How to Improve the Candidate Experience

Clearly communicate not just the total compensation package on the table, but also the growth opportunities and remarkable culture at your organization.

Danielle Riha
March 3, 2023

The biggest challenge in hiring blue-collar workers right now is meeting their pay expectations. As consumers, we’re all feeling the effects of inflation in our daily lives. So it’s not surprising that the workforce is collectively asking for more money at work to help make ends meet.

But business owners are feeling similar effects in their supply chain, leaving little (if any) room for wage growth.

The solution then—if you can’t raise wages, or already have gone as high as you can—is to provide candidates with an exceptional experience during the hiring phase. This means clearly communicating not just the total compensation package on the table, but also the growth opportunities and remarkable culture at your organization.

Author, consultant and entrepreneur Ruth King summarized it best when she told us that employers need to “Have a great company culture where people want to work.” To do that, she says leaders need to be clear on job expectations, key performance indicators, and communicate frequently.

Keep reading for more advice from our partners and their clients on what you can do to improve the candidate experience.

1. Speed & Frequent Communication

Find ways to speed up the interviewing process without making the candidate feel like a number. Team Engine is great in this respect, as they help narrow down the candidates before the company does any interviewing, so time can be dedicated to those crucial interviews, rather than feeling rushed to get through dozens.

— Nicole Henry, CompanyCam

Treat the interview, the interviewee, the job, and the offer like it’s important and a big deal. If a potential employee can feel excitement in the interview, that increases the chances of them choosing you. Also, do better in rejecting candidates. Rejection is part of life, yes, but someone who has spent hours applying, taking assessments, and being interviewed deserves an email or phone call letting them know they haven’t been chosen.

— Levi Jett, Jett Facility Consultants

Employers must obsess about who owns the recruiting experience end to end on their team, what the touch-points will be, and how to measure that it is occurring to their standards. Additionally, they must consider what channel of communication they will use based on their ideal candidates’ preference, whether that’s email, voice, text, social media, or something else.

— Cullen Talley, Exit Momentum

Employers can improve the candidate experience by providing timely feedback and updates. This means letting candidates know whether they have been selected for the job as soon as possible and providing constructive feedback to those who are not selected. By keeping candidates informed and involved, employers can help to make the recruitment process more positive and engaging.

— Scott & Kati Molchan, Million Dollar Landscaper

Timely feedback and communication is the easiest way for employers to differentiate themselves from their competition. Even if you're passing on a candidate, if you provide timely feedback, it is more likely they will refer you to a more qualified candidate within their sphere of influence while it maintains the reputation of the hiring employer in a positive light.

— Tito Caceres, Bloom Partners Talent Solutions

2. Alignment on Goals & Expectations

Genuinely care about candidates’ personal, professional, and financial goals. Figure out what their aspirations are, and then find a way to help them achieve those dreams while mutually benefitting the company at the same time.

— Eric Thomas, Rival Digital

Transparency! Transparency! Transparency! Do not over promise to candidates or employees. This includes items such as compensation, hours, career path, and communication timelines. Employers may have to adjust expectations in each of these categories to properly match market expectations, but in any communication with current or potential team members the motto should be "Under promise and over deliver".

— Ben Molenda, Best Human Capital & Advisory Group

Know your big picture mission, vision and purpose. Share it with your employees and find ways to get them to engage it by learning about their personal mission, vision and purpose. Help them see where your mission can help their mission and vice versa. It's not an HR recipe, process or magical wordsmithing. It's asking authentic questions that demonstrate you truly care and are interested in your employees. You can't fake it because they will know. People can sense and smell insincerity. Be ready to help them advance their skills and careers with coaching and education, whether or not they ultimately stay with your organization. They will love you for it. When they rave about how great you are, you'll have more good people chasing you down than you know what to do with.

— Chris Orecchio, Buji ActionCOACH

Provide a compelling argument of why someone should apply to join your company. What is your purpose as a company? What are your values? What is it like to work there? The answer to these questions should come before the job description itself. Provide a very simple way to apply, and give candidates timely feedback on the next step. Frequent and clear communication and updates during each step of the recruiting process is essential for a positive candidate experience.

