Planting the Seeds of the Candidate Experience in Corporate America

A recap of the recent Talent Board Workshop in New Jersey.

On a warm sultry day in central New Jersey I drove down I-95 to New Brunswick just past the campus of Rutgers University and near the headquarters of iconic corporate brand, Johnson & Johnson, to attend a Candidate Experience Workshop run by Kevin Grossman and his team from the Talent Board.

Event Pictures

The Talent Board is non-profit organization focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience. Along with Gerry Crispin and other familiar faces we sat under tents on the immaculate grounds of an executive retreat house often used by J&J senior staff. The spread and hospitality was top notch.

The afternoon event was keynoted by Sjoerd Gehring, the VP of Talent Acquisition at Johnson & Johnson. He walked us through their hiring process which by now has become the envy of many TA leaders. Back in September of last year they launched an entirely new candidate experience called ‘Shine’ with the help of industry vendors Jibe, Google and The Muse.

The main point of Shine is to provide a consumer like experience to candidates of J&J throughout the entire recruiting process from apply to rejection. So when he took the job he set about hiring marketers, UI/UX people with digital skills to his team that had no previous recruiting experience. He really wanted to bring a fresh, consumer focus to their hiring strategy.

First he set the scene;

  • J&J gets 1.2 million applicants per year.
  • 30,000 job openings per year (4,000 of those in campus recruits)
  • 550 J&J Recruiters

They began surveying their candidates and what they said was this; there is a lack of transparency in the recruiting process.

So they reformulated their new strategy into three main themes;

  1. Manage their expectations: detail the steps and time it will take.
  2. Allow candidates to track their application in real-time.
  3. Make the candidate successful in the hiring process.

That last theme at first confused the J&J team. After digging further into the survey research they found out candidates wanted help with things like interview tips and other content to make them a better job seeker.  That’s where The Muse came in and provided over 80 pieces of content that candidates get throughout their Shine journey.

About 2 hours in to the afternoon the rain and thunder swept us inside to the executive residence which had a ‘White House’ type feel to it.

Kevin Grossman shared a lot of data throughout the day. We also broke out into different groups to talk about employer branding and communication for candidates. Some of my takeaways from those sessions are below.

  • 58% of candidates say the career site is the most important resource for them while researching an employer.
  • A bad candidate experience can affect your business overall as well as referral rates.
  • Rejection process counts: one employer gave away coupons to their rejected as thanks for applying.
  • Most likely to refer candidates are contractors, entry-level and hourly workers.
  • Send out your rejection emails 24-48 hours after. Not immediately.
  • Best Marketing content for your career site: your company values, employee testimonials.
  • More content like ‘what your hiring process is like’ is needed on company career sites.

More of the research can be accessed here. Subscribe to the RecTech podcast to hear some exclusive audio from the event as well to be published in the coming weeks.


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