Candidate Experience: The Key to Hiring Top Developers

Candidate Experience: How to Hire Skilled Engineers

What is candidate experience?

The phrase candidate experience gets thrown around a lot in the recruiting and talent acquisition world. But what does it actually mean? Basically, candidate experience describes the entirety of a candidate’s interactions with your company. Candidate experience captures how candidates feel about your company before, during, and after the recruiting and hiring process. This concept includes every interaction they have with a company, starting with their first message from a recruiter to the offer package (if everything goes well) or how the rejection is handled (if it doesn’t).

These are usually either good or bad experiences. Candidates rarely feel neutral about a company at the conclusion of their interaction with your recruiting process. A candidate’s experience can make or break your ability to hire top talent. Unfortunately, too many companies treat candidate experience as a secondary consideration. According to WorkPlace Trends, almost 60% of applicants have had a negative candidate experience with a company.

Bad candidate experience is a big problem

The recruiting process is a two-way street. Make no mistake: Candidates are evaluating your company during the recruitment process just as much as you’re evaluating them. You might feel great about a candidate and want to extend an offer. But if their outlook on the experience isn’t as rosy, your offer will fall flat. Job seekers consider the candidate experience you provide to be a strong indicator of how you treat employees.

By extension, this directly influences whether they want to work for your company or not. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, 83% of candidates said that a negative experience was enough to change their minds about a role or company that they had been interested in. On the other hand, in that same study 87% of candidates said that a good experience would give them a more positive outlook on a role or company that they had doubts about.

Candidates expect to be treated like the valuable resources that they are. And when their experience with a company is less than stellar, they’re obviously going to think twice about moving forward with that company now or in the future. In effect, your company’s potential candidate pool has just gotten smaller. And candidate experience matters even for candidates who you don’t end up extending an offer to!  

A bad experience doesn’t just sour an individual candidate’s opinion of your company. The likelihood that a candidate will keep that poor experience to themselves is pretty slim! A Workplace Trends survey indicates that around 72% of applicants have shared their interview experience with a candidate on a review site like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Vault. The story will spread and other candidates will start to be wary of your company. As we all know, pissed off people are more likely to write reviews in general. The dudgeon of a job seeker who’s had a bad candidate experience is not to be ignored!

Six easy steps for a better candidate experience

So what can you do to ensure that your candidates have the best possible experience with your company? We’ve got six things that you can do to increase the odds that you’re providing people with a great candidate experience.

Let them evaluate you:

While you and the hiring team are evaluating a candidate, the candidate is evaluating your company. They’re making decisions about your company and the role throughout the entire process. So you need to make sure that they have the data they need and the access they want. Make sure they know who their primary point of contact is on the recruiting side and on the engineering side. They’re likely to have questions for both.

Engage your team:

Everybody in your company that the candidate is in contact with, from the recruiter to the interviewers to the people they eat lunch with, are critical pieces of the candidate’s overall impression of your company. Make sure they’re good impressions!

Don’t drag your feet:

A competitive candidate market means that the talent you want to hire is in high demand. Sought-after candidates expect the entire recruiting process, from initial reachout to interview to offer, to be quick and painless. And 47% of candidates who decline a job offer do so because they’ve already accepted a different offer, according to MRINetwork. To have a better chance with a top candidate, you want to get there first! Don’t rush decisions, of course, but don’t hesitate with your top choices either.

Close the loop with candidates:

If you’re not moving forward with a candidate, letting them know what’s going in a timely manner on shows them that you respect their time. If you ghost them, or keep them on the hook for a long time, that’s a bad candidate experience. And who knows who they’ll tell about their poor experience? The story will spread. Not only will you have lost any future opportunities with that candidate, you’ll probably lose other potential candidates as well.

Offer constructive feedback:

According to LinkedIn, 94% of applicants appreciate feedback if you don’t move forward with them. Letting them know why is instructive and enhances their experience, and giving feedback shows that you value them. Again, even if they’re not the right fit for you now, they might be in the future. And no matter what, you can assume they’re going to share their experiences with other job seekers.

Ask for the candidate’s thoughts:

No matter what the outcome of the process with a candidate is, and no matter which stage of the funnel they reached, it’s enormously instructive to ask for feedback. And don’t just file their feedback away once you’ve gotten it! Your company should iterate its process continually based on candidate feedback and outcomes.

