Candidate Journey Map – Here’s how you can do it

The adage “Never judge a book by its cover,” is true when it comes to talent acquisition. 

While judging a book by its cover may not be the best course of action, an attractive cover will generate excitement around it. Whether the book can translate that initial excitement into actual sales depends upon the quality of its content. 

An organization’s ‘Employer Brand’, and the news generated around it, is that ‘attractive cover’, while a thoughtfully fleshed out ‘Candidate Journey Map’ does the job of ‘quality content’.

Candidates nowadays put in enormous amounts of research to understand an organization, even before they click to ‘apply’ for a job. Candidates looking for meaningful work relationships with their organizations are willing to reject even Fortune 500 companies as their potential employers.

Organizations, on the other hand, struggle to attract and retain promising talent. It may become a nightmare for the HR and Recruitment, and PR teams if the new employee quits within a few days or months of joining. 

No candidate or organization wants to go through such a time-consuming, expensive and stressful circus.

A Candidate Journey Map is a tool designed to precisely counter such situations.

What Is Candidate Journey Mapping?

A Candidate Journey Map is a graphic representation of your organization’s hiring process. It highlights the various stages or touch points, at which a candidate comes into contact with the organization. Using this graphic, an organization can generate specific content and messages to be given out to candidates at various touchpoints.

Employees –– past, present, and potential –– do not wish to be treated simply like a ‘means to an end’ for the organization to achieve its goals. They want to be treated well and feel cared for. 

But this experience must begin even before a potential employee considers your organization as their potential employer. It must begin from the moment they become aware of your organization for the very first time. 

For this to happen, organizations must start looking at themselves from the candidate’s perspective. Organizations need to introspect about their ‘Employer Brand’ and whether it excites candidates enough to envision a future with them. 

Recruitment teams need to ask themselves certain questions: Do candidates have complete information about the various stages in the recruitment process? How smooth is our recruitment process? What hindrances or doubts candidates may encounter throughout the process? Are candidates updated about the status of their application at every stage?

Answers to these and other such questions can help in creating a positive Employer Brand and, consequently, attract talent.

Importance Of Candidate Journey Mapping

Consider the following:

  • A magazine survey noted that 69% of participants, even if unemployed, would avoid applying to a company with an unfavorable reputation.
  • 72% of candidates reported posting negative reviews online after going through a bad hiring process.
  • Most candidates read at least 6 online reviews before deciding on whether to apply to an organization. 55% of these will not apply to an organization with bad reviews and comments.

Aren’t the above studies reason enough to ensure an efficient and positive candidate experience at each touchpoint?

As it is, demand for top talent far exceeds supply today. 

Stages In the Candidate Journey

The ‘journey’ of a candidate involves multiple steps, i.e., touchpoints where the candidate comes into contact with an organization. Most experts and organizations consider either 6 or 7 steps in this journey. However, of late, organizations have begun to realize the importance of an eighth step too.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Interest
  4. Application
  5. Selection
  6. Hiring
  7. Onboarding
  8. Optimization

Touchpoints 1, 2, and 3 can be categorized under the Pre-application Stage, while touchpoints 5 to 8 under the Post-application stage.

Pre-application Stage

#1 Awareness

This is when a potential candidate is just becoming aware of your organization and any open positions. They may have come across your recruitment advertisement in a newspaper, on a job portal, on your or any other website, on social media, etc. A friend or relative, a past or present employee, may be their source. Or even someone who is considering applying to your organization.

This is your chance to create a positive first impression and to motivate the potential candidate to consider your application to your organization.

 #2 Consideration

This is when potential candidates begin to consider whether to apply to your organization. Here, they may encounter additional touchpoints like meeting your recruitment team at a job fair, going through detailed job descriptions and job requirements on your website, etc. Here, the potential candidate expects concise and precise information about the open positions. They want to understand whether the job is as per their expectations and whether they fit the job requirements. 

An important point to remember here is that potential candidates are comparing you with your competitors at this stage. 

Defining a ‘candidate persona’ is of utmost importance here. The organization has to be very clear about who is an ‘ideal’ candidate for a particular vacant role. Any ambiguity here may cause the potential candidate to go back to the ‘Awareness’ stage, and stop considering your organization. 

Clear and crisp communication at this stage can convert that potential candidate into a candidate. 

