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2022 CandE Report Takeaway #5: The Application Stage Delivers a Very Limited Yet Critical Candidate Experience

As Talent Board’s 2022 candidate experience benchmark research shows, there’s a significant disparity in how efficiently North America’s TA teams are dispositioning applicants.

The highest-rated companies in our research (CandE Award winners) are dispositioning candidates within three to five days after application. The longest they ever take is one to two weeks. More widely, however, TA teams aren’t moving as swiftly: 34% of candidates in 2022 reported not hearing back from employers two months after they applied, up 48% from our 2021 research findings. Only 58% said they received an automated “thank you” message. And a mere 7% said they’d been given the courtesy of hearing they didn’t get the job they applied to.

What makes these statistics particularly discouraging is that more employers than ever are using automation technologies to strengthen and streamline the application process (and, indeed, the entire recruiting process). Thanks to these technologies, recruiters can easily handle increased volumes of applications and better manage the administrative side of the process. Plus, automated communications can be triggered at various disposition stages, and applicants can be notified of their status and connected via the ATS, CRM, and recruitment marketing systems.

So the fact that more than a third of candidates are still waiting after two months to hear about their application status seems like a major—and fixable—issue. And it really should be fixed ASAP because a well-orchestrated application process not only raises the overall quality of a company’s candidate experience, its perceived fairness, and the resulting ratings from applicants, but it also boosts the odds that qualified and future-fit candidates will remain in that company’s talent pipeline, particularly when they’ve been rejected for a role.

Bottom line, disposition time is a powerful competitive differentiator among employer brands.

Closure Counts

Employers who take longer to disposition candidates post-application—waiting, for instance, until their job requisitions are filled—are risking a spike in negative sentiment among candidates, as well as lowering their overall perception of the fairness of their experience. This is a tough spot for employers because, on average, most applicants simply aren’t qualified for the job, and the length of time dispositioning takes doesn’t typically have a direct impact on fairness. But the candidate experience is a subjective one, and efficient dispositioning conveys respect for your applicants while also increasing their belief that you’ve treated them fairly. In short, closure counts.

So do little things like:

  • Letting candidates know roughly how long the application process will take (only 23% of candidates were told last year).
  • Offering a progress indicator to candidates as they work through their application (provided to just 33% of candidates last year).
  • Enabling text-based applications; when candidates launched an application from a text in 2022, their 4- and 5-star ratings (out of a possible 5) increased 86%.
  • Integrating a chatbots into your application process; when applicants were able to ask a chatbot questions, their 4- and 5-star ratings also increased roughly 85%.

All of these things can raise applicant satisfaction levels and add perceived fairness to your application process.

Asking applicants for feedback is another great way of doing both. As Talent Board has reported time and again, asking for and giving feedback are hallmarks of the highest-rated candidate experiences worldwide year after year. Unfortunately, in 2022, only 35% of candidates were invited to give feedback at this stage.

You can download our complete 2022 benchmark research report here. In it you’ll find a wealth of ideas for improving your company’s candidate experience and engaging the best talent. I’ll share another of the report’s Top 10 Takeaways soon.

Participate in the 2023 CandE Benchmark Research Program!

Be safe and well.

Kevin W. Grossman, Talent Board President

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