From the moment a job seeker comes across a job post to the day of their successful placement, they go through a prolonged journey with recruiters. 

This ‘journey’ consists of a series of interactions that can make or break your recruitment process. 

In this article, we’re diving into its various touchpoints and top strategies to map them so you can create an experience for candidates to remember. Read on.

What is the candidate journey?

What is the candidate journey

The candidate journey refers to the entire experience a job seeker goes through, from discovering a job opportunity to potentially accepting an offer in line with your hiring drive. 

It includes all the candidate-recruiter interactions, be it the application process, the interviews, the means of communication, or the onboarding procedure.

The importance of this journey lies in the impact on how a candidate perceives the recruitment process, the employer brand of the company, and the quality of candidates who are willing to sign up for the open position.

What are the touchpoints of the candidate journey?

The pre-application phase

Stage 1: Awareness

In this stage, the candidate becomes aware of the job opportunity. This can occur through various channels, such as job boards, social media, referrals, or company websites. 

Remember, a company’s employer brand is critical in creating awareness and attracting potential candidates.

Stage 2: Interest

Now, the applicant tends to develop an interest in learning more about the position and the company. This also includes whether a job-seeker finds your job opening relevant to their work profile.

Further, they may dig into the business, study the respective job descriptions, and seek information about its culture, values, and benefits.

Stage 3: Consideration

At this stage, the candidate starts to weigh the pros and cons of applying for the position. 

They may compare the opportunity with other available positions, assess the alignment with their career goals, and evaluate the potential for growth within the company. 

Engaging content about the company’s culture, values, and employee testimonials can be influential at this stage.

Stage 4: Preparation

This is the final stage of the application process, where the candidate prepares their application materials. 

They may tailor their resume and cover letter to match the job description, gather the necessary documents, and seek advice or feedback from mentors or peers. 

Providing clear guidelines and tips on what the company looks for in an application can be helpful at this stage.

The application phase

Stage 5: Application

This part of the process is majorly about filling out application forms, submitting a resume and/or cover letter, and providing the required documentation. 

To ensure optimum convenience for candidates, you must adopt a user-friendly application process with clear instructions and minimal formalities to improve the candidate experience

Stage 6: Assessment

In this stage, recruiters make their grand entry into the candidate journey.  

This is an extensive step wherein you thoroughly review the application received and evaluate if the applicant’s profile aligns with the desired candidate persona. 

It involves multiple rounds of interviews, skills tests, and other assessments to hand-pick the most suitable candidate for the role. 

While assessing, recruiters are expected to communicate expectations head-on, followed up by a fair, transparent, and efficient screening process.

Stage 7: Selection

After a detailed examination has been conducted on all the candidates in the pipeline, the best one is picked for the role.

Recruiters finalize this decision based on factors like skills, experience, cultural fit, and potential for growth within the organization.

Stage 8: Offer

This is where the candidate journey finally comes to an end, now handing over the baton to the term “employee.”

This stage is marked with the extension of a job offer

It may also include a negotiation process where the candidate and company discuss salary, benefits, and other terms of employment.

The post-application phase

Stage 9: Onboarding

Onboarding belongs to the post-application phase of the recruitment process. 

Once the candidate accepts the offer, they transition into a new employee. This stage involves orientation, training, and integration into the company culture and team. 

A smooth and supportive onboarding process can help new employees feel welcomed and set them up for long-term organizational success.

Stage 10: Evaluation

After the onboarding process, there’s a period of evaluation where both the new employee and the company assess how well the integration is going. 

This includes regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and performance reviews. 

Open communication and clear expectations are key at this stage to ensure that the new employee is on the right track and feels supported.

Stage 11: Retention

The final stage is about retaining employees within the organization. 

This involves continuous engagement, professional development opportunities, recognition, and maintaining a positive work environment. 

The goal is to keep employees satisfied and motivated, contributing to their long-term success and growth within the company.

How to map the candidate journey? 4 quick steps for success

What is the candidate journey

Step 1: Identify touchpoints and interactions

Touchpoints, the specific points of contact between a candidate and the company or recruiter, are integral to the recruitment process. 

In the pre-application phase, touchpoints range from initial interactions like job ads and social media posts to engaging content about the company’s culture and guidelines for application preparation. 

During the post-application phase, touchpoints extend to orientation materials, regular check-ins, and continuous engagement opportunities. 