The future of candidate experience

At CodeSignal, we’re working towards a future in which we can dispense with time-consuming activities like phone screens and tech challenges. Instead, companies will be able to rely on a trusted assessment process that measures and quantifies candidate skills. This will save your engineering team a ton of time, of course.

But it will also create a better candidate experience! The top talent that you’re trying to recruit is often already busy with a full-time job and/or are juggling multiple application processes. So if you can offer them a faster, more efficient process candidates will respond positively. Once we’ve reached a stage where companies trust an assessment process and platform like CodeSignal Recruiter, significant points of friction will disappear from the candidate experience. Relying on automated skill assessments will allow you to move candidates through your recruiting process much more smoothly.

Until we reach that point, make sure you’re implementing the six steps outlined above. Even if you can’t eliminate phone screens or take-home challenges quite yet, you’ll be creating a much better experience for all of your candidates!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal can do for your company’s recruiting process? Sign up here for a free demo!

It’s Time to Kill The Resume

It's time to kill the resume: how skills-based recruiting will change how you assess candidates

We’re going to make a sweeping statement here that may shock you:

Resumes are a waste of time.

Or maybe it doesn’t shock you. Most recruiters dislike having to wade through stacks of resumes, so we’re probably preaching to the choir here. So much time gets spent on resumes! Job seekers spend hours crafting the perfect bullet points. Recruiters spend hours looking these resumes over, trying to find the perfect leads to pursue. When we say that resumes are a waste of time, we’re talking about a lot of wasted time – for both applicants and recruiters.

Resumes are a waste of time because they don’t tell you the whole story about a candidate. In fact, they actually don’t tell you very much at all! Read on for the top 5 reasons that it’s time to kill the resume:

  1. They’re a time sink. Realistically, no recruiter has very much time to spend poring over an individual applicant’s resume. So you scan instead, trying to spend as little time as possible on one resume while seeking a handful of keywords. But even just scanning for the usual name + titles + companies + start/end dates + education takes time, and that time starts adding up the more resumes you have to look through.
  2. They rely on self-reported data. In other words, you’re trusting the applicant to tell you the entire, accurate truth about the skills and experiences they have. We’re not saying that prospects are outright lying on their resumes, though that certainly happens. But there is a lot of exaggeration, padding, and carefully phrased misdirection. When you add in the fact that people are notoriously bad at judging their own skill levels, you get a document that tells you next to nothing about a candidate’s actual skills.
  3. They’re not targeted to your roles. Savvy job-seekers will take a little extra time to tailor their resume to the role they’re applying for. But the fact that resumes, by their very nature, cover a person’s entire work-related history means that they contain TOO. MUCH. INFORMATION. And it’s hard to pick out any details that are relevant to your open reqs without spending more time than you really have. So again, you’re stuck scanning, hoping to find meaningful information in a page full of mostly unrelated text.
  4. They are full of fluff. If you had a dollar for every resume you read that described its writer as “dynamic”, “innovative”, or a “team player”, you’d be a rich ex-recruiter lounging on the beach in the Bahamas. None of these phrases mean much of anything, and they definitely don’t tell you whether a candidate is right for a role. It’s just more filler text for you to scan past.
  5. They’re making you miss good prospects. Since you have a limited amount of time to spend per resume, you prioritize certain things that can indicate a quality lead. Which school they went to and where they’ve worked might be a good indicator of whether they’d be a good fit for the role. But if you’re only looking for these, you might automatically dismiss someone who doesn’t have these credentials. And that means you’re missing out on “hidden gem” candidates who have the skills you need – but don’t have the right keywords on their resume.

[bctt tweet=”Resumes are: a) A time sink; b) Unreliable; c) Not targeted to your roles; d) Full of fluff; e) Limiting; or f) All of the above? (Hint: @CodeSignal thinks the answer is f!) ” username=”CodeSignal”]

Okay, you’re convinced. Resumes suck! But they’re a necessary evil for recruiters trying to fill open reqs – right?

Not necessarily.

Skills-based recruiting to the rescue!

Skills-based recruiting offers a solution to the resume trap. Verify an applicant’s skills right away, before you even peek at their resume. So instead of relying on self-reported skills listed in documents full of fluff, you’re seeing a candidate’s actual skills! This saves time for both recruiters and engineering teams and makes it easy to make decisions based on data.

