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When was the last time you put yourself in your candidates’ shoes?

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When was the last time you put yourself in your candidates’ shoes?
Sam Wilson, The 24th of October, 2017

There is a famous advertising quote that anyone trying to sell anything would do well to keep in mind – “Customers buy for their reasons, not yours”.

Before we go any further, if as an employer looking to recruit, you think that you are not now in the advertising business – think again. When we are trying to convince a certain type of person to join our organisation, the differences between us and a company trying to sell a brand of clothing, a fizzy drink or a sports car are significantly fewer than the considerable similarities.

Now that we have accepted that we are essentially the Don Drapers of the recruitment world, what does the quote at the beginning of this piece mean to us?

Essentially, we know what our product (in our case our vacancy and the organisation) is and why we like it. However, far too many people stop there. I have no doubt that if you had the opportunity to sit down with each one of your prospective candidates and take some time to explain the ins and outs of the position and your organisation, a decent percentage of them would apply. This, however, is not the case. Your candidates are making their decisions on a variety of touch points – interactions that they are having with your advertising and application process. If these aren’t geared towards your candidate then it’s unlikely that they’ll apply.

The simple facts are; if it isn’t advertised on the platforms that they use, then your desired candidates are unlikely to find your job advert. If a candidate doesn’t connect with your job advert then they won’t apply. If it is difficult for a candidate to apply for your job, the likelihood is they won’t complete an application.

In a candidate driven market, the employer that understands the candidate best will most likely come out on top. So, the key question is – when was the last time you put yourself in your candidates’ shoes?

The first key aspect of this is understanding where your candidates are hanging out online, what websites do they visit? What social media platforms do they use most regularly? Once you understand these points better, your advertising budget can be used much more effectively.

Next, what are they looking for in a position? What benefits do they value most?

For example, did you know that the majority of prospective apprentices consider a qualification to be the most important thing to get out of an apprenticeship?

Also, a significant percentage of social workers consider training to be one of the major factors that attract them to an organisation. For a building surveyor, the range of projects they’ll be working on is most likely to convince them to a new opportunity.

Thinking about your audience and including the details that matter most to them can go a long way to helping you stand out from your competition.

Finally, when was the last time you tried applying for one of your vacancies? Do you know how easy it is to reach the end?

I can say with absolute confidence that the more difficult you make it to apply for your vacancy, the fewer candidates will make it to the end. A significant percentage of candidates prefer to apply through an online form (57%), it is therefore, obviously highly recommended that you implement an online form – if you haven’t already. If you have an online form already, have you tested it to ensure that every aspect works? If your form crashes halfway through a candidate completing without saving progress, do you think they’ll take the time to start again from the beginning?

So, if we change that first quote to ‘candidates apply for a job for their reasons, not yours’, how well do you cater to their reasons?

Put your candidate hat on. Think about your advert and seeing it for the first time. Think about hitting that ‘apply now’ button and how long it will then take until that application is complete. Consider how each step of the process is impacting the candidate’s perceptions of your organisation and their excitement around the position. If you can do this, you may well find that those all-important application numbers start increasing.

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