Candidate Experience Recruitment Marketing

Managing the Candidate Experience During the COVID-19 Crisis

Man sitting at desk interviewing virtually during the COVID-19 crisis
Profile photo of Ashley Cheretes
Written by Ashley Cheretes

During the COVID-19 crisis, here’s how we can manage the candidate experience with thoughtful communication, empathy and transparency.

Managing the Candidate Experience During the COVID-19 Crisis
4.7 (93.33%) 12 votes

This is a really difficult time for all of us. Bad news seems to be piling on more and more every day, adding to the anxiety and stress associated with a health outbreak of this scale and magnitude.

I believe that empathy is essential as we go through this stressful experience together. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and imagining what they’re experiencing helps us to react to difficult situations with kindness and compassion.  

As HR and employer brand professionals, our job is to always “think like a candidate” or “think like an employee.” We have to take on their unique perspectives and anticipate their questions in order to support them with what they need, when they need it. This is especially true during times of uncertainty because this is when we’re needed most.

Here is some insight into the approach we’re taking to manage the candidate experience with empathy and transparency at my organization, Cigna, during the COVID-19 crisis.

A focus on candidate communications

A strong communications plan is always important for providing a positive candidate experience. However, communications become even more important during times of crisis and change. In the coming weeks and months, people will need even more transparency and clarity than usual. 

You can read more insights from the article, Coronavirus: Should Your Recruitment Marketing Change in a Crisis?

So, to address anxieties and deliver on a positive experience, we’re focusing on communicating the impact of COVID-19 on our business and hiring process clearly across many of the primary spots where candidates will interact with us, including our career site, social media and day-to-day interactions with recruiters. 

Here are some of my best tips for being successful with crisis communications: 

1. Partner with marketing

We have been partnering closely with our PR and marketing teams to make sure that the messages we’re publicizing about COVID-19 are being communicated consistently across different channels. Using the same types of content and consistent messaging across the board will ensure you come across sounding like one brand in your approach to this issue.

Here are other reasons why you should partner with marketing to achieve your Recruitment Marketing goals

Your marketing team might already have content prepared for communicating during a crisis that you can leverage in your candidate communications. For instance, our marketing team created a video with our Chief Clinical Officer informing the public about the implications of COVID-19.

2. Focus on communicating change and answering FAQs 

As mentioned before, while communications are always important, during a time of uncertainty it’s even more essential to communicate clearly to your candidates about what they can expect from you.

To do so, you should prepare and educate recruiters about changes in the hiring process and prep them to answer any questions relevant to the candidate experience that may come up. 

For example, traditional in-person interviews are already changing to virtual interviews and it’s crucial that recruiters communicate to candidates what to expect with these changes and provide resources to help candidates to excel during this time. One idea is to create a document that summarizes these changes along with the rationale and any candidate resources, so you can put your team in a great spot to communicate effectively with candidates.

Our organization’s careers social content is also focused on answering FAQs at the moment. Our team is creating social content that addresses pressing concerns so candidates can fully understand what to expect from our organization at this time.

Here’s an example of the social content addressing the candidate experience in response to COVID-19.

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3. Bring everything together: build a landing page 

You can also provide candidates with a central hub that they can reference on an ongoing basis. This could be a landing page that includes important messaging about candidate concerns, all common FAQs in one spot and other important changes that candidates should know. Below is a screenshot of the landing page that we have created for this purpose:

You can leverage your social media channels to direct candidates to this central hub and/or include a link to this landing page right on the homepage of your career site. In our case, we’ve done both to make it easy for candidates to discover this content. When we were building this page, we harvested FAQs that candidates were already asking about COVID-19. We also did some social listening to see what candidates were asking.

We plan to regularly update the page with the additional questions we receive. A regularly updated landing page allows your organization to communicate important information and changes to the candidate experience. Our goal is to inform candidates so they feel a sense of calm when it comes to the status of their application — which will be strongly appreciated at a time when there are so many uncertainties elsewhere.

An example of Cigna's career site in response to COVID-19

Cigna’s career site features a regularly updated landing page with timely information and changes to the candidate experience due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Leading with empathy

I think what it really boils down to at the moment is examining your hiring process, considering which changes make sense given the unique situation that we all face, and then communicating these changes as much as possible to your recruiters and candidates alike. If you focus on your candidates and their wants and needs at this time and lead with empathy and transparency in your communications and content, then you won’t go wrong. 

I hope this article has been helpful as we all try to navigate this new and changing environment. I’d love to hear how you’re creating a positive candidate experience during these difficult times. Reach out to me on Twitter, @AshleyCheretes

Managing the Candidate Experience During the COVID-19 Crisis
4.7 (93.33%) 12 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Ashley Cheretes

Ashley Cheretes

Ashley Cheretes is the Head of Employer Brand and Recruitment Marketing for Cigna, a global health services company. Ashley has a passion for convincing big brands that recruiting is a sales and marketing game that they can win. She previously worked for ADP and Avis Budget Group.

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