The Ideal Applicant Journey in 3 Steps: Use Hiring Psychology Like a Pro

applicant journey
Avatar photo

Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

What is applicant journey mapping?

The process of creating a graphical representation or map of a job applicant’s journey. It depicts what the applicant experiences through each stage of the recruiting process.

What is an applicant persona?

A semi-fictional description of your company’s ideal job applicant. 

Both of these methods are components of hiring or recruiting psychology.

Why should you use these techniques to improve your applicant process?

  1. It’s becoming more difficult to find quality employees
  2. A favorable applicant journey improves quality-of-hire
  3. An effective applicant journey improves company brand

What factors have altered the employment landscape?

  1. Millennials are now the largest employee demographic
  2. Unemployment has decreased substantially
  3. Employment patterns have changed
  4. Small companies can compete more effectively
  5. There are skills shortages in emerging industries
  6. Businesses have less control over their online reputation

Are you recruiting like you did ten years ago? This will inhibit growth and lower your chances of success.

Employers Haven’t Responded to the Big Shift

The advantage has shifted from the employer to the job candidate. If your recruiting practices are still company-centric, you will continue to struggle. Hiring will get more difficult.

Consider this:

Only 28% of millennials plan to stay at their job longer than five years.

This means you are starting at a disadvantage with the largest employee demographic. Think about that. When you hire a millennial, they already have low expectations.

It’s critical to raise their expectations. A so-so applicant journey will confirm their perceptions.

The Applicant Journey Influences Your Company Brand

Applicants, employees, and customers interact with your company. Each group shares their experiences online and offline. They don’t exist in separate worlds. A poor applicant journey reinforces a negative brand or reputation.

Successful companies take a holistic approach. They value their applicants and employees as much as they value their customers. Neither exists in a vacuum. Your applicants and employees are also customers.

An applicant who has a negative experience will probably never be a customer. They will discourage others from applying.

Dissatisfied employees also discourage people within their spheres of influence. As we all know, spheres of influence continually expand.

What Can You Do To Create The Ideal Applicant Journey?

Now that we’ve established that old processes don’t work, it’s time to start from scratch.

Any sized company can use hiring psychology. Don’t let the term ‘psychology’ intimidate you.

Follow these steps to create or improve your applicant journey.

Step 1: Create An Applicant Persona

This is representation of a quintessential employee. Not just an ideal applicant, an ideal employee.

How do you identify these elements? Look at your best employees. They may not seem similar at first glance. But they share traits that help them thrive in your culture and their job roles.

Talk to team leads throughout your organization. Conduct ‘stay interviews’ with high-performing employees. Identify their characteristics and what motivates them.

Here are elements in an applicant persona:

  • Biography: Address, education, job title, personality traits
  • Goals: Desired career path, personal ambitions
  • Benefits: What benefits are important to them?
  • Challenges: Why are they looking for a new job? Why are they unsatisfied in their current position?
  • Job Search Process: What avenues and tools do they use? What online sources do they consult to research your company? Who do they talk to?

Go into more detail than you believe is necessary. You may need several personas if you have diverse job roles.

IMPORTANT COMPLIANCE NOTE: Don’t let your applicant persona introduce bias into your hiring process. The point is to improve the experience for the job applicant. For example, your applicant persona may include age if you think it’s relevant. But you can’t discriminate based on age when you hire. Use the fictional lifestyle details to identify and respond to your applicant’s needs. Be especially mindful of protected classes.

Step 2: Map The Applicant Journey

You can’t disrupt your process if you can’t see your process. An applicant journey map portrays the process graphically. The point is to understand it from the applicant’s perspective.

Stages of the Applicant Journey

If you’ve mapped your customer journey, you know the stages or elements. They are only slightly different for a job applicant.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Interest
  4. Application
  5. Selection
  6. Hire

Touchpoints in the Applicant Journey

What are the touchpoints in the journey? A touchpoint is an interaction between the applicant and your company.

They could include some or all of the following:

  • See your job posting on a job board
  • Visit your careers page
  • Visit your corporate Facebook page
  • Check employee reviews on Glassdoor
  • Talk to a recruiter at a career event
  • Fill out an application
  • Send their resume
  • Receive confirmation email
  • Fill out questionnaire
  • Receive telephone call to schedule interview
  • Come to your office for an interview or have video interview
  • Receive ‘Thank you for interviewing’ email or phone call
  • Receive job offer
  • Accept job offer

Step 3: Determine The Applicant’s Needs

Identify the job candidate’s needs at each stage in the journey. In the customer journey, these are sometimes called pain points. Use your applicant persona.

Their needs will vary depending upon the position. A student applying for a part-time customer service position has different needs than a 45-year-old applying for an executive-level position.

Walk your applicant through the journey. Flesh out what takes place with each touchpoint or interaction. Do this several times. Solicit feedback from everyone on the hiring team. Talk to current employees.

Now you have the tools to remake your recruiting process. The formula looks like this:

Applicant persona + applicant journey + applicant needs = effective recruiting strategy.

Applicant journey mapping will help you:

  • Create highly-targeted job descriptions
  • Identify the most effective recruiting channels
  • Tailor communications to your ideal applicant
  • Eliminate redundant steps
  • Provide multiple avenues of communication

Hiring Software is a Must-Have If You Want To Improve The Applicant Journey

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is the best tool to improve your applicant journey.

  • Create a strategy based on applicant journey mapping
  • Set up hiring workflows in your ATS: job postings, communications, filtering, interviews
  • Automate 90% of workflows
  • Measure hiring outcomes and adjust as necessary

Do you want to start improving your applicant journey today?

WorkforceHub ApplicantStack Tracking is ahead of the curve in the recruiting industry. Our web-based hiring software was designed by recruiting professionals. You don’t need to sign a contract. You don’t need help from your IT team.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

5 Hints for Crafting a Candidate Pitch to Use in Hiring

June 7, 2024
Posted in

Finding the right person to fill an open role in your company can be challenging. Once you identify them, you might still need to sell them on your organization. The latest generation of workers wants to feel that the company they work for aligns with their values and allows them to make an impact. Therefore,…

Read More

All About Pay Transparency (With a Roundup of State Laws)

May 17, 2024
Posted in ,

Pay transparency laws are becoming more prevalent across various states and cities in the U.S., leading employers to reevaluate their job listings. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about pay transparency. We outline the definition, objectives, and compliance with laws, as well as define how WorkforceHub can support these requirements. What is…

Read More

WorkforceHub takes care of business.

We’ll show you how.

Request a Demo - Footer Form

Looking for help? Please click here.

brand - dots