CandE Research Takeaway #10: The Business Impact of the Candidate Experience

This is the final post in our 10-part “CandE Research Takeaways” series. The previous posts are available on our Articles page.

Job candidates who’ve had a negative experience with your company will take their alliances, product purchases, and business relationships elsewhere.

That’s not just a theory or an opinion. It’s a fact that candidates themselves have shared with Talent Board researchers year after year—and 2020 was no exception. (But we are attaching an asterisk to 2020. More on that below.)

It’s important to unpack everything implied in that opening sentence. First, a bad candidate experience will erode your employment brand’s reputation with individual candidates. Second, this brand erosion spreads exponentially when these candidates share their experiences with their networks, across social media, and in online review sites. Third, you’ll lose potential referrals and, arguably worse, future-fit and silver-medalist candidates who decide not to apply again as result of bad candidate experiences. And finally, if your business is consumer-based, you can wave goodbye to potential sales and revenues.

That’s a mighty high price to pay. Fortunately, the benefits you’ll reap from delivering a great candidate experience are as powerful as the consequences of delivering a negative one.

The Flip Side

Candidates who feel they’ve had a great overall experience with your company say they’ll increase their relationship with you even when you don’t hire them—meaning they’ll apply again, talk up your employment brand, refer others, and purchase your products or services. And this isn’t limited to finalist candidates alone. This includes the vast majority of job seekers, who never make it past the research and apply stages.

That last part should really grab your attention, especially now, with the global unemployment rate at its highest in three decades. With so many people looking for jobs, your company is likely being researched by more candidates than ever. Plus, you’re likely to have to turn away more candidates than ever for each of your open jobs. None of this is a problem, however, if you’re delivering a great candidate experience. Candidates will respect you and continue to interact with your brand, even when they’re rejected.

Then again, if your candidate experience is poor, your company is at greater risk now than it has been in years for all the same reasons I just mentioned.

Key Stats from 2020

Here are a few data points highlighting the business impacts of the candidate experience, taken from our 2020 CandE Research Report:

  • The percentage of candidates who had great experiences and were willing to increase their relationships with employers rose 24% in North America from 2019, 15% in Latin America, and 13% in EMEA.
  • 66% of North American candidates said they were likely to extremely likely to refer others based on their positive experiences. This figure was 80% in Latin America, 76% in APAC, and 75% in EMEA.
  • 77% of North American candidates said they shared their positive experiences, while 52% shared their negative experiences. These figures in APAC were 67% and 30%, respectively; in Latin America, 47% and 25%, respectively; and in EMEA, 37% and 21%, respectively.

Overall, these 2020 statistics were more positive than they’ve been during the past several years … which brings me to that asterisk I mentioned earlier.

Here’s the Catch with 2020*

Full disclosure: candidates were more forgiving of poor experiences in 2020. Much more forgiving. In every region we surveyed, for example, the percentage of candidates who had poor experiences in 2020 and were no longer willing to associate with employers actually decreased from 2019.

This was largely due to an extraordinary level of mutual empathy between employers and candidates, which stemmed from the challenges forced on all of us by the global COVID-19 pandemic. (You can read more about this unusual situation in my previous post.) Employers certainly can’t count on this same level of empathy from candidates in the months and years ahead.

To put it another way, don’t let the quality of your candidate experience languish. As our world gets back to normal, candidates’ expectations will too!

If you’re interested in learning how candidates honestly feel about your company’s candidate experience, join our 2021 CandE benchmark research program.


Be safe and well.

Kevin Grossman, Talent Board President

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