#3 Interest

When a potential candidate reaches this stage, pat yourself on the back! Your organization’s messages and job listings have done their job well. The potential candidate is now interested to know more about your organization. They want to understand your work culture, office environment, opinions of the present and past employees, the Management’s values, and whether they identify with those values. They want to understand, among other things, how the organization helps maintain work-life balance for the employees.

This is where your ‘Employer Brand’ plays a very important role. Consistently generating positive press for the organization across all mediums, including word-of-mouth, aids potential candidates to decide in your favor.

Application Stage

#4 Application

A successful pre-application stage culminates in this. Your potential candidate is now officially a candidate. 

After doing all the hard work in the previous steps, you do not want to lose out on a promising candidate just because “it was too cumbersome to apply” to your organization. 

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and experience your organization’s application process first-hand. Is the process too lengthy? Does it require the candidate to fill in too many details? Or upload multiple documents?

Most candidates today search for and apply for jobs on their mobile devices. Create a mobile-friendly process. If you can create a one-click application process, you are sure to attract a lot of applications.

Once an application is received, act fast. Top talent goes off the market faster than you can say “Hired”!

Communicate with the candidate and keep them updated about the status of their application. It’s important to not lose the right candidate to your competitor while you are busy with the paperwork.

Post-application Stage

#5 Selection

This step works both ways. While you, the organization, are evaluating the candidate, the reverse is also true. In all probability, the candidate has attended and will be attending interviews at other organizations.

That first interview is crucial for both parties. Constant and honest communication is the key to ensuring the candidate’s continuing interest in your organization. Take this opportunity to convey to the candidate exactly what it is like to work for your organization. Encourage them to ask questions. 

Don’t waste the candidates’ time at any stage.

After the interview, candidates must wait till they decide on their candidacy. Be sure to keep communicating with them, especially if the decision is expected to take some time.

Convey rejections without delay, via email or, if feasible, phone calls. Tell them clearly why they didn’t make the cut. Candidates appreciate that and remain positive about applying to your organization in the future.

#6 Hiring

So you made them an offer they couldn’t refuse! 

What next? 

Make the new member feel welcome and a part of the ‘family’. Provide them with all the information that they may need when they come into work on that first day.

This takes us to the next step.

#7 Onboarding

A study says that 25% of new employees quit within 3 months! 

New employees need to be given that sense of belonging in their work-family as soon as they are hired. They should be made to feel like an integral part of the company. This can be done with an onboarding plan. 

An onboarding plan should be in place even before an employee is hired. A seamless onboarding process will go a long way in retaining the employee for the long term.

  • To begin with, arrange one-on-one meetings with the various departments that the new employee is expected to work with.
  • Ensure that the employee understands their KRA and the company’s expectations.
  • Provide a mentor who will guide and hand-hold the new employee, especially in the initial stages.

#8 Optimization

Your new employee is your best source of feedback on the Candidate Journey that you have created. They have undertaken that journey recently and can authoritatively point out what worked for them, and what didn’t.

Implement the necessary changes immediately. This will not only make the next candidate’s journey better but will also make life easier for you, the recruiter.

How To Map A Candidate’s Journey?

Every candidate will have a different journey. A map of these various possibilities can be created using the following.

#1 Define a Candidate’s Persona

A candidate persona is like the bio-data of your ideal candidate. The profile of your existing employees may serve as a useful guide for this. A candidate persona may have details like:

  1. Demographic details: Location, education, skill set, current position, salary, experience, social background, etc.
  2. Life goals
  3. Are they active job-seekers or passive?
  4. Why do they want to change jobs?
  5. Who influences their decisions?
  6. Which sources of information do they refer to and trust?
  7. What motivates and attracts them to a particular organization?

#2 Touchpoint Framework

Since it is a journey map, it is important to pay heed to every aspect of the framework. It helps to have a different icon, color, and label for each of these touchpoints. This will make mapping and measuring each of these touchpoints that much easier and more efficient.

#3 Describe Candidate Expectations

Now that the Candidate Persona and Touchpoint Framework are in place, put yourself in the candidate’s position and envision the questions that might arise in their minds at each stage of their journey. Some of these we have already discussed earlier in this article.

Different candidates will have different expectations. Address these as per the persona of the candidate. For example, an experienced professional will have different expectations than those of a fresher.

#4 Identify Definite Touchpoints

Candidates will use various sources to answer the questions that they have about your organization during different stages of their journey. Your job is to ascertain what information you want to pass on through which source and in what form. For example, which discussion forums to participate in, where do you want your products or services reviewed, what kind of buzz do you want to generate around your Employer Brand using social media, etc.

