The Candidate Experience Doesn't Stop at an Offer Letter

by Nick Hutchinson | Posted | Talent Acquisition

The Candidate Experience Doesn't Stop at an Offer Letter

The ideal candidate's resume lands in your inbox. You read it through, bring them in for an interview – or two – and extend an offer letter. Your job is done!

Not so fast! Just because a candidate has accepted an offer doesn't mean the candidate experience ends full-stop. It would be unproductive to expend all that effort into the candidate experience to then let it all go once the employee accepts an offer.

Let's break it down. Job seekers are looking for the right fit. They land on your career site or have a chance encounter with a former colleague, are intrigued by what they see or hear and apply for the job. After you interview the candidate and determine that they are the right fit for the role, you send them an offer, they sign it, return it, and then... silence. What happens in between signing on the dotted line and the first day of work?

It's an experience, not a process

Once a candidate signs an offer, communication and engagement should be dialed up! In a competitive talent landscape it's important that you keep candidates engaged. The period of time between the candidate accepting your offer and the first day has potential to be volatile. During their notice period, employers may present counter-offers to convince employees to stay and other recruiters could well be reaching out to your candidate.

How do you combat this? It's important that you continue to engage them as you would once they are an employee; send content and interactive videos and start to integrate learning and development.

The candidate experience is a key part of retaining top talent

Pre-boarding, onboarding, and integrating your new employee should be an experience that makes them feel prepared for the job and ultimately, want to stay.

The candidate experience doesn't stop after the first day – or even the first week or month! It can take up to six months or more before an employee feels comfortable within the organization. Once a candidate joins your organization, it's important that their manager coaches and engages them, and helps plan goals that shape their career path.

The (not-so) secret to retaining your talent

For employees of any tenure, recognition and rewards, and coaching and engagement are an integral part of the candidate experience.

Statistics show that most people leave within the first six months of being hired if their onboarding experience isn't good. If you can nail the pre-boarding, onboarding and the hiring process, your employees will stay, and you'll get return on your investment.

The candidate experience starts here

Listen to my Q&A-style chat with Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst for Workforce Management and Talent Acquisition at Brandon Hall Group as we dive into the candidate experience.

In our conversation, you'll hear insights about:

  • Making the candidate experience just that – an experience
  • How the candidate experience influences talent recruitment and retention
  • How to keep your top talent engaged

Full Transcript

Cliff Stevenson: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us. My name is Cliff Stevenson. I am the Principal Analyst for Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management at Brandon Hall Group. I'm joined today by Nick Hutchinson, Head of Solution Consulting for Talent Acquisition over at Saba. Hello, Nick.

Nick Hutchinson: Hi, Cliff. How are you doing?

Cliff: Very well. We've been talking today – there's a whole series if you want to listen to us expound on any other issues – we've been talking about candidate experience. We've talked about a few things today and one of them has been on recruiting internally. I want to go further on that and specifically talk about people that are already in the organization because it seems pointless to expend all this effort into creating a top-level candidate experience just to lose people once they are in the organization. Let's talk a little bit today, Nick, about keeping people in the organization once they're there, retaining the talent that you have. You've got these high performers, what can you do to keep them, to make sure that you retain these great employees and make sure that they have opportunities within the organization to expand who they are and their own skills?

Nick: Yes, absolutely and I think what's important, Cliff, is to think about this before they become an employee as well. Of course, we want to retain that talent once they are on board, but we can start doing that as soon as they become applicants. Start communicating regularly in the right way, and once we get that offer, I think in recruitment you say it time and time again: we engage with candidates, we create a great experience, they have an offer and they accept that offer and then everything stops. They might be working a month, two months, three months' notice period and a lot of organizations will drop off the communication because they think, "Right, its great! We've got them hired," and they stop communicating with them, right? But that's a no, that's a big, big mistake.

Actually, I strongly believe that that's when the engagement level should actually increase because the way I think about it, they're happy now, they're content, they've secured the role that they wanted. But their current employer is saying, "Actually we don't want you to leave. You're a really, really good employee. We're going to offer you more money." Or "What's wrong? What can we do to convince you to stay?"

