There’s no two ways about it. Candidate experience is now THE difference maker in digital recruitment. And for good reason, too.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – creating a digital experience that excites, motivates and converts candidates is the holy grail of all online recruitment marketing.

Let’s get one thing clear. If we understand how to give people the right experience and the right journey, we can move them towards taking the action we want.

We recently conducted a research survey that found jobseekers have either entirely stopped purchasing (12%) or purchased less (11.5%) from a brand because of a negative candidate experience. What does this tell us? Well, if you don’t deliver a great candidate experience time and again you’re going to suffer – not only by losing out on talent, but also by losing customers!

The recruitment process needs to be people-first. Every brand experience is as valuable as the next – whether it’s recruitment or anything else it’s an opportunity to delight, retain or attract a customer.

All hope is not lost. To help you out, here are five ways you can prioritise for a candidate-first digital experience. 



OK, so you might not have heard of ZMOT before. Simply put, ZMOT is an acronym for Zero Moment of Truth. The ZMOT is the initial stimulus, or trigger, that sets the candidate on their journey with a brand. Once that initial spark has taken place, your candidate delves into research mode.

Think about yourself… would you buy a new product without checking Amazon reviews or reading user blogs first? Of course you wouldn’t! The same principles are in play when candidates apply for jobs. In fact, it’s been shown that 72% of candidates spend between 2-6 hours researching a role before applying.

So, the ZMOT is that critical moment when your candidate journey is brought to life. Experience will be crucial here. If you can give your candidates the information, support and help they’re looking for, you can start to move them along the candidate journey.

Move towards action

Experience is made up of many different components. As the saying goes, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them FEEL.” That’s why experience is so crucial. Your candidate journey needs to include emotional and rational drivers that push your candidates towards a specific, pre-identified action. But remember, people feel first and think second.

Candidate journey maps are an absolute necessity in today’s world. These help you contextualize and make sense of your unique digital ecosystem. In fact, there’s a good chance your “journey” isn’t a straight line. In reality, your candidate journey is probably a complex digital web that weaves and twists towards a final outcome. So how do you make sense of these components and craft an experience that is effortless and easy?

How do we make candidate experience effortless & simple?

To make experiences effortless and simple, we really need to hone in on what it is our candidates are looking for. Persona and empathy maps help clarify and contextualize your candidates’ rational and emotional drivers. What excites them? What keeps them up at night? Where do they go for content? What social channels do they populate? Which thought leaders do they follow?

All of these questions (and many more!) must be answered in order to gain a 360-degree understanding of your candidate from THEIR point of view. This enables you to create experiences that feel natural and seamless. Of course, you need to walk the journey yourself and step into the shoes of your candidates. Only by living it yourself can you optimize and create experiences that really matter to your candidates.

Check out a website called – all you need to do is enter a keyword of your choosing and you can see the main search queries related to that word. It’s a really useful tool to find out how people are thinking, and more importantly what information they’re looking for. You can then engineer your content to answer these questions, which not only keeps your candidates happy but shoots you up Google’s rankings.

Moments between the moments

Along your candidate journey, you’re going to uncover specific mini-moments that could be the difference maker in winning your star candidate or not. Take a classic marketing example. You walk into a clothes store and see a new t-shirt. It looks great on the mannequin, there’s a spotlight above that really makes the colour pop, and you simply can’t resist picking it up. Sounds like a definite sale, right? Wrong!

What does the customer do next? Well, she takes that same t-shirt and walks to the back of the store towards the changing rooms. There’s a long queue. Finally, a room opens up. The customer walks inside, only to find clothes and hangers strewn across the floor. The mirror is dirty and the light above is so dim you can hardly see anything. What happens? That great front-end experience is now met with a subpar experience at the crucial moment of decision. The customer is lost! All because of a moment between the moment that the brand hadn’t planned for.

These same principles apply to the world of digital candidate experience. You absolutely MUST understand where your weak spots lie in order to fix them and ensure that your candidates are given an exceptional experience across the ENTIRE journey. In my experience, this is only possible when you take a really strong, objective look at your existing candidate journey and walk in the applicant’s shoes to understand their feelings and motivations.

Google RankBrain

Finally, there are a number of clear-cut, practical benefits to improving your digital experience.

Get this: Google RankBrain now ranks websites based on their user experience. If your careers website doesn’t offer an exceptional experience, you could drop down the rankings. It’s not all about increasing traffic or speed, either. You need to create bespoke content that keeps Google and your candidates happy. A great checkpoint is to ask yourself: “Am I adding value to my candidates’ lives?”

If the answer is “No,” then it’s probably not worth doing.

And remember, it’s not the size of your Big Data that matters, either – it’s what you do with it. You need to ensure that you use data to test and learn and constantly improve. In fact, we’re now instituting what we call “Evolutionary Design” with our clients. People used to buy careers websites like cars every three to four years. Now, we like to think of a website as a Formula 1 car. We constantly need to test and learn to improve it on a continual basis.

Ultimately, experience is absolutely the main difference maker between winning a new candidate or losing one for life. Start small and make daily changes; before long, you’ll be amazed at the results.

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