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Mapping the Moments that Matter
A Timeline of the Candidate Experience

Do you understand all the ways that candidates can interact with your employer brand, and with your recruiting strategy?

Every candidate journey is different; however, there are several ways AI and programmatic technologies can impact key touch points of the candidate experience that happen during the intervals between interest, conversion, Day One and beyond. Here are some of the best candidate experience highlights:

Did You Know?


of employees say the candidate experience impacted their decision to join their current company


of jobseekers bypass careers websites and go directly to the job description


of candidates abandon the apply process at the “20 questions” threshold


candidate experiences were tracked in 2019 by SymphonyTalent

Learn More About Candidate Experience Solutions



The Steps of the Candidate Experience



How do candidates become interested in an organization, what it offers and what’s in it for them? It starts with an awareness of the employer brand – irrespective of whether they’re a good fit for a role. Awareness comes via many channels – from an organization’s employer reputation found on review sites such as glassdoor, to social media channels, outdoor and experiential advertising, radio – even word-of-mouth. In short, the candidate journey is different for everyone - and studies show that it takes 12-18 touchpoints for a candidate to convert to an applicant. 

Media is what gets candidates into your organizations employer brand experience, and it’s up to you to manage it. Few employers know which channels produce the best candidates at the lowest cost because they don’t track the outcomes, so they end up “posting and praying”. This is where programmatic job advertising can be a strong ally.

Programmatic job advertising takes the guesswork out of planning and activating an awareness-building media strategy. You’ll know exactly where your candidates are interacting with your message – and what they did while there. This initial step is also an opportunity to capture basic information to move the journey to the next stage.

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Careers Website

Whether they arrived via a posting on a job aggregator, your Facebook careers page, a referral from a friend or countless other on and offline channels, the careers website is the candidate’s initial “hello” and first impression of your organization. So are they impressed?

Careers websites provide endless opportunities for personalizing the candidate experience by leveraging AI-enabled technologies to serve everything from customized home pages and job descriptions to invitations to join talent communities, relevant video content and job alerts when and where they’re most likely to see them.

AI and machine learning can also help you reach out through automated recruitment marketing (such as emails and chats) and along the way they can automatically build a base of candidate information that will deepen the relationship at every touchpoint.

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Job Description

With up to 70% of candidates reaching the job description directly from an aggregator or job board, their journey often begins right here. You can no longer assume that the Careers website is the “front door” to the candidate experience. Therefore, personalization at the job description level is very important.

The modern job description page generally leverages a combination of machine learning-driven application program interfaces (APIs) and search results to make the experience highly relevant and targeted. Candidates see a personalized job description page that already “knows” their name, what they’re interested in learning about (beyond just the role and requirements) and recommends similar roles for which they’re qualified. They are given a glimpse into the organization’s culture via videos, day in the life’s, and other tools – and are immediately more engaged. 

Here’s a look at how a best in class career website leverages personalization:

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Application Process

Approximately 74% of all candidates drop off during the application process. Much of this can be attributed to a lack of seamlessness between the highly personalized careers website and/or job description experience and the application itself. This is because most organizations rely on a templated, vendor-based solution which can look and feel impersonal and generic.

At this stage about 36% of those who initially express some interest in the role move forward with an application. Best-in-class organizations streamline the process as much as possible and use AI and machine learning platforms to make applying as personalized and engaging. A great way to decrease the application dropoff rate is by making it mobile and “checkout style,” much like a shopping cart on a retail consumer site.

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SMS and Texting

Because of their immediacy, texts and chatbots are quickly becoming a preferred channel of communication, particularly among millennial and Gen-Z candidates.

Traditional one-on-one text messaging is direct and personal - ideal for nurturing relationships with one or two top candidates. Automation lets recruiters communicate to a much larger audience and when carefully, can effectively mimic the feel of a one-on-one conversation. It is an especially useful strategy for promoting a job fair or recruiting event or when it’s necessary to quickly engage with a specific group of job-seekers, such as seasonal help.

Conversational Talent Marketing is just one example of meeting candidates when and where they prefer. Here's a sneak peek at our webinar on demand to see how this fits into the larger talent marketing strategy:

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The Wait

Perhaps the most anxiety-ridden step in the journey, the decision-making process often includes a gap in what has, up to this point, been a consistent and nurturing journey. From a candidate’s perspective, if they’re not informed about the length or steps involved in the organization’s decision-making process, they can lose interest and “ghost” the organization.

It is extremely important to nurture candidates throughout the waiting period and ensure them they are still progressing toward the next step along the journey. Organizations that allow the wait to extend beyond 10 days have a much higher chance of losing a candidate to an opportunity with another company. 

This is where organizations can leverage talent marketing automation to keep their candidates engaged. Using automated email and SMS cadences frees up recruiters’ time to do what they do best: make connections and build relationships,while keeping other quality candidates engaged during the selection process.

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The ATS Black Hole

Though not strictly candidate-facing, the ATS Black Hole is an obstacle that prevents many great candidates from moving forward in their journey toward a career with a best-in-class-employer.  Applicant Tracking Systems and Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) software capture a wealth of valuable data. However, it is spread across different, disconnected platforms, making data difficult to interpret or act upon. Recruiters can lose or overlook valuable information and the candidate quickly falls off the radar.

Best-in-class candidate experience solutions like Symphony Talent’s SmashFlyX bring all this information together onto a fully-integrated, single platform. Armed with actionable and easily-interpreted in data, recruiters are able to build a talent pool of candidates for immediate and future needs. Recruiters can use programmatic media to initiate relevant conversations with best-fit candidates immediately – and automatically maintain relationships with other potential hires down the road.

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Day One and Beyond

After a hire is made, the employer brand essentially deepens into the real-world of employee experience. However, this is not the end of the candidate experience, since a third of new hires quit their jobs within 90 days. This is often because the experience they enjoyed as candidates hasn’t followed through in the workplace.

During orientation and onboarding, the employer brand’s key promises, tone and voice must be carefully maintained and reinforced.  New hires should never feel buyer’s remorse their first day on the job. Their Day One is special and should be seamlessly integrated with all their prior interactions with your organization and EVP. New hires need to meet their peers and colleagues, and be networked within the organization so that they can build relationships and feel valued.

It is at this point they can become a real ally to your candidate experience – as advocates for the organization they just joined.

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Moments That Matter exhibit by Symphony Talent

Moments That Matter Exhibit

Moments That Matter is the first-ever experiential exhibit for talent acquisition leaders to walk through the candidate experience. Symphony Talent's innovative subject matter experts in employer branding and candidate experience solutions came together to build the exhibit that debuted this past January at Talent Acquisition Week in San Francisco.


Our Candidate Experience Library

We’ve only touched upon the many different aspects that can impact the journey from Awareness to Advocacy. Here are a few more links to information you can use right now to make the journey more pleasant and productive for everyone involved.

Connect with a Candidate Experience Expert