatives.

onboarding new hires

Ari Kopoulos

CEO at EmployeeConnect