Adopt and Adapt These Next-Level Recruiting Strategies from 2020’s Top 10 CandE Winners


That’s the word I used to describe this year’s 61 global CandE Award-winning companies when we announced them in October. I didn’t use that word lightly either. Looking back over all the disruptive change in 2020, how you could not be inspired by these companies? I mean, who plans for a pandemic?

Facing a year filled with unprecedented challenges, the CandE winners never took their eye off improving their candidate and employee experiences. They remained committed to a delivering a model candidate experience to external and internal candidates alike with a level of empathic communication we haven’t seen, even as they dealt with a pandemic, economic turmoil, unpredictable shifts in recruiting and hiring priorities, and the need to quickly implement new approaches to keeping their businesses moving forward and keeping their people safe. You can’t get much more inspiring than that.

In fact, if you need a little inspiration on how to improve your company’s candidate experience, the Top 10 North American CandE Winners of 2020 are a perfect starting point. They’re using some very definite strategies to deliver winning candidate experiences and garner positive reviews.

Start at the Top (The Top 10, That Is)

Before we get to these strategies, I want to share the names of the Top 10 (the 10 North American companies with this year’s highest-rated candidate experiences):

  1. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
  2. D2L
  3. ICIMS, Inc.
  4. Optum
  5. Sharp Healthcare
  6. PointClickCare
  7. Colorado Springs Utilities
  8. Inspire Brands
  9. Billtrust
  10. Johnson & Johnson

Drawing from our 2020 CandE benchmark research, which you’ll be able to download yourself in early January 2021, here are five strategies from the Top 10 CandE Winners that can significantly elevate your candidate experience:

  1. Align recruiter performance with candidate experience. Nine of the Top 10 do this; more broadly, only about 6 out of every 10 North American employers do. Don’t get me wrong, 60% of all employers in North America is a good thing—but it does show there’s plenty of room for improvement.
  2. Conduct structured interviews. Structured interviews help to level the playing field among all candidates (which can have a major impact on how fairly your employment brand, company culture and more are perceived), and can provide more accurate assessments – 7 of the Top 10 utilize them. For about one-third of North American employers in general, structured interviews remain an untapped area of opportunity.
  3. Establish and honor follow-up dates. Without question, one of the best things you can do to lift the quality of your candidate experience—not to mention the ratings/reviews you receive—is to make sure your recruiters and/or hiring mangers follow up with finalist candidates. In fact, when they do so, there’s a 50% rise in their “great experience” ratings from candidates. Indeed, 9 of the Top 10 CandE winners establish follow-up dates with finalists and stick to them consistently, while only about half of all North American employers do the same.
  4. Survey all finalists. Six of the Top 10 CandE winners survey all finalists about the quality of their overall experience; this number drops to roughly 4 out of 10 for all employers in North America. It’s worth noting that, while the other four Top 10 CandE winners don’t conduct a survey, they do formally review any feedback they receive.
  5. Provide feedback to finalists. This is a clear point of differentiation among employment brands. Every one of the Top 10 CandE winners provides feedback to finalist candidates, while only 40% of all North American employers do. Over the years, Talent Board’s research has clearly shown that all (not just finalists) candidates appreciate feedback. They want to know how they’re being perceived and what they can improve for future interviews. Employers who offer these insights always see a positive jump in their candidate ratings. More specifically, employers who offer candidates feedback on job fit see a 15% bump in ratings that say they provide a “great experience,” and those that offer feedback on assessments conducted see a 20% bump in “great experience” ratings. (Pro tip: the best feedback you can offer rejected candidates is a recommendation on what they should do next since you’re not going to pursue them. Obviously, the specifics will depend on the individual, but recommendations can take many forms such as indicating which skills to sharpen, additional schooling or training they might pursue, other jobs to look into, or even other employers they should consider.)

You might have noticed that most of these strategies pertain to interactions with finalist candidates, who are often considered future-fit or high-potential candidates for other jobs, so it’s no surprise the focus is on them. However, these same strategies apply to all candidates, and the more widely you implement them, the greater potential positive impact they’ll have on your ratings and the overall perception of your employment brand.

What Do the Candidates Say?

A great candidate experience has a number of critical outcomes including making candidates more willing to engage with a brand (which is important to all brands but absolutely vital to a consumer brand) and imparting a higher level of perceived fairness to that brand.

We asked candidates about several other impacts of their experiences with the Top 10 CandE winners including:

  • How likely it is that they would apply to other jobs. Averaged across the entire Top 10, 91% of the responses were “likely” or “extremely likely.” Compare that to only 76% of all companies – an 18% difference.
  • How likely it is that they would refer other people to these companies. 90% of the responses were “likely” or “extremely likely” (averaged). Compare that to only 78% of all companies – a 14% difference.
  • What kind of relationships would they want to have with the Top 10 after their recruiting and hiring experiences (job-related exchanges, brand affinity, influencing purchasing decisions for consumer-based companies). 75% of the responses were “pretty good” or “great” (averaged). Compare that to only 60% of candidates from all employers – a 22% difference.

The above differences can be significant, especially when your company is competing for the best people across critical job requisitions – or any job for that matter.

Again, these are just some of the positive impacts of a great candidate experience. They’re also just some of the insights you can glean from this year’s Talent Board research. Remember to download your copy of our global 2020 CandE benchmark reports in January 2021.

In the meantime, you can learn more about how CandE Award winners are chosen here, and dive into the challenges of sustaining a great candidate experience here.

And there’s still time to join us this week November 18-19 for the 2020 CandE Awards Virtual Conference — our 10th anniversary — where we’ll elevate and celebrate the empathic best we’ve worked hard to be, some pretty amazing speakers and sessions, and the companies around the world who have again raised the bar on improving the candidate experience. 

Be safe and well.

Kevin Grossman, Talent Board President

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