Candidate Experience & Employer Branding: Are you trusting the right partner with your reputation?

Employer branding is integral to any business strategy and resonates beyond the HR department. Customers would go elsewhere if what they experienced differed negatively to what they expected from a company brand. The same applies to potential employees if they experience dissonance at any part of the process.

When engaging with a recruitment partner to help identify and recruit senior talent, that partner can either benefit or hinder an employer brand. A company may present itself as an employer of choice and preferred place to work and the chosen recruitment partner must reinforce this. Candidates must be treated respectfully and responsively. With the opportunities to network and give feedback in today’s digital world, any word-of-mouth negative experiences could be magnified and negatively impact an employer brand.

It is therefore of utmost important that employer brand is protected at every stage of the recruitment process. Well-run, well-managed candidate management is critical to ensure that all of the resource put in to building a strong employer brand does not become unraveled at any point.

A brief has to be detailed and realistic; making clear the stages that candidate will have to go through before a final decision will be made. It also needs to convey organizational culture and critical success factors. The brief should reflect an employer brand entirely to ensure that an optimal first impression is made. This is not something put together in haste with little background information or detail.

Extensive research must be carried out to select exactly the right candidates to approach. It has been reported that a negative impressions have been created by firms who approach candidates for no appropriate reason, or, in some cases, approach candidates who are not qualified for the role. In the eyes of a candidate, this makes the researcher appear as ill prepared which then impacts negatively on the perception of the employer. When carrying out research, the quality of a recruitment partners network can also be a huge advantage, however this isn’t just about numbers it is also about the time and effort that has been spent building trusted relationships.

The point at which contact is made with a candidate is vital for the candidate experience. A professional, compelling approach, which is to the point, can be the difference in persuading them to take a conversation further, or not. The expertise and knowledge of the search consultant is a critical success factor. For some candidates, they may not even be looking for a new role, so will need persuading. A deep understanding of organisational culture and values will ensure a search specialist can convey what makes the employer brand is so enviable. Without this level of understanding, once again, negative perceptions can arise. Openness and honesty about the role, the expectations and the process can all enhance an employer brand.

It is rare that a candidate is a 100% fit for a role. During any face-to–face interviews the bond between client and recruitment partner can facilitate a two-way process. A good search consultant can help guide, advise and even coach which areas to probe and how best to support a good fit. Expertise in the life sciences can also be a great advantage in supporting clients. Ensuring that a candidate only ever has a positive interview experience is crucial to continue to build confidence in the overall company brand and positive feelings towards the position. A poor experience can all too easily be shared and impact negatively long term.

Most importantly of all is exceptional communication and feedback at every stage. Senior people are busy. Delays can give unintentional signs of disinterest. There has to be clear, rapid and honest dialogue on an ongoing basis. Candidates must be provided with all of the relevant information that they need. It is also important that the human factor is kept in to the process to make the candidate feel valued. Communication can make or break the successful placement of the right senior hire and the perception that they have of the company.

Candidates will have already built their own perception of what they think of a potential employer before they have had any contact with them whatsoever. A positive employer brand must be maintained by any recruitment partner to ensure only good effects ripple through a talent pool and impact on both current and future recruitment. Choosing the right mouthpiece for your organisation is the first step in attracting and retaining the best senior talent there is.

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