Optimising Your Employer Branding Campaigns with Candidate Journey Mapping

Optimising Your Employer Branding Campaigns with Candidate Journey Mapping

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A picture is indeed worth a thousand words to us humans. From a synoptic chart that represents the weather to a Venn diagram that describes a relationship, visualising complex concepts grants us a faster and deeper understanding of them.

In the age of AI and big data we have access to more information than ever before. Where we primates tend to fall down is making sense of it, drawing insights from it, and putting those learnings into action.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Today we’ll be looking at how to use data and visualisation to enhance your employer brand, by mapping the journey that a candidate takes with you, a potential employer.

The importance of mapping the candidate journey

The archetypal journey mapping tool is the sales funnel—a staple of PowerPoint presentations the world over. It describes how a customer moves from a state of awareness, discovery, evaluation, intent, purchase and loyalty (or any variation of these) as they interact with a brand. By visualising this journey you better understand it, and by better understanding it you can work to improve it.

Likewise, mapping a candidate journey helps an employer understand exactly how a candidate is interacting with their brand, and how those interactions might be improved. It puts you in the candidate’s shoes, facilitating a better understanding of the needs, the wants, the fears and the frustrations that a candidate might feel as they work their way through the process. It also helps you develop an understanding of how your brand is seen by those on the outside.

But why should an employer care what a candidate thinks? Some numbers might help to explain:

  • 78% of candidates say the candidate experience is an indicator of how a company values its people.
  • 83% of candidates say a negative interview experience can change their mind over a company or role that they were initially interested in.
  • 72% of candidates who had a bad experience have shared it online or directly with others.

In short, if you ignore the needs of candidates, you’ll stop getting candidates.

But armed with the knowledge and tools needed to map your candidate journey, you can guard against these bad experiences and their undesirable flow-on effects. You can develop an enhanced recruitment marketing strategy; one that delivers specific content to a specific audience through specific channels, and that positions your company as an employer of choice.

The result? A better allocation of recruitment resources, more efficient and effective recruiting, and the sort of employer brand that attracts the very best talent available.

Creating and using a candidate journey map

So how does an organisation use candidate journey mapping to enhance their employer brand? To find out, let’s take a walk through the process of creating and employing such a map.

Understanding stages and touchpoints

Before we get into the development of a candidate journey map, we must first understand its two key elements: stages and touchpoints.

A candidate’s journey is made up of six different stages:

  1. Awareness: A candidate first becomes aware of your employer brand.
  2. Consideration: A candidate researches your company and competitors.
  3. Interest: A candidate identifies your company as their first choice.
  4. Application: A candidate applies for one of your open roles.
  5. Selection: A candidate goes through your hiring process.
  6. Hire: A candidate is identified as the successful applicant and becomes an employee.

While some of these stages may be represented by a moment and others might span months, every successful candidate will go through every stage of this journey, and in that order. What makes each candidate journey unique is not the stages, but individual interactions—or touchpoints—that the candidate has with your brand.

Any and every interaction between candidate and brand can be considered a touchpoint. For example, a candidate could:

  • See one of your job ads
  • Read a company blog post
  • Visit your brand’s LinkedIn page
  • Talk to a team member at a career day
  • Visit your office
  • Check your company’s Glassdoor reviews
  • Fill out a job application

Stages and touchpoints understood, follow these five steps to develop your map.

Step 1: Construct a candidate persona

What does your ideal candidate look like? A candidate persona gives this piece of perfection a human form, and will offer direction for the rest of the process. Create a complete bio, with history, personality, goals, skills, motivations, personal networks and even a name. Put yourself in the persona’s shoes for the rest of the process.

Step 2: Identify the candidate’s needs at each stage

In each of the six stages listed above, what are the candidate’s major needs? Ask yourself what they might be thinking at each point, and how you might be able to help them. ‘Who is this company?’ at the ‘awareness’ stage, or ‘have they received my email?’ at the ‘application’ stage. Aim to answer these hypothetical questions.

Step 3: Understand the touchpoints

In order to meet a candidate’s needs you’ll need to engage and interact with them. Put on your persona’s shoes and think of all conceivable touchpoints at every stage of the process. How would they learn about your company at the ‘consideration’ stage? Why and how would they want to interact during the ‘selection’ stage? This is an exhaustive process, but vital in effectively mapping out the journey.

Step 4: Choose your channels

Now we’ll move from the what to the where. Where did these touchpoints happen? Which channels would the candidate use to find out more about your company and its competitors during the ‘interest’ stage? Glassdoor? A trade fair? Through which channels will they learn they’ve been hired? In person? Via email or phone call?

Step 5: Create your map

Research done, it’s time to visualise all that you’ve learnt. perhaps you produce a graph that outlines the channels, the touchpoints and the candidate’s thoughts at each stage. Perhaps it’s a mud map that guides you through the journey with a succession of arrows. There’s no right or wrong answer here, and plenty of inspiration can be found by searching similar maps on Google Images.

The resulting visualisation will serve as a guide for your recruiting and marketing departments, allowing you to analyse your current hiring process and identify ways in which it can improve. Those who navigate the process will be your live testers – ask both successful and unsuccessful candidates what aspects left them feeling disappointed and frustrated, and concentrate on these areas.

Mapping your own journey to success

A concept as abstract and complex as a candidate journey is understandably difficult for brains built on the Savannah to visualise. But employers that make the effort to map the process out, and use that map to improve the way that candidates see them, will reap the rewards of an enhanced employer brand.

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