Let’s Make A Positive Candidate Experience #1

Number 7

At least it came in 7th in the top 10. It was only 5% of the over 10,000 candidate comments and sentiment from the 2020 Talent Board candidate experience benchmark research, but saying they had a positive experience still came in 7th. These were comments and sentiment associated with three key ratings we ask each year:

  • How likely are you to apply again (at this employer) based on your experience?
  • How likely are you to refer others (to this employer) based on your experience?
  • Based on your experience, how likely are you to change your relationship status (with this employer)?

We are still collecting candidate feedback for the 2021 CandE program, and there’s still time to participate, so we’ll have to wait and see what differences there are if any when we fully analyze this year’s data later in the year. 

Considering that over 90% of the hundreds of thousands of candidate experience survey responses we receive each year are candidates who did not get hired, it’s not unusual that only 5% stated they had a positive experience. Interestingly enough, hourly candidates, experienced professional technology candidates and management candidates made up a big portion of that 5%. 

The rest of the top 10 listed here aren’t all that surprising either.

In Defense of Job Candidates and Employers

In defense of every job candidate, the lack of communication and feedback we see every year in our research always makes for a bleak experience. Except for those companies we give awards to that have above average candidate experience ratings, it’s usually a marginal to poor communication experience year after year.

In defense of every employer, the majority of candidates external or internal interested in any given job and anytime aren’t going to get that job. Except for those screened and interviewed, over 60% of job candidates never make it past the application process according to our research. Recruiting is in the business of no and that’s a reality for companies big and small across industries. 

Which brings us to the number 1 candidate comment/sentiment list above: It was an unfair experience – application not taken into account despite being experienced. This was 42% of the comments/sentiment, the highest and the only double-digit percentage in the top 10. This is an uphill battle for most candidates, and employers, too. 

Consider the subjectivity that’s inherent in this sentiment. With the exception of being a serial applicant, most candidates who are truly interested in any given job at any given time on any level want to believe they’re the most qualified. Or, at least in the running. And even those who try and network into the organization and/or get referred, or if they’re sourced directly because they’re sought after, still doesn’t guarantee they get the job. 

But for the rest of job candidates who apply directly, it is a long and lonely road, with little to no response. Or, a very short and vague one, depending on how responsive the company is. It can be compounded by adding tests and assessments to the application process, with little to no feedback about the test and assessment. One anonymous comment we just received in this year’s data collection was as follows:

I completed and passed your assessment and I never heard anything back. I also never got any feedback after that and was curious as to if they are still hiring? Thank you and I’m looking forward to your response!

At least it’s upbeat and positive. And for companies with any hiring volume at all, even with applications being down these days, matching and screening technologies have to be depended on. Which means little to no human interaction for the majority of candidates, autoresponders for those who won’t be moving along, and no feedback, at all, for those job applicants. This automation will be the most interaction these unqualified job candidates will ever receive, no matter how qualified they think they are. We control the dials, however; we control the timeliness of communications and what they say. 

The Frenetic Place We’ve Never Been

Hiring is ramping, yet new hires aren’t happening and employees are quitting. And we’re all just trying to figure out what to do next. This varies across industries, but it’s happening. The empathetic communication and positive candidate experience that increased in 2020 due to COVID-19 and more seems to be waning now. Candidate resentment, candidates telling us they’ll never do anything again with an employer based on a poor candidate experience, is already up 50% and closer to pre-covid levels. When we were in a growth market and unemployment was the lowest in decades. 

Maybe it is too much of an uphill battle. Especially when hiring ramps frenetically and we’re struggling to hire and retain. Sustaining a quality candidate experience is hard work when the majority of job seekers just won’t get very far. 

At Talent Board, we’d argue that you can make a difference. Your company can and should make it a priority and continuously deliver a quality candidate experience whatever the world looks like. Again, you control the technology dials, your processes, your communications, your requisition load per recruiter, your overall staffing and related hiring resources. You control it all, so let’s make a positive candidate experience #1. We see how it can positively impact brand affinity, referrals and the business bottom line every year. 


Be safe and well,

Kevin Grossman, Talent Board President

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