Today’s candidates are making smarter decisions about what they want from an employer. They are diving deeper into job sites, career sites, and social media to get a clear picture of an organization before making a connection. They want to understand if the skills they have are the skills needed for the job. This more “informed candidate” brings significant benefits to organizations by improving efficiency and helping companies stay more strategic in the hiring process. And it is becoming clear that companies that want to successfully compete for talent need to embrace the informed candidate and manage their online brand to provide the most accurate and relevant information.

According to Aptitude research conducted in 2018, companies define the informed candidates as having the right information for an interview, the right skills for the job, and someone who has conducted his or her own research. When candidates know what to expect, recruiters are able to better meet those expectations and provide a positive experience. Last month, we published some new research on how companies can do a better job engaging the informed candidate. Here are some of the key findings and recommendations:

• Provide Accurate Information: Only 22% of companies communicate with candidates in a timely manner and much of the information provided is not accurate. In fact, only 32% of companies are confident that they know where they are advertising jobs to candidates. Companies need to pay close attention to the information they are providing candidates whether through advertisements, career sites, or even job descriptions. The more accurate and relevant the information, the more likely the candidate will be the right fit.

• Invest in Employer Branding: Thirty-eight percent (38%) of companies say that employer branding is still a significant barrier in the hiring process. In Aptitude Research Partner’s 2018 Hire, Engage and Retain study, companies identified employer branding tools as one of the top 3 most effective sources of hire for every position from executive level roles to hourly workers. Companies that invest in employer branding efforts are empowering the informed candidate with information that can help them through their journey. It gives them information about the company as well as relevant jobs.

• Manage Online Reputation: Candidates are doing their own research and companies should be involved in that process. Eighty percent (80%) of candidates have accurate information from companies that manage their online reputation compared to only 36% of candidates from companies that do not manage their online reputation. Managing an online reputation could include employer branding efforts, social media sites, as well as employee feedback sites. Candidates are 40% more likely to apply for a job at companies where they recognize the brand.

The key to building a successful candidate experience is understanding that it begins well before an individual is actually a “candidate”. It begins during the attract phase of talent acquisition when employers leverage a variety of channels and content to engage and inform both active and passive candidates early in the process. This experience begins when a candidate starts to gather information on a job or an employer.