5 Ways to Optimize Candidate UX, a Chronically Overlooked Aspect of Recruiting

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When it comes to designing the recruiting process, employers tend to focus mostly on their own needs, less so on the candidate’s. While the hiring process must help a company attract top talent, a truly great recruitment process is one that also works for the candidate.

For a recruiting process to really deliver powerful results, the candidate’s user experience (UX) must be optimized. If you’re ready to build a hiring process that takes both the recruiter and the applicant into account, here are a few key steps to follow:

1. Take Appropriate Cybersecurity Precautions

If your company website isn’t secure, candidates won’t want to share their private data with you. Without that data, your recruitment process won’t go anywhere.

Here are a few common, highly effective strategies for bulking up your cybersecurity:

Implement a multifactor authentication tool for online applications and candidate portals. Using this extra security measure, a user will enter their username and password as well as a passcode sent to their mobile phone or email address. This helps ensure that users are who they say they are.

• Invest in SSL certificate authentication. An SSL certificate verifies the website’s identity and makes any transmitted data unreadable by hackers. An SSL certificate is indicated in a website’s URL as “https” rather than “http.”

• Limit access to candidate portals to only applicants and your recruitment team.

• Encrypt applicants’ credentials. Encryption makes private data unreadable by unauthorized users.

After taking the appropriate safety precautions, be sure to regularly update all your software, regardless of whether or not it’s a security tool. As new security issues arise, developers will update their software to combat those issues. As long as you stay current with software updates, you should be protected from many hacking attempts.

2. Shorten the Application Process

The more steps candidates have to take to apply for your jobs, the less likely they will be to complete your application process. Speeding up the hiring process should be a key focus of your recruitment UX.

Try the following:

• Limit the number of fields on your application. For instance, don’t ask candidates to re-enter information that is on their resume.

• Write a clear job description. When users know exactly what they’re applying for, they can better assess whether or not they’ll be a good fit. That means candidates won’t spend time on jobs they aren’t qualified for.

• Automate your communications. Let an automated solution send rejection letters to unqualified candidates. That way, you can get back to candidates quickly while freeing up your recruiters to focus on high-value matters.

• Limit the number of interviews. Gather as much insightful data as possible in the prescreening phase. This will allow you to spend less time interviewing each candidate while moving applicants through the process quickly.

For more expert recruiting insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. Write Clear, Direct Copy for All Recruiting Communications

From rejection emails to interview requests to offer letters, the wording you use in your communications can define a user’s experience. For example, when writing a job ad, consider the following:

Adopt a professional but relatable tone. Avoid jargon and other potentially confusing language. Speak in a clear, direct manner.

•  Anticipate candidates’ questions and answer them before they even have to ask. Think about what the reader will want to know — such as responsibilities and required experience — and make sure that information is contained in your job ad. This way, you won’t be slowed down by constant requests for clarification.

•  Keep the ad short. Most candidates will skim the copy, so cut unnecessary details and stick to the important stuff.

•  Create clear calls to action. That way, candidates will always know exactly what the next step is. In terms of a job ad, this might mean including a clearly labelled “Apply Now” button.

While these tips deal specifically with job ads, the general underlying principles can be used to engineer better recruitment communications of any kind.

4. Brand and Optimize Each Element of the Process

You likely use the same design elements throughout your company website so users don’t think they’ve been rerouted to a different site when they visit a new page. Your recruitment collateral should be no different. Across all recruitment communications, be sure to include your company logo, company colors, and relevant graphics and videos.

Once you’ve ensured your process is adequately branded, it’s time to focus on optimization. Decrease load times by compressing images, and create a fluid, functional layout for recruitment sites and portals. Use responsive web design to ensure your application displays properly across all devices.

The design of your application is just as important as the design of your website. Few things can be as detrimental to candidate UX as moving from an optimized, appealing site to a clunky, cluttered application form. Always make sure your content flows from page to page.

Web developers sometimes feel they have to sacrifice security for speed, but passwordless logins can bring together the best of both worlds. In a passwordless login system, users skip traditional login credentials and instead tap a button that creates an automated email containing an encrypted key code. Users will be able to return to the application process at any point, and they won’t have to go through the cumbersome process of coming up with sufficiently secure login credentials — nor will they have to reset their password every time they forget it.

5. Gather and Act on Recruitment Data

By tracking the right data, you can gain valuable insights into your candidate UX. You can then identify what’s working and refine the parts that need improvement.

Install tools to gather website analytics, such as daily number of visitors, page traffic, and other relevant metrics. This quantitative data can help you determine what catches candidates’ interest and the points at which they abandon the process.

You may also want to gather candidates’ feedback directly by sending out opinion surveys. Be sure to give them a chance to share their ideas on how you can improve. Then, use this data to tweak your application, outreach, and so on.

Once you compile the data, you need to take action on it. Otherwise, it’ll go to waste. For instance, if you notice a lot of traffic is going to your job posting but no one is clicking on the “Apply Now” button, you know you have a problem. Put yourself in the average candidate’s shoes and think about why they might not be clicking the button. Maybe there’s too much text, or maybe the job description doesn’t grab their attention.

If you can’t seem to pinpoint the issue on your own, ask for your coworkers’ opinions. You might also consider asking candidates about the specific issue in your survey; they may know something you don’t.

While the recruiting process is meant to help companies identify and attract top-tier talent, organizations cannot afford to ignore the candidate’s UX. No matter how streamlined your process is for company purposes, if candidates don’t enjoy it, you won’t find the talent you need. It’s as simple as that.

John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, where he leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Swoop.

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John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf's investment in Swoop, an authentication service that eliminates the need for passwords on websites and apps. Swoop launched in late 2018 and helps software providers upgrade their single- or multifactor login experience and shed obsolete passwords.