January 27, 2021

At the peak-end of the day…

New Year tends to be the sort of occasion, like major birthdays or life events, that cause people to think about what they’ve achieved and what they’d like to achieve – to consider how the previous year made them feel. Understandably, like any rational human-being, my feelings about 2020 are complex to say the least. 

I started a new job just weeks before the biggest change in how people work in our lifetime happened. I put an offer in on my first house, which involved a second viewing through FaceTime. I spent/survived four months living with my mother-in-law. And who can forget when Boris cancelled Christmas just before Bill Bailey won Strictly?

That means I can remember feeling petrified, excited, nervous, despondent and ecstatic at various points along the way. But why can I remember those?

What is the peak-end rule?


Our feelings about events, especially as we get further away from when the event occurred, tend to be dominated by a psychological heuristic called the ‘peak-end rule’. Basically, we remember events based on how they feel at their most intense (living with my mother-in-law) and at their end (cancelling Christmas), rather than as a sum or average of everything that happened. There’s been interesting behavioural science research into it, involving some particularly grim sounding experiments with colonoscopies. 

It’s why high-end department stores and hotels have cheery people on the door on your way out, to ensure you leave their premises with a positive perspective. It’s probably the reason why Ryanair play that stupid jingle when they land on time – in the hope that it erases the previous hours of discomfort you’ve endured. 

What does it mean for employer brands and candidate experiences?


Which in a long winded way brings me round to what we do on a daily basis – build great, memorable employer brands. We all know that for most companies, the majority of people who apply for a role will be rejected, especially in a market with a surplus of candidates. 

All the investment is going in at the start, getting them in at the top of the funnel, without any consideration of what happens as they get filtered out along the way. We’re smashing the peak, developing phenomenal employer brands and recruitment marketing campaigns that really explain the purpose and explain the benefits of candidates. 

But in 2021, let’s commit to not forgetting about candidates’ feelings and try to not ruin things by neglecting the end. 

What can we do to improve that candidate experience at the end?


A great candidate experience isn’t built overnight. It’s a process of continuous testing and improvement. Here’s a few ideas as starting points, from the quick and simple to the detailed and complex:

  • Personalised feedback to help them grow and improve. 
  • Quality advice and content to help with their job search. 
  • Resources that allow them to learn more about the industry they’re interested in. 
  • Recommendations of other companies or schemes to apply for. 
  • Even just a really nicely worded, considerate, supportive message. 

All are ways to have candidates leave your application process with a positive experience of your employer brand to take with them to share in the outside world.

And beyond that, here’s to hoping that January 2021 isn’t the peak-end of the world.