We’ve all heard the rhetoric; from résumé black holes to pre-screening nightmares, applying for work can be a discouraging process.

As the next step in your recruitment efforts, the candidate experience is often the difference between setting a candidate up for success and setting them up for disappointment.

Why the candidate experience matters

The candidate experience has significant influence over the way your employer brand is perceived by the talent pool.

Gen Y candidates are well-connected and better informed than any other generation. They know what a good candidate experience should be like and won’t hesitate to share their experience, positive or otherwise, with peers and social networks.

Top employers understand that regardless of outcome, Gen Y applicants want to be recognized and respected while engaging with an organization, and work hard to provide candidates with an overall experience rooted in customer-service.

However, there are a number of avoidable factors that can contribute to a negative candidate experience, including a lack of acknowledgement or follow-through to a generic (or non-existent) online presence. These practices are more common than you’d think, and often leave Gen Y applicants feeling discouraged, irritated and confused.

The impact these factors can have on your recruiting practice can be significant, too.  Candidates may assume that an impersonal and indifferent candidate experience equates to an impersonal and indifferent workplace.

Want to leave a lasting, positive impression on your candidates? Consider the following:

Curate an employer profile

When it comes to attracting top Gen Y talent, first impressions are key. A comprehensive employer profile on TalentEgg.ca is a great way to build brand recognition, recruit a pool of potential candidates and start the candidate experience off on the right foot.

A dynamic online presence can include an overview of workplace culture, employee success stories, interactive initiatives like TalentEgg Challenges and editorial/video content. Gen Y candidates want to interact with authentic employer brands: presenting yourself as an approachable organization allows for this to happen.

Smart communication

Gen Y is used to instantaneous interaction. As potential candidates, they want to be involved in the process and be kept informed from start to finish. Increasing the level of communication you have throughout the application process will not only help to boost brand reputation and trust, it can also increase the likelihood of a Gen Y candidate recommending other qualified applicants to your organization.

One way to ensure every candidate feels acknowledged is by sending out direct messages to applicants when applications are received. Doing so empowers the applicant and leaves them feeling engaged, not frustrated, after hitting send.

If you use an ATS, applicants to your organization may already receive an automated message – if this is the case, consider personalizing the standard email copy. Utilizing variable fields (so that the email includes an applicant’s first name, for example) or signing off the email directly (your name vs. “The Recruitment Team”) are small ways to help position your employer brand as approachable.

Become more transparent

Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to communicating next steps in the hiring process to your candidates.

Open, transparent communication demonstrates your investment in an applicant’s potential. Including information on what they can expect from you throughout the hiring process illustrates how eager you – and the organization – are to see them succeed. Creating an atmosphere of support and encouragement from the get-go helps to facilitate an effective candidate experience.

If possible, sending out pre-interview email packages can differentiate your organization in a positive way. Possible items to include? Video content depicting workplace culture, first name of interviewers or logistical details, like the best place to park or directions if arriving by public transit.

Ask for feedback

Gen Y is peer-oriented and welcome any opportunity to share their opinions and experiences with others.

By actively canvassing applicants for feedback (both those who obtained positions and those who didn’t) you’ll gain valuable insight that can help to establish recruiting benchmarks and targets for future implementation.

Including the link to an online survey with your final decision email is an efficient way to target applicants who were not offered a position, whereas including a short, anonymous survey in orientation packages can help you gain the perspective of new hires.

Discussion: How would you rate the overall candidate experience at your organization?