Before incorporating talent of great value to a company, we need to review a phase or stage of extreme importance. This step is gaining more relevance each day because of the impact it causes. We are speaking about the so-called candidate experience.

Right now, we are experiencing a tough competition on capturing specialized talent. Candidate experience is crucial for a winning strategy in this terrain, where a key professional decides whether to accept or not to join our company and helps strive its business.

Therefore, I have decided to address this issue in this space, for reflection. First, to share what I consider best practices, exemplifying them with real cases that we have put into work at Vodafone; and then, to think about the impact that this experience has on the candidate and the company.

In order to better understand and assess whether the experience of any of our candidates are living today is good, regular or bad, it is necessary to walk in their shoes. Often, our own biases and the passion with which we defend the processes we have developed can make it difficult to see objectively if these methods work. Therefore, we need our employee’s support: the ones who just recently joined the company, and of course, those who didn´t but are willing to give us feedback.

We start by sketching out the candidate journey. One of the techniques we have implemented in Vodafone is to adapt our customer journey to the employee journey, analysing what the candidate feels, thinks and does, at each stage of our recruitment process. But clearly, we cannot have the same experience for all. We understand that not all employees are equal so that no magic formula can be universally used.

Since there is a diversity of employees, we have decided to imagine three potential candidates. Three people that are close to what we seek and what we have within the company –a millennial profile, a profile of a mother who is starting to work again after a break in her career (which could perfectly be a Reconnect profile) and a profile of Director from the generation X who is looking for new challenges–. These profiles have helped us to understand what is important to each of them, what points in common can be found among the three of them, as well as what stages they go through, thinking, acting and feeling differently.

This way, we have made the ideal journey that any employee should make before joining the company. We have defined what feelings and emotions we want to promote, as well as the benefits we can offer to them specifically, according to their needs. For example, a millennial probably will not feel so attracted by a pension plan, but for a Generation X employee, this could be very attractive.

I also believe that it is important to overcome the fear of incorporating technology into our candidate experience. A WOW effect! is necessary to make our process unique and to keep the candidate involved. Incorporating gamification, interactive web pages, new interview formats (video interviews), an app for onboarding (explaining our new employee’s first days) are good examples. Also, these solutions help us foster the viralisation of the candidate experience.

In Vodafone, depending on the profile that we are looking for, we have incorporated these technologies. For example, for graduates and interns, we have included gamification at the application site, which helped us to attract more digitized profiles increasing candidates’ involvement and satisfaction.

As I mentioned before, human resources shouldn’t be alone in this process. Involving our employees in the creation of this experience will help us make a unique candidate experience. Conducting focus groups with people from different departments that can assist us in drawing the ideal path for any candidate, is one of the initiatives that we have also carried out at Vodafone. By involving different areas we have been able to describe what an ideal journey would be like.

Another crucial factor is a transparent and constant communication. You can make a difference by keeping candidates informed of the process and by giving feedback on their application. At the same time, being clear and frank about the job offer is equally important. Describing job positions as something that it is not, is the worst we could do because, in the end, we will win an unmotivated employee, who may feel cheated by the organization.

And how do all this affects the company? It generates a direct impact on the employer branding and the perception of current and potential customers. We must not forget that candidates are also our clients. If a candidate has a bad experience, he or she will probably stop buying our products/services and even talk ill about our company.

The candidate experience is essential, and we should be aware of it. We must begin by assessing the current experience and find ways to improve it. And once we finally have reached the ideal experience, we must keep innovating and continually review it. The world in which we live is changing, and so must be our processes. Transform them so that they can create value regularly.