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6 Stages of Candidate Hiring Journey in Recruitment

A good understanding of candidate journey touchpoints is crucial for a strong recruitment strategy. In this article, we explain candidate journey and its 6 stages.

6 Stages of Candidate Hiring Journey in Recruitment hero image
Krishan Patel image

Written by Krishan Patel

23 Mar, 2022  –  4 min read

Stages of the candidate journey

The recruitment process can often be entirely responsible for shaping a candidate’s opinion of a company. While a candidate must do their best to impress the recruiter, recruiters often forget that they also need to create a positive impression. It’s a two-way courtship. Companies that underestimate the power of the candidate journey do so at their peril. For 54% of candidates, a negative experience will impact their decision to accept a job offer. But recruiters don’t just risk losing the best talent if candidates are unsatisfied. The company’s reputation is also at stake too, as 72% of job seekers will share their bad experiences online. Understanding the candidate journey improves their experience and helps you cut the time and cost of hiring, build a stronger employer brand, and secure the best talent.

What is a candidate journey?

The candidate journey is the experience that job seekers have during job hunting, beginning before a candidate applies for a job. It is the very first step in employee engagement. There are usually six key touchpoints during the candidate journey which are crucial in shaping their overall experience. Each step of the journey impacts a candidate’s behaviour, and companies have multiple opportunities to engage, influence, and turn a candidate from a passive job seeker to an enthusiastic applicant.

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Six stages of the candidate journey

These are: 

1. Awareness

This is the first stage of the hiring journey where the candidate becomes aware of your company and job opening. This may have occurred from a post on social media, a referral, or a job advertisement.

2. Consideration

Candidates are now reviewing your company and are beginning to research your company culture, benefits, and candidate reviews.

3. Interests

The candidate’s interest is peaked at this stage, and they’ve chosen your company as their preferred employer.

4. Application

The candidate begins applying to your job vacancy by submitting their CV or completing a job application form. 

5. Selection

This is when the candidate will begin your selection process, and this stage of the journey continues until after interviews.

6. Hire

The last stage of the candidate journey is where the candidate is either hired or rejected through a call or email. Everything before this step will determine whether the candidate accepts a job offer.

How to ensure a great candidate journey?

Creating a great candidate journey can ensure you capitalise on every touchpoint of the process. Getting it right can lead to more quality applications and referrals, shorter hiring times, lower recruitment costs, and a strong employer brand. Here are some key steps to creating a great hiring journey.

Create an easy application process

A complicated application process is a sure-fire way to put off potential candidates. To help you generate more interest in a vacancy and more applications, keep the application process both short and mobile-friendly. This shows that you value your candidates’ time. You could also:

  • Use video job descriptions to humanise your brand
  • Make your careers page easy to find on your website
  • Give clear application instructions
  • Keep the application to one page
  • Only make application answers required if you truly need them
  • Allow free-response answers
  • Let applicants submit URL links to work examples

Identify your candidate persona

Your candidate persona is a representation of your ideal candidate. It includes work history, education, qualifications, expertise, career goals, personality traits, and soft skills. Identifying your candidate persona will help you target more precisely and save you valuable time. The key is researching industry trends, interviewing stakeholders and existing employees, and through your experiences of candidate interviews. From all this information, you can create a checklist that will help you picture what an ideal candidate is.

Map out your candidate journey 

Mapping out the entire candidate journey can help you to answer the following questions:

  • Who is your ideal candidate, and what’s the best way to interact with them?
  • What do you want your candidates to feel when they encounter your brand?
  • How regularly should your company communicate with candidates?
  • How can you make candidates feel valued and informed at each stage of the application process?
  • How can you keep those candidates not ready to apply yet, in mind for the future?

But how do you actually do it? Here are our tips: 

1. Research

Start by researching your candidate experience. You may already have useful data such as exit interview information which you can add to by interviewing new employees and conducting an online survey with past and present candidates. 

2. Develop your candidate personas

Once you’ve done your preliminary research, you need to determine the candidate persona you are looking for, i.e. your ideal applicant’s characteristics, skills, needs, goals, thoughts, feelings, and annoyances. Once you have a clearly defined candidate persona, you will have a clearer idea of the type of person whose candidate journey you are mapping. 

3. Identify candidates’ needs

Imagine the hiring journey from the applicant’s point of view. You need to identify your candidates’ main needs and wants at each stage and their thoughts and feelings that drive their behaviour and decision making. For example:

  • Awareness: Who is this company?
  • Consideration: What’s in it for me?
  • Interest: What makes this company different?
  • Application: Have they received my application? When will I hear back?
  • Selection: Do they like me, and do I like them?
  • Hire: I’ve got the job!

Outline the touchpoints and processes for each stage, including any problem areas such as a complicated or lengthy application process. Look at the transitions between the different stages and identify any points where a candidate might feel lost or disengaged. 

4. Take action 

Smooth out any bumps you come across in the candidate journey. For instance, are there too many steps in the application process? Do candidates wait too long to hear if their application is successful? Include possible solutions such as updating the careers section on the website or overhauling the application form. 

Focus on relationships, not resumes

There’s no doubt that a candidate’s skills and experience are important factors in their suitability for the job. But the candidate journey should not solely focus on generating a pile of resumes. It is about fostering relationships. It should focus on what a candidate is looking for and their needs and wants, rather than making them feel like they are part of a transaction. You need to make them feel that you care about them and are invested in them, regardless of whether they apply or not.

Every company that recruits staff has a candidate journey. But if your candidate journey isn’t up to scratch, you’ll likely miss out on the top talent in your industry. Create an exceptional candidate journey, and you’ll strengthen your employer brand and make your company an attractive option for people with the skills you need.

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