How to Create a Positive Candidate Experience with Onboarding

Posted in Talent & Onboarding

The 2020 CandE reports show that candidate experience is the number one focus for global talent acquisition teams in North America, EMEA, and APAC in 2021. Rightfully so, given best-in-class candidate experience ultimately translates to higher-quality hires.

What some may not realize is that recruiters are key to onboarding success, and onboarding doesn’t need to sit solely with HR.


Why you should invest in onboarding

Recruiters know how much the candidate experience matters. For example:

  • The 2020 CandE report found that both candidates and employees long for more empathetic communication than ever before.
  • 79% of candidates share a positive recruitment experience – and 47% a negative one. That’s a major employer brand consideration.
  • Candidate experience doesn’t only impact recruitment outcomes – it impacts business outcomes. As an example, Virgin Media lost $6M/year in sales revenue thanks to a poor candidate experience.

The fact is, a positive onboarding experience ladders up to the same benefits as a positive candidate experience: a more engaged, productive employee. Onboarding has a huge impact on the outcomes of success for companies and recruiters, too.


Onboarding is NOT just HR’s responsibility

Onboarding is a team effort and is much less powerful when it’s siloed in HR.

That’s especially true of hiring managers.

(For example, Gallup says when managers take an active role in onboarding, employees are 3.4x more likely to feel that onboarding was successful.)

But it’s also true of recruiters.

Successful candidates already have an established relationship with you, thanks to all your hard work so far. They’re engaged. They trust you. They almost certainly trust you more than any other person in the business, at this point.

That means recruiters are uniquely placed to guide new hires through this transition period. 

Recruiters provide continuity – you’re the thread that connects the candidate experience to the employee experience.

That’s a big deal. Kate Pavlina – HR Business Partner with Amazon – recently wrote a thesis about best practice onboarding and found cohesion of experience was one of the major success factors.

Upping recruitment’s involvement with onboarding isn’t the only component – but it could be a powerful lever.


Onboarding for recruiters: where to get involved

We often talk about the idea of an onboarding taskforce, with representatives from key groups across the business. Someone from talent acquisition should be involved, from strategy onwards.

At its best, a mature onboarding function isn’t dictated by HR. Rather, recruitment is involved as a major stakeholder, helping define where you can add most value. And ensuring you get the input you need from the C-Suite, HR and hiring managers to add that value.

The end-result is a collaborative, cross-functional onboarding team providing a cohesive, seamless experience. Because onboarding doesn’t start when a candidate accepts a job offer.

Onboarding starts from the moment a role is opened, because any candidate could become a successful hire. That means any moment during the candidate experience could really be the start of the employee experience.

In practice, that looks like:

  • Getting comprehensive hiring manager insight into the opportunity and team culture – so the successful candidate has had a consistent, coherent message from their first recruiter contact.
  • Debriefing HR and hiring managers fully on interviewing candidates – so the candidate/employee experience feels personal and empathetic. Small things like “so-and-so mentioned you’re about to get married!” let new hires know you care.
  • Helping new hires prepare for their first day, just like you’d help candidates prepare for an interview. Being there for any “silly” questions new hires’ mightn’t want to bother HR with. Welcoming them on their first day – not dropping off after the job offer.
  • Remaining a trusted point-of-contact for new hires, recognizing they might confide issues to you they mightn’t with anyone else in the business. Having a coffee after the first month is an easy action that could have a huge impact.

The candidate experience shouldn’t fade away but continue seamlessly throughout the employee experience. That’s when your investment into candidate experience pays back most – by delivering engaged, productive new hires who’ll deliver more value for the business.

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