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How to Manage and Measure Personalized Candidate Experiences at Scale

Personalized experiences are memorable. Think of the last time you were greeted at a hotel by name, or when a retail associate took the time to understand your needs and preferences. While a candidate experience is not quite the same as a customer experience, candidates are consumers, too. Personalization helps them build affinity for your employer brand and encourages them to move forward in the hiring process.

  • According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalization, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t find it.
  • Companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players. 

“The research suggests that even small shifts in improving customer intimacy create competitive advantage—and these benefits grow with maturity.” – McKinsey & Company

Personalization from first impression to continuous impression

In talent acquisition, intimacy grows from the very first impression and subsequently through each stage of the hiring process. At SmartRecruiters, we like to call this continuous impression–and to help our customers apply technology that enables it.

Companies that invest In personalizing the hiring process are better positioned to attract best-fit candidates. Let’s drill down into specific areas where personalization can give you a competitive advantage in talent acquisition, and look at how you can measure its impact.

Personalizing the career site

When candidates first land on your career site, their location (based on IP address) is the first thing that can be learned about them. A personalized career site will infer that the person is looking for jobs in that location and deliver appropriate roles. As the candidate performs searches, the site gathers more information about the job types of interest.

A smart career site can deliver relevant content such as blogs and videos showcasing relevant employee stories or inspirational articles. For example, an article such as “4 Reasons to Consider a Job in Pub Management” could be placed next to a job description for an Assistant Pub Manager.

If the candidate leaves the website and then comes back, the smart career site will remember what they looked at before and deliver similar jobs and content. The content and jobs can also be optimized for search engines to help them appear prominently in search results so that people find the career site organically. 

Over time, information on page views and search terms helps companies understand candidate interests and develop additional relevant content. The example below shows a page from SmartRecruiters Attrax search term analytics. 

SEO analytics report

One company that used behavioral targeting and SEO-driven personalization techniques saw a 90% increase in job views and a 40% increase in people reading their career stories.

Personalizing the next steps in a CRM

At this stage in the candidate journey, candidate preferences are inferred. Companies using a CRM can configure their websites to direct candidates to a landing page that invites them to join a talent community. SmartCRM captures the names of candidates who are not quite ready to apply or do not see a relevant role. 

The screenshot below shows open rates and click rates from a nurture campaign over a two-day period.

SmartRecruiters CRM

Measuring the impact of top-of-funnel personalization

The two screenshots above demonstrate how measurement is baked into each step of website and CRM interaction. But what if you want to know the effectiveness of any given channel in converting candidates to applicants? Sourcing analytics is the answer. 

In the view below, we see the proportion of applications that come from personalized sources like the career site, SmartCRM, and Google organic search against paid sources like Indeed and Monster. 

Sourcing Analytics Report

Tracking this data allows recruiting teams to report on ROI for each channel and adjust their investments accordingly. The views can be filtered by fields such as department, location, or brand. Additionally, the conversion of each candidate source to interviewed status can also be tracked to understand candidate quality by source.

Personalizing the interview process

The interview process is all about communication. Criteria found that 54% of candidates have abandoned a recruitment process due to poor communication from the recruiter/employer.

The most personal candidate experiences are voice, video, or in-person interactions. Text-based digital communications can be personalized with the use of name merge fields in templates for response emails, interview scheduling notifications, reminders, follow-up communications, assessment requests, background check requests, and offers. 

Companies can further show candidates how much they matter by

  • Building hiring workflows that trigger reminders and updates at each stage
  • Using bulk texting features to thank candidates and send reminders
  • Giving recruiters access to a library of on-brand communication templates
  • Reminding hiring managers and interviewers to review candidate profiles and input notes after the interview to keep the entire interview team informed and the process flowing smoothly.

Measuring the impact of interview process improvements

The lack of communication can have a surprisingly negative impact on the candidate’s experience. Informed hiring teams that deliver on a commitment to personalized communications throughout the process keep candidates engaged. Bottlenecks to effective hiring can be uncovered by analyzing candidate pipeline data.

In the view below, the recruiter or TA leader can view time in each stage and filter the report by date range, role, or group of roles by department, team, brand, job type, etc. Clicking on any stage shows a detailed view of the time in each of the sub-stages to uncover where the process is slowing down. In this example, the 2-day onsite stage is taking an average of 20 days and could reevaluated. 

Candidate Pipeline

How Colliers EMEA measures its candidate experiences

Candidate pipeline analytics help hold teams accountable, as Colliers EMEA found by using SmartRecruiters. Accountability encourages the adoption of new processes and the delivery of those personalized experiences that candidates crave. 

The immediate availability of data in SmartRecruiters, plus regularly scheduled reporting meetings, helped Colliers’ hiring teams see that their daily actions could add up to a big impact.

What fascinates me about SmartRecruiters is that you can go to the day, the hour, the second of an intervention. It gives us the ability to understand the trends in our recruitment business, diagnose how well things are working, and identify where the opportunities sit. It’s also really intuitive, so you can’t get it wrong.

–  Ben Handyside, Director of Talent Management, EMEA, Colliers

The power of personalization in the age of AI

With the explosion of AI-driven tools, candidates are likely to respond positively to personalization–whether that’s on your website, in your communications, or in your interviewing process. After all, your company is hiring human beings, not robots. Gen Z in particular expects personalization, according to Lehua Stonebraker, SVP of People at SmartRecruiters, in an interview with WorkLife.

There is this expectation of personalization [among Gen Z workers] and around responsiveness. That may mean not wanting to sit around waiting for a week after an interview, before finding out what’s the next stage. There’s an expectation around the feedback loop.

Lehua Stonebraker, SVP of People, SmartRecruiters, in WorkLife

As we’ve said before, what benefits Gen Z benefits every candidate. Companies that invest in creating personalized candidate experiences from first impression to continuous impression will stand out in the increasingly crowded talent marketplace. Building personalization into each stage of the candidate journey is a worthwhile process. 

We’ve got you covered in our ebook, New Essentials of the Candidate Experience. Download it today to get started!

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Lee Ann Prescott