New Research Reveals Why Candidates Are Abandoning Your Recruiting Process

By Kevin Grossman – Published February 23, 2022 on

With the nation’s labor shortage showing no signs of abating, talent acquisition teams are under enormous pressure to keep qualified candidates from abandoning their recruiting process prematurely. This is becoming a difficult challenge, as job seekers are increasingly demanding roles that enable them to work on their own terms.

The first step that many TA teams have taken to combat candidate abandonment is streamlining, simplifying, and shortening their application process. While this has chipped away at abandonment rates, studies continue to peg them north of 65% at many organizations.

The fact is that significant numbers of candidates drop out at every stage of the recruiting process, not just during application. A CareerBuilder survey, for example, showed 31% of employers lose candidates during background screenings, and research from the professional social network Blind found that nearly 30% of candidates abandon potential employers during the interview stage.

New data from Talent Board’s 2021 Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report shows that regardless of the stage at which candidates voluntarily exit, they do so for a few key reasons. Topping this list of reasons in North America are:

  1. Their time was disrespected (especially during interviews and appointments)
  2. The recruiting process took too long
  3. Salary didn’t meet their expectations

These three issues crop up in every region we survey, although the order changes a bit. In Latin America and EMEA, for example, salary tops the list. In APAC, salary drops off the list and is replaced by “poor communication with the recruiting team.” Despite these fluctuations, the top reasons for candidate abandonment remain remarkably consistent globally.

Frankly, salary-related abandonment is to be expected and doesn’t really speak to the quality of a company’s candidate experience or to the efficiency of its recruiting team and processes. But those first two issues speak volumes.

Disrespecting Candidates’ Time

Talent Board has surveyed over 1.25 millions candidates over the past decade from over 1,200 companies. The mix of candidates we survey changes from year to year but, even so, one of their most consistent complaints has been that recruiters and hiring managers don’t always respect their time — a failure that occurs at every stage of the recruiting process.

The most common occurrences include:

  • Overly complex or repetitive applications with assessments
  • Screenings, tests, and/or assessments that take too long or that require unreasonable amounts of time and/or effort to complete
  • Recruiters or hiring managers schedule interviews but never show up (ghosting), or reschedule several times, or are disruptive during the interviews themselves
  • Job offers that take weeks or months to materialize
  • Lengthy and arduous onboarding practices (which get worse in heavily regulated industries)

Another less obvious but no less critical way that employers disrespect candidates’ time is by keeping them in the dark about where they stand during the recruiting process. For instance, just 36% of North American candidates were able to view a progress indicator when applying for a job, and only 29% received a reminder about next steps after completing their application.

Post-interview, 76% of candidates said the hiring manager never explained next steps. And 43% of candidates said it took two weeks or longer to receive an offer letter (6% waited more than four weeks). The results are similar around the world.

All of these missteps contribute to a candidate’s impression that their time isn’t valued. It’s probably not surprising that companies with the highest-rated candidate experiences in our research do better than other companies at keeping candidates apprised of their status throughout their journey, no matter how long or short it might be.

Bottom line, candidates are generally quite patient with the recruiting process because they understand how busy recruiters and hiring managers are (and they want that job). But their patience isn’t unlimited, and in today’s talent market, where the power is shifting to candidates rather than employers, their patience definitely isn’t as abundant as it used to be.

An Overly Lengthy Recruiting Process

Again, candidates fully accept that the recruiting process takes time — time that ultimately might not even pay off with a job offer. However, they also understand their own value, particularly in today’s fiercely competitive labor market. As a result, they’re much less willing to endure long, arduous recruiting processes. Plus, in the current recruiting environment, TA teams that move slowly are going to lose desirable talent to nimbler teams with streamlined processes…

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