By: Liz Du, Employer Brand & Talent Marketing Leader
The candidate experience and the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) are fundamental elements of a company’s employer brand. But, often they are not consistent. I’m here to talk about the importance of aligning the two for a more comprehensive (and cohesive!) employer branding strategy.
Generally speaking, the EVP is a fairly well-defined and clear construct - the foundation for messaging, campaigns and other employer brand programs. The key to a successful EVP is balance. That is, the fine line you need to walk in presenting the EVP as both a current-state representation of what the company has to offer and the forward-looking aspirational view of where it’s going and what it wants to be known for.
Easy, right? Of course not. There is a reason most companies choose to work with an agency partner versus wrangling resources in-house. It’s largely that the research requirements to get it right involve a lot of time and effort. In EVP input sessions, executives tend to have loud voices, and those voices generally skew toward aspiration versus. reality. A good EVP development process includes a whole lot of listening to employees across a range of levels, geographies, and functional areas so you’re capturing the true employee experience.
But, where does the candidate fit into this?
Candidate experience, in contrast to the EVP, is much more of a “wild west” construct. Ask ten different companies to define it and tell you who owns it, and you’ll likely get ten very different answers. The full topic of candidate experience is something I’ll save for another day; but what’s critical to think about right now is that it absolutely needs to be represented within the EVP, right alongside the employee experience input. The candidate experience is a company’s first “moment of truth”, and for so many candidates, the words they read on the career site and other branded materials (derived from the EVP) are definitely not consistent with how they’re treated.
I believe these areas are the biggest culprits in that poor experience:
Technology: The digitization of recruitment practices is nothing new. ATS platforms have come a long way, and we now have strong CRM platforms for candidate engagement. That said, there is still a distinct need to bring a human voice to these digital experiences with the embedded messaging, and to ensure we do not try to over-automate candidate touchpoints. In most cases, there is still a need to think about the balance between the tech and human sides of the application, interview and onboarding processes.
Human interaction: Nothing breaks an employer brander’s heart more than delivering consistent, well-thought-out messaging only for it to be misappropriated and leveraged in a way that deviates from it, creating a disconnected or inconsistent experience. While human interaction with candidates is both unavoidable and necessary, consistency in both tone and message (not just regurgitating scripted messaging, but embodiment of the company’s values, purpose, and of course, EVP).
Feedback mechanisms: In far too many companies, the prioritization of candidate feedback is simply not there. Maybe employers don’t want to hear about how a recruiter ghosted them after they invested hours into their interviews, or they simply don’t have the resources to do anything about it. But (and I hate to preach about it, but it’s the marketer in me) without data to act on, how can we ever improve? Whether it’s a candidate survey, focus groups or some other way of capturing candidate feedback, this is a critical piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked.
The bottom line is, candidate expectations have changed dramatically, indicating that the candidate experience is more important than ever. In order to keep up with those expectations, it is imperative that we increase our emphasis on the candidate experience in our EVP development and drive toward a better, more comprehensive representation of a company through the eyes of both candidates and employees.
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