Sharlyn Lauby, experienced HR consultant/HR Bartender blog creator, offers these six steps for auditing your company’s candidate experience.

A positive candidate experience provides organizations with a competitive advantage in two ways. First, from a revenue perspective. The last thing any company wants is to say “no” to a candidate and lose a customer. The business world is way too competitive to lose a customer over a negative hiring experience.

Second is competitive advantage in terms of the War for Talent. As organizations continue to struggle with finding the most qualified candidates, no company can afford to lose top talent because of a poor candidate experience.

Now at this point, you might be asking how widespread the poor candidate experience is. I must admit, the number is bigger than I imagined. According to iCIMS research, 46 percent of candidates rate their candidate experience as poor to very poor. Basically, half of companies have a bad candidate experience. Wow. Half! So how does an organization determine where they are on the scale? By auditing their candidate experience. Here’s a list of six things you can do to see how your organization fares.

1. Social Recruitment. Take a critical eye to your company’s social recruitment efforts. Look at those places where you have a social presence (i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) and review your profile, posting history, responses, etc. Does the company profile accurately reflect the business? Are there links back to the company career site? Is the site being maintained or was the last post six months ago? Are candidate questions being answered? If you’re too close to the social recruiting strategy, ask a manager to check it out and give you their honest opinion. They have a vested interest in taking a few moments to do this. After all, they want good candidates for their job openings.

2. Career Sites. Ask a friend or family member who doesn’t look at your career site every day to visit your career portal and search for a job. Don’t send them a link; allow them to locate and use your site the way a candidate would. Then find out how easy (or difficult) the site was to navigate. Don’t want to take work home and ask a family member? Ask a colleague and offer to return the favor. Develop five quick questions for them to answer about the ease of navigating the site on a scale of 1-5.

3. Applications. The human resources department should time themselves to determine how long it takes to fill out the company application online. I’ve heard HR directors say they attempted this activity and gave up trying to complete their own company application. If that’s true, can you imagine how frustrated a candidate gets? Also, try to upload your LinkedIn profile to apply.

4. Mobile Devices. Speaking of applying for jobs, it seems like everyone today has some sort of mobile device. Check out your career site on a mobile device and try to apply for a job. Time how long the process takes both when you immediately know the job you’re applying for as well as when you search for a job and then apply.

5. Candidate Communications. Probably the biggest complaint from candidates is that they never hear about the status of their application. Many companies are addressing this issue by creating response “rules”. Marie Artim, vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings, says their standard for responding to candidates is five days. If your company has a response standard, it should be easy to confirm that the standard is being maintained. I know I’ve run into situations where the HR department gets crazy busy and standards get stretched (if ya know what I mean). Regular monitoring makes sure candidate communications remain a priority.

6. New Hire Feedback. Go straight to the source. Ask new hires to complete a quick survey after orientation. You can set this up in an onboarding software solution to be sent at a certain time. The results can be submitted confidentially. This is a perfect time while the process is still fresh in their mind.

Honestly, none of these audit items are hard. Yes, they do take planning, dedication, and some effort. But it’s exactly that dedication that ensures your organization will end up on the right half of the candidate experience scale. The companies that care about the candidate experience make creating and monitoring their efforts a priority.

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