The Ultimate Guide to Mapping Your Own Candidate Journey

The Ultimate Guide to Mapping Your Own Candidate Journey

If you read my recent post on the Blue Rock blog, then you already know how important it is to have a clear, focused candidate journey.

In fact, it’s so important that a CandE research report shows that 78 percent of candidates with a positive experience will refer someone they know to your company.

And that same report found that 41 percent of candidates who have a poor experience will look somewhere else for their next job.

So, there’s no doubt that the candidate journey impacts whether a candidate accepts your job offer as well as your pipeline of future candidates.

And I’ll admit, that puts a lot of pressure on you to make sure your candidate journey is up-to-par.

But that’s where this post comes in handy.

candidate journey assistance

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to mapping a candidate journey that suits your company culture and gives your candidates the best experience possible.

1. Create a Candidate Friendly Application Process

Whether you’re deliberate about it or not, every company has a candidate journey.

And successfully mapping a good one starts with understanding where your current process falls short.

Now as I mentioned in my modern candidate journey definition post, the term “candidate journey” today encompasses everything from recruitment marketing to hiring.

recruiting vs recruitment marketing

(image source)

But for the sake of this post, I want to focus on what the talent acquisition team can control.

And that starts with the job application.

Because here’s a crazy stat for you:

A whopping 60 percent of candidates have quit an application because it took too long to complete.


So obviously, a short and simple application process is the way to go.

Focus on collecting only the information you need to determine whether you should screen a candidate by phone.

Job postings on LinkedIn make it easy for candidates to simply submit their LinkedIn profile (which is essentially a virtual CV, anyway) along with an email address and phone number.

apply on linkedin

It takes under 30 seconds for the candidate and your team gets immediate access to the candidate so you can reach out and schedule a phone interview or tell the candidate they’re not a fit.

And that last part is key: according to the CandE research report we mentioned above, 73 percent of candidates say they never received any communication after submitting an application.

Frankly, that’s unacceptable.

As a TA team, try to find a way to respond to every application that comes in.

If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your candidate journey right away, focus on the way you communicate with candidates.

Of course, depending on the volume of applicants, it may not be possible to deliver a personal message every time.

But luckily, most ATS platforms will automate this process for you.

(There are plenty of templates you can use to deliver the appropriate message.)

And if your ATS doesn’t include automated emails, you can use services like MailChimp to send mass messages efficiently.

Doing so contributes to this next step in candidate journey mapping:

2. Focus on the Relationship

A key piece of a great candidate journey is the relationship between recruiters and applicants.

A great talent advisor knows that recruiting is about more than sourcing and screening.

You should be the go-to resource for guidance and support to your candidates throughout the hiring process.

That’s because having someone internally they can trust will go a long way in enhancing the overall candidate journey.

Even if the candidate doesn’t get the job, “relationship recruiting” leaves a lasting, positive impact on your pipeline and future ability to attract top talent.

That ends up translating into some tangible benefits for you and your business:

candidate journey experience

(image source)

But it’s important to focus on the candidates who do actually move forward in your hiring process, too. That’s where this next step comes in:

3. Schedule Interviews Wisely and Provide Feedback

It’s one of the basic rules of hiring:

When you have a candidate you like, don’t let them linger.

First of all, there are a lot of costs associated with a slow time-tohire.

Biggest among them is losing your best candidates.

That’s why it’s so important to start the interview process as quickly as you can. Engagement is key from the very beginning.

Within 24-48 hours of a great application, you should have that candidate on the phone. That doesn’t necessarily mean a first interview, but even just calling to express your interest in their experience and set expectations for the interview process can do wonders for you.

Doing so has two big benefits for you:

First, it helps you build trust with candidates (which leads to more loyalty and a higher likelihood of the candidate moving forward in your process).

Second, it better prepares your candidates for their interviews. That means higher quality candidates and a better reputation for your TA team among internal hiring managers.

But of course, your job doesn’t stop once you’ve got the perfect interview process lined up.

Don’t forget about that communication.

After each round of interviews, call the candidate and let them know the feedback you received from the interviewer.

Workable writer Nikoletta Bika explains the importance of interview feedback in your candidate journey mapping:

“Giving feedback after an interview pays off in the long term. Candidate experience is a major factor to consider when building a competitive employer brand. Giving candidate feedback demonstrates that you go the extra mile as a potential employer. Candidates will appreciate receiving a rejection email. And they’ll be impressed that you’re taking the time to help them.”

So, whether the candidate is moving forward or not, it’s still important to provide them with appropriate feedback.

And, if the next round of interviews gets delayed, explain that to your candidates.

Updating candidates on your timeline is crucial to keeping them engaged and not losing them to another offer.

And speaking of job offers…

4. Be Transparent about Job Offers and Rejections

Obviously, offering the job to your candidate is the best outcome of your candidate journey mapping.

Unfortunately, we’re not always lucky enough to offer a job every time.

So, if you have to reject a candidate call them and tell them why they won’t be receiving an offer.

We know it’s easier to send a simple rejection email.

But calling them and explaining where they fell short and how they can improve will pay off in the long run.

(And make sure to sprinkle in some serious praise, too.)

It’s called a “rejection sandwich,” and it should be your best friend in talent acquisition:

how to reject a candidate

(image source)

While the candidate may be upset about not getting an offer, they’ll remember the phone call and speak highly of you to other potential candidates.

Now when a candidate does get the job, I think we can all agree that’s the fun phone call to make.

Call them and explain why you selected them, what impressed the interviewers, and what the next steps will be.

And don’t forget to celebrate.

You both went through this journey together and should enjoy the accomplishment.

But remember, the candidate may negotiate the offer.

And that’s okay.

In fact, just under 50% of candidates negotiate an offer, and most employers are willing to negotiate.

They are trying to do what’s best for them.

And you’re trying to do what’s best for your company.

Just prepare yourself and make sure you follow the right steps to a successful negotiation.

If you can’t budge on salary, there’s plenty of other benefits you can offer to meet their asks:

  • Vacation Time
  • Remote Work Options
  • Job Title
  • Allowances
  • Flexible Schedules

As Susan Heathfield explains in her article on The Balance Careers, a happy employer and a happy employee is the result of a successful negotiation:

“A salary negotiation window exists from the time you offer a job to a candidate until the acceptance of the job by your selected candidate. The results of this salary negotiation can leave a candidate feeling wanted by your organization or devalued. The results of this salary negotiation can leave the employer excited to welcome the candidate or feeling as if he lost. A positive employer and a positive employee are the results of a successful salary negotiation.”

Negotiations aren’t about winning or losing. They’re about both sides feeling valued and excited about the opportunity.

After a successful negotiation and an accepted offer, it’s time to close the loop on your candidate journey mapping.

5. Close the Loop on Their First Day

Just because the candidate has accepted the offer doesn’t mean the candidate journey is over.

Keep in touch with them until their start date and provide all the necessary information ahead of time.

And once they start, make sure you have a strong first-day orientation program built out.

first day excitement

Make sure someone greets your new employee when they walk in and they have people to meet and speak with throughout the day.

Because just as the candidate journey ends, the employee experience begins.


The candidate journey can impact if a candidate accepts your job and your future pipeline of talent.

So, make sure to take the time to map out your candidate journey and deliver a positive experience for all your candidates.

Like anything, it may not happen overnight.

But it will be worth the work.

And now you have all the steps to get started on your own candidate journey mapping today.

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