At CodeSignal, we recently opened up a new engineering role… and received 631 applications in response. Instead of having our talent team sort through them one by one to find likely candidates, we sent out an online coding test to every applicant using the CodeSignal Recruiter Test application. Completing a coding test requires effort, so people who only applied because it was a job, any job!, weeded themselves out at the outset by not taking the test. We got immediate result reports for each person who did complete the test. That meant we were able to instantly identify the people who were worth pursuing – based on verified skills alone.

If we estimate a conservative 1 minute per resume, our talent team saved around 10.5 hours by not having to read through resumes from each of those 631 applicants. The team used the skill assessment results to narrow down that original pool of applicants. We ended up with 20 qualified candidates at the phone screen stage. That means our engineers saved time too. They didn’t have to waste any time interviewing people who didn’t have the skills we needed!  

So we’re firm believers in ditching the resume. The key is adding a skill-verification step at the very top of the recruiting funnel. (Read more about how adding early skill verification makes it easier to find engineers that your hiring team will love.) To really save time and energy, we recommend using an automated assessment application like CodeSignal Recruiter Test. Test makes it easy to send out coding tests at scale, either from the CodeSignal Recruiter platform or from an integrated applicant tracking system. Then you receive comprehensive candidate results that help you cull out unqualified applicants immediately. Get on board – it’s time to kill the resume.

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

Want to break free from the resume time sink? Sign up for a free demo of CodeSignal Recruiter today and see how much time you can save!

Make Your LinkedIn Profile Work For You

If you were a small business owner and someone offered you a free billboard on the freeway, you’d take it in a heartbeat, right? Free advertising in a high traffic area! That’s a no-brainer – of course you’d want that.

And that, friends, is pretty much exactly what LinkedIn is: a free billboard for YOU.

Recruiters from tech companies are on LinkedIn all the time, plugging in keywords, looking for leads. The search interface makes sourcing on LinkedIn easy for them, so of course they use it. They’re looking for you! They want to give you a job!

So it just makes sense that you, whether you’re an active or passive job seeker, should also be on LinkedIn. Building your profile up into your own personal billboard makes it easy for all those searching recruiters to find you! It’s a hugely valuable tool that makes you visible and accessible to employers who are actively seeking candidates with the skill set that you have.

Fixing your LinkedIn profile can take a little bit of time, depending on how empty or out of date it is, but it’s totally worth it to spend some quality time putting it together. If you’re actively looking for new programming jobs or maybe just open to considering new options, LinkedIn is going to help you out.

Connie Kehn, Lead Talent Engineer at CodeSignal, sees a lot of LinkedIn profiles while she’s working with engineers who are using CodeSignal to find new jobs. And she used to be a recruiter for Tesla, so she knows what people on the other end of the equation are looking for too! She says, “Take advantage of your LinkedIn. It’s a free billboard space for you to talk about your strengths, your history, your skills, and what kind of work you’re looking for. Recruiters use that! When you’re on the hunt, build it up. You can always take it down later.”

So without further ado, here are CodeSignal’ top 10 tips for making your LinkedIn work for you!