At the same time they're going to have other agencies or other recruiters knocking on their door really trying to tempt them into other roles. I think its key that once we give that person an offer, we start to engage them in our organization as how we would expect to engage with them once they are employees as well.

Starting to drip feed learning content out to them, interactive videos, really nice onboarding experiences, and making it an experience, so rather than just the process they're starting to get a real feel for the organization which they're about to join. On day one, when they come to you, they're ready, they're engaged, they're ready to start work, they've done a lot of learning, they've communicated well with their manager, and we're getting ready at stage one in order to be able to keep that person in the organization, and then we need to continue that. Using the same software, we can continue to build out those regular check-in processes, those regular one-to-ones, being able to enable those individuals to learn on-demand. Learn on-demand in a cool and exciting way and allow them to expand and grow their skills within the company, because they're going to want to do that pretty quickly.

They say it takes about six months for somebody to start feeling comfortable in an organization, which when you think about it is quite a long time, right? Those first six months are really, really key. You've made an investment in that individual; you've spent a lot of money to recruit some high level. Then once they're in the company it's important that your hiring managers, well no longer hiring managers, let's just call them managers, they coach and engage that individual, they work with them, they plan their goals. They plan that individual's goals and really talk to that individual about what's in the organization for them, what route their career can take.

What we do here at Saba is recognize and reward people a lot. I don't mean that necessarily the manager recognizing an award but co-workers. We have a really cool feature where we can, if we're pleased or somebody helps us out or somebody just goes a little bit above the usual, we can give them an award visually within the software and the manager and the team get notified of that. It's quite a small thing, but you know what, Cliff, it is actually really cool when somebody does that. It makes you feel really, really happy.

But I think going back to the question, what's key here is to retain your talent once they are onboard in your organization. You need to do everything you can to make sure that individual is happy within your company. If that individual is happy, they're being recognized and rewarded, they're being coached and engaged, then they're going to stay with your organization and they're going to grow in your organization. They're going to promote into your organization and they're going to refer other really good talent into your organization as well. Those are the key messages.

Cliff: I love that idea of recognizing people, getting them involved very early on, and I think that it's -- we can get trapped into these old 30, 60, 90 days or not even 30 or 60, we'll a lot of -- get in this 90 days sort of mindset just because that's sort of the way things have been done and don't realize there's a lot of impact to be made. But you said before, right after the offer's been made, before your first day, right after you started, the first day, the first week are extremely impactful points.

Nick: Yes absolutely, a really important point as well on the overall timeline, prior to them joining, but then that first six months they've joined the company is a key time. Let's face it that's when most people will leave an organization. If they're with you for six months and the experience has been good and everything is going to plan then you're likely to get your investment and that individual is likely to work with you for a number of years. It's a real critical point around getting that hiring, pre-board and onboarding experience right. Really, I hate to use the cliché but we're all using this term a lot, but "hire till retire." I strongly believe that if you can get the recruitment, pre-boarding and onboarding right then that individual can really become an asset to your organization and you're able to hang on to that talent.

Cliff: Yes, exactly right, and we've seen some data that shows that too. This is not from our candidate experience survey but rather from our Impact of Strategic Onboarding survey that we did this year. We looked at the most desired area for organizations to improve their onboarding, where they thought that they needed to improve, and they said it was in their new hire experience. I have to look this up. 49% of companies said that, that was the area, that was more important than, say, collaboration or even time for proficiency, because it has such an impact like you just said. I think that that's a good place to wrap up this audio blog. As mentioned at the beginning of this recording, this is part of a series. We also cover candidate experience as part of the whole employee journey, the internal candidate experience and the top priorities organization is looking for in technology related to team experience. Thank you for joining us. Thank you, Nick, as well, and we'll talk again soon.

How to deliver a market-leading candidate experience.

Learn how to build strong relationships between your organization and your candidates.


Watch Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

How to deliver a market-leading candidate experience.

Learn how to build strong relationships between your organization and your candidates.


Watch Now


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