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Mapping the Candidate Journey

When is the last time you invested in something that would require a considerable amount of your time or money, without doing some online research first?

Can you remember? I certainly can’t!

As someone who planned their last vacation by cross-referencing Instagram posts to create a geolocation-based itinerary on Google Maps (colour coded by priority), I’m probably in the ‘extreme’ category of online researchers but I’m certainly not alone. In fact, 40% of millennials are using Instagram to determine their next holiday destination.

And it’s not just travel.

According to Hubspot, 77% of B2B customers say they have no interest in talking to reps until they’ve done their own online research, while 81% of B2C consumers saying they are doing online research before making purchases online or in store. A further 61% of them look at online reviews and 62% in B2B say they finalise vendor lists solely through digital content.

So, if this is what people are doing for purchases like holidays, laptops or software — all important but not necessarily life-changing decisions — why on earth would we not think they are doing the same for their next job?

Switching jobs is a huge, life-changing decision to undertake — so we all intuitively know it involves a lot of research, planning and active consideration. A huge proportion of this is happening online.

Despite this, most employers have their backs to the action.

With 79% of Irish businesses struggling to fill roles in 2022 and 60% expecting to need to recruit internationally this year, employer branding has become absolutely crucial. Yet far too many companies are conducting box-ticking exercises that reduce employer branding to a few stock image photos and tokenism diversity on their ‘About Us’ page.

If those same employers instead considered a 360-degree view of the candidate journey, they could unlock a powerful tool for HR and vastly improve their return on investment in things like recruitment agencies, advertising and PR.

It may seem like a big undertaking — and perhaps a little intimidating for those whose roles do not incorporate the digital realm into their day-to-day work — but as the saying goes, “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” All that is needed is for an HR hero to step into the shoes of their candidate and critically assess the company’s recruitment process from the outside in. Then they just need to start asking the relevant people — in IT, recruitment, other departments and marketing — plenty of questions.

At Atomic DNA, we have created a simple model we believe anyone can follow in their assessment. We call it the Employee Success Funnel and it has nine steps that ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’ but you can call it a jazzier name if you want. The most important thing to note about this funnel is that the interview process, while super important to the experience, is not the beginning or the end of the journey.

I have included some sample kick-starter questions that we consider with our clients for the first three stages (no, not all stages — this is teaser content!). You will most likely find that your company is stronger on some stages than on others, or missing some stages altogether. That is perfectly normal. But by going through the process step by step from your candidates’ point of view, you will be in a position to spot some key gaps and actions to prioritise and empowered to create a more engaging and seamless journey that ultimately converts.

Mapping the Candidate Journey
1. Awareness:

Does a potential candidate know about your company? What are they likely to know and why? Are there simple ways of improving that, particularly at points of engagement that may be uniquely important to them, such as college or community engagement?

2. Research:

Start googling yourself. What comes up? Most of our new clients reveal (as surprised as we are) that they have never indulged in this simple action. This includes clients that are heavily reliant on inbound in selling their own product! But sometimes the most obvious thing is the most overlooked, right? Can the online story be improved in any way? (Rope in your companies PR and SEO experts on that one.) What do important employer research platforms such as Glassdoor say about you?

Mapping the Candidate Journey
3. Evaluation:

Try searching for some job specs that you know are ‘live.’ Most candidates, unless they are already in love with your company, will start by searching for job titles and skills they have, rather than by company. Therefore, the job spec is often their first impression of your company.  How does that job spec look? Are they clear, concise and convincing? Where do they appear online? Where do they lead people to next? Are there areas of improvement within your control regarding the job spec template, consistency of language, improving language cues to improve diversity applications?

These are just some of the areas we help our clients investigate. You will probably have a few ideas of your own from the next steps. And you may find that in undertaking this process, there is a great hidden benefit — bringing new levels of alignment across many diverse teams. What HR team wouldn’t want that?

Kick-start your Employer Branding Project with confidence.
Taking the reins on your Employer Branding is no mean feat – but it’s a little less daunting when you have the right tools.
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