#5 Build your Map

You are now ready to build your Candidate Journey Map using the above. Generate as many variations as possible for your defined Persona-Touchpoints combination. How simple or detailed you want your map to be is a decision you need to make by balancing various variables discussed in this article.

Tools That Can Make Candidate Journey Great

A candidate’s journey can be mapped right from the start. Though organizations can create their system, it is imperative to use tools that can help at every stage. 

These are some of the tools that can make help with journey mapping: 

#1 Applicant Tracking System

For the recruiter, this software can help in finding the right talent. For a candidate, it’s the first step in the mapping journey. ATS can be used in writing strong job descriptions. This helps the applicant understand more about the job, before the interview process. 

#2 Interview Platforms

If you are looking to fill a remote position, using a video interviewing platform may be ideal. It can help with scheduling while saving time and resources for the candidate on commuting. This can help create a positive impression in their mind.

#3 Onboarding Tools

Once a candidate has been hired, it has become imperative for the employer to use a good and effective onboarding tool. These tools help the candidate with settling into the company. Processes like online documentation, information about the 1st day, creating credentials, etc. can be done through onboarding tools. 

#4 Chatbots

A Chatbot can help the candidate right from the selection to the onboarding process. Chatbots can help with pre-interview questions from the candidate as well as the recruiter, scheduling, giving feedback, and becoming a consistent source of communication at all times.  

Hyreo’s conversational AI chatbot is a powerful tool to boost candidate engagement once they have been offered. It enables the prediction of candidate intent to join the company with upto 80% accuracy. With the synergies achieved by an in-built nudge engine, a robust ticketing system, a versatile chatbot, and an automated content push engine, Hyreo can also automate up to 60% of recruiter tasks, significantly enhancing the candidate experience and thereby the company brand image. 

#5 Employee Recognition Software

Once the employee has been incorporated within the company, giving them feedback and recognition is an important aspect of their career. Employee recognition tools can help boost morale in the form of rewards and promote brand engagement. 

#6 Social Media

When used optimally, social media is one of the best tools for candidate mapping. It can be used to find out about various job openings in a company as well as be used to get more information about the organizations and be used for employee recognition. 

Wrap Up

Just like the people you employ, your Candidate Journey Map (CJM) is also a living entity. Its usefulness lies in its dynamicity. With changing times, you need to keep evolving your map to suit the various candidate personae relevant to your organization.

Use your CJM to reduce your cost per hire and to achieve great employee-job fit. You will attract top talent, experience reduced attrition, and create a positive buzz among potential employees.

FAQs About Candidate Journey Mapping

What is the candidate’s journey?

A candidate comes into direct or indirect contact with an organization at various touchpoints before, during, and after the hiring process. At each of these touchpoints, they have different experiences. This is the candidate’s journey wherein, based on those experiences, a potential candidate is converted into a potential employee, and finally into an employee for the organization.

What is an example of a recruiting touchpoint?

Any medium where a candidate comes into direct or indirect contact with an organization is a touchpoint.
The best example of an early touchpoint would be the job listings that organizations put up through various sources. This is the first touchpoint for many potential candidates wherein they become aware of an organization and the career options that it has to offer. 

What are the various touchpoints in a Candidate Journey Map (CJM)?

The ‘journey’ of a candidate involves multiple steps, i.e., touchpoints where the candidate comes into contact with an organization. Most experts and organizations consider either 6 or 7 steps in this journey. However, of late, organizations have begun to realize the importance of an eighth step too.
1. Awareness
2. Consideration
3. Interest
4. Application
5. Selection
6. (Employment) / Hire
7. Onboarding
8. Optimization

What are 3 priorities that potential candidates consider while deciding to apply to an organization?

While priorities may differ for candidates at different stages of their careers, the following are commonly considered.

Remuneration: Should be able to support the candidate’s desired lifestyle
Career Progression: The organization should be able to show them a clear growth trajectory
Work Culture: The place where an employee spends most of their waking hours should offer positive vibes, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging.

How do I create a Candidate Journey Map (CJM)?

Every candidate will have a different journey of their own. The following will be useful in creating a CJM.
1. Define Candidate Persona
2. Touchpoint Framework
3. Describe Candidate Expectations
4. Identify Definite Touchpoints
5. Build Your Candidate Journey Map

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