HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Candidate Journey

If you're lost in an unfamiliar city, what do you do? You probably ask for directions, all the while wishing you had some kind of guide. We should look at our candidates' journey in the same way. If you're prepared, you can hand the candidate a carefully mapped out route so they arrive at their destination and even enjoy the journey.

What Is a Candidate Journey?

A candidate journey is the set of experiences a job seeker goes through during the job-search process. These experiences start before the candidate submits an application. The candidate journey begins the first time a candidate experiences your brand.

Why Is the Candidate Journey Important?

The candidate journey is a series of experiences an applicant has whether a company is intentional about it or not. Having a proper understanding of the candidate journey enables employers and recruiters to shape it into a positive experience. In other words, the candidate journey is important in order to:
  • Attract candidates. The candidate journey starts the first time someone “touches” your brand. By understanding and shaping the candidate journey, you’re able to decide how a potential future employee perceives your company. Statistically, one’s impression of a company is one of the largest determining factors to whether or not they ever consider applying for a position. This even outweighs the importance of salary in the Millennial generation. Making sure your company is appealing, its culture is positive, and its mission inspiring opens up more candidates to the possibility of working with your company. The unavailability of the right skills and talents is the biggest threat to organizational success, so attracting the right candidates is more important now than ever.
  • Gather data. Having a mapped-out candidate journey enables you to get the right information to improve your company’s processes and pinpoint any areas that need troubleshooting.
  • Shape experience. The candidate journey happens whether you are intentional about it or not. This is an often overlooked and highly impactful time frame. Shape the experience—because the experience will shape the employee, for better or for worse.
  • Streamline the hiring process. With every step mapped out strategically, there’s little room for missteps. This allows the candidate to move through the entirety of the candidate journey unhindered by ambiguity.
  • Increase referrals. A natural result of an increased recruitment reach is an increase of candidate and client referrals.

Stages of the Candidate Journey

As in any journey, there are turns and pit stops one must take in order to reach the desired destination. A candidate journey (though metaphorical) is no different. Here are examples of pit stops a company may map out for their candidates.

Attract (First Touch)

Using passive recruitment strategies to attract talent is the first step to increasing your company’s reach. Perhaps your company’s social media page comments on a post that they commented on, shares content they shared, or maybe even sends a private message sharing an article about something you know they enjoy. What this doesn’t look like is immediately sending a potential candidate a private message with the goal to convince them to leave their current job to come work for you. The goal is not to poach them, but to simply keep your business’ name at the front of their mind. That way, when they are ready to look for work you’re the first place they think of. This drives engagement, which increases your reach. The stronger the reach, the more your company will get in front of the right people, whether they are actively seeking employment or not. From there, be it from their friend sharing a post from your company social media page, a paid ad for an open position, or something else, a potential applicant will experience their first touch. For more about passive recruitment, check out our articles on Social Media Recruiting, Employee Takeover, Facebook Recruiting and Instagram Recruiting.

Connect and Interact

If the first touch is impactful, the potential candidate will connect to your brand through purchasing your product or services, following your company on social media, or setting alerts for your company’s future job openings. Here the potential applicant interacts with the company, showing interest in possible employment. Conversely, the company can also interact with the potential applicant, showing that they might be a good fit for the organization.


If the prior steps were all influential in the right ways, when a job opening becomes available, your target audience of ideal applicants will be the first to apply.

Screening and Interviewing

Screening the applicant for qualifications begins the final stretch of a candidate’s journey. If the applicant passes the initial screening processes, they are then invited to begin the interviewing process.

Final Decision

Lastly, a decision is made to hire the applicant or to disqualify them for the position. This doesn’t have to be the end of their journey with your organization, however. Not every candidate who is rejected for a role is a bad fit for your company overall. Stay in touch by offering next steps, such as informing them when a different position opens up, or perhaps pointing them to a required certification so they can reapply.

How to Create a Candidate Journey

As the Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It is unquestionably in the best interest of your organization to make the path as smooth as possible. Here are the steps to take in order to create the journey brick by brick.

Step 1: Implement Attraction Strategy

The secret to an effective attraction strategy is to differentiate your company from the others in the same industry. Make your company stand out and showcase why it’s a good place to work. See here for a deeper dive into attraction strategies specific to social media).

Step 2: Brainstorm: Intentionally Map out Journey

From attraction to bringing on a new employee and beyond, map out the journey. The best place to start is by brainstorming what the perfect candidate journey looks like. Put yourself in a job seeker’s shoes. What are common frustrations you run into and how can you map your company’s journey to bypass them? Do your research to tighten up each “pit stop” with the aim to make each step efficient, succinct, informative, and as enjoyable as possible.

Step 3: Clean up Each Experience

Have you ever gone through your own hiring process? If your answer is no, that is where you need to start. According to this study, the average candidate spends three to four hours preparing and submitting just one job application Conversely, 70% of employers believe it takes candidates one hour or less to submit to complete their application process, and 72% of employers spend less than 15 minutes reviewing each application. It’s no stretch to see why this is a major common pain point for job seekers. The best thing you can do for your future employees is to walk the candidate journey for yourself from beginning to end. Are you incorporating what is important to your potential future employees, such as respecting the applicant’s time (all of their time), making communication active, and prioritizing the human element in your journey?
Kayla Farber

Kayla Farber

Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Applicant Auto-Rejection
Blind Resumes
Blind Screening
Boomerang Employee
Candidate Pipeline
Candidate Pool
Candidate Withdrawal
Career Gap
Contrast Effect
Cover Letters
Employment History
Functional Resume
Job Hopping
Passive Candidates
Qualified Applicant
Reference Check
Resume Screening
Superstar Candidate
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