Creating a comprehensive list of all potential candidate touchpoints and strategically aligning them with each stage helps in crafting a seamless experience, reflecting positively on the company’s employer brand.

Step 2: Gather data, identify areas for improvement

Collect data from candidate surveys, metrics, and feedback after interactions with candidates. 

Analyze this information to spot common problems and areas for immediate improvement. This isn’t just a one-time check; it’s an ongoing process that helps refine your recruitment strategy.

Find the gaps, address the issues, and continually evolve your approach. It’s about more than hiring; it’s about connecting with future employees and creating a streamlined, engaging experience that sets your organization apart. 

In a nutshell, the goal is to make the candidate’s journey as seamless as possible, building a positive connection that benefits everyone involved.

Step 3: Develop and make changes

Based on your analysis, develop a roadmap to address the identified areas for improvement. 

For example, this could involve updating your job descriptions, enhancing your career site, streamlining the application process, or improving communication with candidates. 

Implement the necessary changes and closely monitor their impact on the candidate experience.

Step 4: Continuously update and refine the candidate journey map

As your recruitment process evolves, stay on track with your candidate journey map and work on any deficiencies or outdated procedures that may need some tweaking.

Regularly review and refine the map to ensure it reflects the current scenario and the latest methods of your hiring cycle.

How to improve the candidate journey?

What is the candidate journey

1. Invest in recruitment technology

Investing in recruitment technology like an applicant tracking system (ATS) can significantly improve the candidate journey in several ways, besides making it time and cost-efficient.

Automatic notifications, personalized emails, and consistent follow-ups help maintain engagement and ensure candidates are informed at each step.

A recruitment software also enables organizations to create user-friendly job portals and application forms, making it easier for candidates to apply for positions. 

2. Strengthen your employer brand

A strong employer brand helps attract and retain top talent, making it an essential consideration for long-term success. 

Build on your existing image by showcasing the company culture, values, and employee experiences on your website and social media, especially on professional platforms like LinkedIn. 

Use storytelling to highlight your mission, vision, and unique selling points as an employer of choice.

3. Optimize job postings

Ensure your job postings are clear, concise, engaging, and easy to understand. Highlight the key responsibilities, qualifications, and benefits of the position. 

Take note of inclusive language and avoid jargon or acronyms that may exclude candidates who belong to a certain community.

Use AI writing tools like ChatGPT to craft an attractive job post that caters to all the realms of your target audience.

4. Leverage social media and other channels

Expand your reach by promoting job opportunities and company culture through social media, job boards, and other relevant channels. 

Encourage employee advocacy by inviting your team to share job postings and company updates on their networks.

5. Train hiring managers and interviewers

Ensure that your hiring team understands the importance of candidate experience and how different gestures and initiatives can leave a lasting impact on a candidate’s mind.

Initiate mentorship programs and provide training on interviewing techniques, blind hiring, and effective communication to create a positive and consistent experience across all the steps of the recruitment drive.

Providing a positive experience to an applicant throughout their candidate journey is one of the major goals of every candidate-oriented recruiter. 

You can buy some handy tips from our mini-guide to enhance your candidate journey map and build a stellar employer brand for yourself (and definitely your clients as well!).

Happy recruiting! 

Frequently asked questions

1. What are the first and last stages of the candidate journey?

The first stage in a candidate’s journey is the awareness stage. It’s a crucial stage where candidates first become cognizant of a job opening or an organization that piques their interest. 

The last stage is onboarding. After the selection process, the candidate accepts the job offer and officially integrates into the organization, beginning their new role.

2. Why is the candidate journey important?

Emphasizing on candidate journey can have substantial benefits for a business. For one, a well-structured candidate journey can bolster an organization’s reputation and branding. This not only attracts potential employees but also paints a positive image of the company. 

Additionally, focusing on the candidate journey can enhance the quality of hires. It ensures the organization is engaging with the right talent, thus fostering a higher likelihood of success and meaningful contributions to the company’s objectives.

3. What role does #RecTech play in the candidate journey? 

Recruitment technology, or #RecTech, refines the candidate journey by automating routine tasks such as resume screening and interview scheduling. It uses tools like ATS for efficient candidate tracking and quick feedback. 

Automated email systems and chatbots enable real-time communication, enhancing candidate experience. Further, it offers personalization, providing tailored job recommendations and application updates.