Candidate experience. The two words that can make or break a recruitment agency. It says so much about your company culture, brand image and reputation and is the most important element of your candidate’s journey. A positive experience can encourage people to act as ambassadors for your company and recommend it even if they are not successful with a job themselves or reapply for another job when one pops up.

If you get your candidate experience wrong, you could seriously jeopardise your reputation as a recruiter and an agency. Now with the likes of Glassdoor, where candidates can review their experience with agencies, it will be clear to see which the best are to work with and which ones offer a poor service. Here are five s steps you can take to improve your candidate experience.

Review your current experience

Before you make improvements to your candidate experience, you need to evaluate what you already have in place. Walk yourself through the process of applying for a job with your agency as if you were a candidate and be critical of your procedures. Work out what is important to them and list down everything which would make their experience positive. Is communication a big factor for them? Do they want to feel valued? How much paperwork do they need to fill in? Can they meet you face to face or only talk over the phone? How easy is it for them to get hold of you? Once you have a long list of the requirements for a great candidate experience, you can integrate them into your recruitment strategy.

Work on your communication

A lack of communication is one of the main reasons why someone might have a bad candidate experience. Common mistakes include not acknowledging applications, taking too long to respond to emails, not calling back and ignoring unsuccessful candidates. Make sure you communicate frequently with your candidates and keep them up to date with everything going on. Try to be personable and avoid automated emails as they can be a huge turn off. Also remember that an increasing number of people use social media in their job search so stay on top of your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook notifications!

Always give feedback

Even though feedback falls under the communication category, it’s a vital part of your candidate experience strategy. If a candidate has been unsuccessful with their application, don’t just ignore them! Take the time to give them some detailed and constructive feedback to show you care and help them improve.

Keep it short and sweet

Nobody likes a lengthy and confusing application process so aim to keep everything as simple as possible. According to CareerBuilder, 60% of jobseekers quit in the middle of filling out online applications because they were too long or complex so don’t turn people away by making this mistake. Use your recruitment software and automated processes smartly but be careful not to overcomplicate things. More and more agencies are opting for online applicant portals which is a great way of giving your candidates view of where they are in the process. It gives them more control over their data and information direct from your recruitment CRM.

Be open and honest

Throughout the candidate’s journey, make sure you manage their expectations without demotivating them or pumping their heads full of negative thoughts. You should be completely realistic and transparent with them and remind them that they’re not guaranteed the job!

Even if you don’t think you have a poor candidate experience, it’s still worth taking these tips into consideration and reviewing your current processes to see where improvements could be made. After all, your candidate experience could make the difference between someone accepting or declining a job!