Mental health and the candidate experience

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and with the month coming to a close, we’ve been thinking about how employers can support the mental health of their candidates. While there is a lot written about mental health and the employee experience, there has been less focus on job seekers and the struggles they can face in finding a new job.

At Dalia, we put the candidate first. We talk with job seekers a lot to get a true understanding of the issues they’re facing. We hear their joy when they find a new job, but also their pain, frustration and depression that can result when they are not having luck in their search. In its most recent Job Seeker Nation Report, Jobvite reported that mental health struggles are a stressor for 38% of job seekers.

NAMI has resources for becoming a stigma-free company

While some of the emotional challenges of the job search are unavoidable, what we hear most are aspects that employers can actually address and improve. Here are some takeaways from our own experiences helping job seekers at Dalia that you can use to better support your candidates’ mental health:

#1 – Be considerate in your language when taking interview notes
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) talks about using stigma-free language, and this extends to notes entered in your applicant tracking system (ATS) about candidates. Terms like “crazy,” “lunatic” and “wacko” carry a stigma and are disrespectful of people with mental health conditions. Setting a high standard for your interview notes helps eliminate the stigma and builds empathy with those who might be struggling, and is a great foundation for a positive candidate experience.

#2 – Keep candidates updated on their status
This is a big one, because when job seekers don’t know where they stand with an employer, that uncertainty can cause stress and grief, and even add to existing depression. In the Jobvite report, the number one negative candidate experience reported by job seekers (48%) was lack of response from an employer. The good news is that most ATSes support the ability for candidates to check their status, but many employers don’t turn it on, or don’t surface it on their career sites. It can be an easy win to activate this or to ask your ATS provider if it’s a feature they offer. As a best practice, we really like pages like these from Sodexo, Compass Group and Sunrise Senior Living where they document the hiring process and share how a job seeker can check their candidate status.

#3 – Review your candidate rejection process and wording
So many employers struggle here, because it can be hard to reject every candidate you speak with, yet “ghosting” is one of the most common and painful job search experiences. As a best practice, commit to using templated rejections for candidates up to a certain point in your hiring process (phone screen, for example) and personalized rejections for candidates beyond that point (interview and later, for example). Then take a hard look at your templates to make sure they are supportive, empathetic and without stigmatized language. “We’ll keep your resume on file” is not enough – are you providing real support and resources to help candidates truly find other opportunities at your company or at other companies?

About Dalia and how we can help
At Dalia, we are committed to helping job seekers stay connected to the brands they care about, while helping employers hire more efficiently by removing friction points in the process. We focus on giving job seekers an easy way to express interest outside of clicking apply, which improves the candidate experience, as well as conversion rates, candidate quality and job advertising ROI. As part of that work, we get a lot of feedback about the ups and downs of the job search experience, and are using that data to keep making it easier to find a job. If you’re interested in upgrading your own candidate experience, please get in touch!

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