Employer Branding Starts with Candidate Experience

Why it’s important to treat candidates like more than parts in your recruiting machine

Tech startups are competing for the same engineering talent that the big names are but have yet to gain household-name status and the candidate appeal that goes with it. However, there are a number of ways startups can often outperform more established companies, and one important way is by offering excellent candidate experience.

Most job seekers have had bad experiences with the companies they are recruited by, and most of them share that bad experience with others. Check out the comments on this tweet for a taste of the way many developers feel about the companies they interview with! A simple application of common sense, good manners, and follow-through can help you hire the people you need, as well as ensure you will never give any job-seeker a reason to talk smack about you online.

No recruitment spam

A good candidate experience starts at the beginning. Do a targeted search for talent that actually has the qualities and skills you are looking for, rather than a quick key-word search followed by a blanket email or InMail campaign without further review. This means looking at profiles, checking out activity on github, Stack Overflow, Kaggle, etc.

Get personal

When you send your message, it makes a big difference if you personalize it to the candidate, even if only in some small way. Call out a couple of skills or experiences that pertain to the position. But it doesn’t have to be about their technical qualifications: Did you go to the same school? Do they have a personal project that you think is cool? Mention it. Every developer gets recruitment spam, so this will let them know you took a few moments to actually familiarize yourself with them.

Follow up, follow up, follow up

I’m not just talking about being persistent and reaching out more than once (although you should do that too). Make sure you follow up with every candidate who replies to you. At each step of the process, from phone screen through on-site interview, be sure to 1) set clear expectations about follow up and 2) meet them! Candidates invest untold amounts of time and psychic energy in the interviewing process and it’s basic good manners not to leave them hanging. If they have submitted code samples, done phone interviews with hiring managers, or come for on-site interviews, that follow-up really should be a phone call rather than an email - from the hiring manager!

Move things along

It’s a given that as a hiring manager, you will always be too busy, but the hiring process has to be prioritized. The sooner you get the right person onboard, the sooner they can take some things off of your plate. Don’t wing it; have a plan for how screening and interviewing will proceed and stick to it. Talent -- particularly good talent -- does have a shelf life. If you take a week to schedule a phone interview, then it takes another week to set up a second interview, and a week after that for an on-site interview to be set up . . . someone else will hire that engineer away from you, especially if they get the impression from the timeline that you are not terribly enthused about them.

Let us help!

In the startup world everyone has too many plates spinning, all of them fully loaded. HireLabs has a long track record of jump-starting tech startups’ recruitment efforts while providing great candidate experience. Set yourself apart and contact us today.

Post by Lisa Offutt