  1. Fill out the entire profile. If you leave sections of your LinkedIn profile blank, not only are you missing out on opportunities to tell recruiters who you are and showcase what you’ve done, but you also might be hidden in searches. The LinkedIn platform actually prioritizes complete profiles! So if you’re not filling it out, your profile might not be surfacing in recruiters’ searches.
  2. Stand out with a good headline. Since this is one of the first things someone looking at your LinkedIn profile will see, make it count! Your headline should be descriptive and highlight your interests or specializations. Think specific, not general. And while you can get a little creative if you want to, don’t go overboard. The recruiter needs to be able to quickly decide whether or not you fit the bill. So a headline like Experienced Scala Wrangler Seeking New Pastures is eye-catching but still descriptive, while one like Programming Mermaid doesn’t really give a recruiter much of a sense of what you do. 
  3. Sum yourself up. Your summary should be 40 words or more in order to rank in searches, but don’t go overboard in the other direction either! If your summary is too long, pertinent information might get lost as recruiters skim through. Write in the first person about yourself (“I’m a web developer” vs “Janet is a web developer”), and keep your language natural! Use the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell.” Instead of saying that you’re enthusiastic about Python, be specific: “I taught myself Python two years ago and have been using it whenever possible ever since.”
  4. Add keywords. Whether recruiters are doing searches or already looking at your profile, they’re looking for certain, specific things. You can think of these as your own personal search keywords, and you should make sure that you’ve got these keywords in your Summary, Skills, Experience, Projects, and Recommendations sections. Obviously you don’t want to misrepresent yourself or try to do some keyword-stuffing that looks unnatural. But you do want to make sure that you’re showing up in the right searches! So if you’re looking for a job as a Rails developer but you don’t list Ruby or Rails anywhere in your profile, you may as well not be looking for a Rails dev job at all.
  5. Show off your work. Since you’re a smart engineer you will, of course, be adding a link to your GitHub from your LinkedIn (quite possibly in the Summary section). But remember, recruiters are skimming, and you want to make it easy for them to see what you’ve been working on! Add information about projects that you’ve done in – what else? – the Projects section. Make sure to include relevant details like languages, frameworks, and whether it was a solo project or something you worked on with other people. This is an easy way for the recruiter to get a better feel for your work. Not to mention all those keywords that you’re adding to the descriptions boost your chances of showing up in the right recruiter’s search!
  6. Show off your education! Remember how we said to fill out your entire profile? Yeah, that goes double for the Education section. Maybe you didn’t go to school for computer science or a related field. Or maybe you didn’t go to school at all. Not a problem! Chances are good that you’ve got some relevant coursework, certifications, or seminars under your belt that you could add to your profile. Recruiters like to see this because it’s a little confirmation for them that you’re qualified and competent enough to do the programming jobs they’re working on filling.
  7. Hide the competition. You know that sidebar on the right side of your LinkedIn profile that says “People also viewed” and has a list of other people? You’re going to want to hide that. Go to Settings, then Privacy, and change this to “No”. Because those other people that LinkedIn users are also looking at probably look a lot like you in terms of work or educational history and/or skills, meaning they show up in the same searches… meaning they’re the competition.
  8. Get endorsements. While you’re busy adding your own personal keywords to your Skills section, ask coworkers, classmates, clients, or acquaintances who are familiar with your work to endorse you for those skills. While this actually won’t rank you any higher in searches, it does give the recruiter who’s looking at your profile some very positive cues: Not only do you say that you know Sass, Emily who you worked with at your last company says you know Sass too!
    • Optional: Get recommendations. On a related note, it looks really good when you have recommendations from supervisors, clients, or teachers, especially if they reference specific projects you’ve worked on or things you’re really good at.
  9. Order your sections. By now, you’ve probably noticed that you can move the sections of your profile around. Use this to your advantage! If you just got out of school or you’re switching careers and you don’t have much work experience yet, move your Education and Projects sections up to the top. Been in the tech industry for ages? Keep your Experience section at the top.
  10. Personalize your URL. Which URL would you rather have a recruiter send to a hiring manager: linkedin.com/in/joe-cool-20a70070 or linkedin.com/in/josephcool? While this isn’t a make-or-break situation, having a good personal URL can give your profile an extra layer of professionalism and help build your personal brand.

Bonus: Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile picture blank! Recruiters respond to photos because it helps them create a more complete picture of a candidate in their minds. You don’t have to go get professional headshots unless you want to, but you should make sure that the photo is clear, well-lit, and work-appropriate (no bar-hopping pictures, please). And while you’re at it, add a banner picture too! It makes your profile look more professional, more complete, and more you. After all, what’s a billboard without an eye-catching image?

Doable, right? And once you’ve got your LinkedIn profile fully set up, it’s just a matter of upkeep: adding new jobs, certifications, and skills as you get them. Whether you’re actively looking for new tech jobs or just interested in seeing what comes your way, your personal LinkedIn billboard is a sure-fire way to make sure that recruiters see you for the talented, savvy programmer that you are.

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Resumes. Not fun, right? But they’re a necessary part of the job search process a lot of the time. Read Make Your Engineering Resume Stand Out to find out how to write a resume that really highlights your programming skills and experiences and makes you stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Once you’re on a company’s radar, there’s still a few steps before you make it to the in-person technical interview! First, you’re going to have to get past the recruiter phone screen. Read Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 1  to learn how to craft a personal elevator pitch that will resonate with recruiters. Then check out Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 2 for tips on how to wow the recruiter during the phone screen itself.

Tell us…

Have you ever found a job opportunity through LinkedIn? Have any great tips for making your LinkedIn profile stand out from other engineers’ profiles? Let us know on the forum!