— Bahaa Moukadam, SeeMetrics Partners

Provide what the company stands for and how the company operates (purpose / vision / mission / core values) as a foundation. Then lay out the career path in a clear way with associated training programs so the candidate knows what to expect and how to accelerate advancement.

— Loren McIrvin, Allied Landscape

One of the most important things employers can do is to be transparent and communicative throughout the recruitment process. This means providing clear information about the job requirements and duties, as well as setting realistic expectations about the timeline for interviews and decisions. By being upfront and honest, employers can help to avoid misunderstandings and reduce stress for candidates.

— Scott & Kati Molchan, Million Dollar Landscaper

Spend time talking about what the employee is looking for in a job. Do they want a short-term fix, or are they looking for a career? How long do they want to do the job they are being hired for—five years, or are they hoping to conquer that role and move into something else much quicker? The question I ask is, "What do you want, and how do you see our company as the vehicle to help you get it?"

— Derrik Shakespear,

Showcase a path for growth as early as possible while engaging with top talent. Showcase how others have grown with the company and what opportunities someone can gain from taking on a new opportunity. Top talent is always looking to grow and it doesn't always mean it has to be money or titles. Get creative and show candidates that your company is looking to help people grow in different ways.

— Tito Caceres, Bloom Partners Talent Solutions

Remember that job applicants are on a journey. Make it a great one! Provide them with compelling and useful content from the time they hit your website, through the application process, and onward. Help them clearly see a better future for themselves.

— Chad Diller, Landscape Leadership

3. Remarkable Culture

A positive candidate experience is all about culture and understanding what the workforce needs. The current and future generations will demand more than just good pay. They want work/life balance, to be challenged at work, mentorship and opportunity. Respect for all employees will be critical along with a true commitment to diversity. A sustainability focus will also be fundamental for the next generation.

— Heidi J. Ellsworth, RoofersCoffeeShop

The candidates’ experience starts and ends with the culture of a company. You cannot host a breakfast once a month and claim to offer work/life balance with an "awesome culture.” You have to put your money where your mouth is. You need to change the direction of the swing of the pendulum.
You also need to put employees and their families first. Is it a true emergency? Does your technician really have to go out to unclog a toilet at 11 am on Christmas morning if the home has three other working toilets? Do they need AC on Easter Sunday when it's 67 degrees outside? Choosing your technicians over being "Available 24/7" speaks volumes. It's not just about finding new talent to fill your roster; it's also about keeping the ones you have.

— Nancy O'Hare-Zika, Yellow Dog Creative

Make the onboarding process seamless. Be prepared and have a checklist for them to follow, along with a training process. Show them you are a mature business with clear expectations. Remember, it's your new employee’s work birthday! Celebrate their arrival, introduce them to everyone, and eat lunch with them. Don't sit them in a dark corner to fill out forms all day! It's not over the top to have a special detail like a welcome note or balloon bouquet waiting for them. Just imagine how great they will feel. Some employers go as far as sending a bottle of wine or other small token to the spouse or significant other as a thank you too.

— Linda Ratner, Ratner Consulting

4. Be Current & Relevant

Say no to faxes! Seriously, I saw two landscape company websites—for multimillion dollar landscapers—in 2022 that requested applicants FAX their resume. How many of your employees have a fax machine? Make it easy to apply online for your open positions from a mobile device.

— Jack Jostes, Ramblin Jackson

Employers need to remember that times have changed. We can no longer think about hiring the way we did a few years back. Gone are the days when a job ad in the classifieds section of the newspaper was enough to attract a pool of qualified candidates. In today's fast-paced and technology-driven world, employers need to be proactive and innovative in their hiring strategies. We need to take advantage of software and services that can streamline the process and provide a better overall experience.

— Scott & Kati Molchan, Million Dollar Landscaper

For more in this series, check out:

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