The candidate experience: Is it damaging your employer brand?


By Dr. Sandy Milesa & Randy McCamey on ScienceDirect

The importance of the candidate experience has only recently gained attention as the war for talent ensues. Despite its importance, there is a paucity of research examining the exchange relationship between the job candidate and the organization during the recruitment process. This article presents a model—illustrating the connections and exchanges made among an organization, the job candidate, and the organization’s recruitment process—that forms the candidate experience and, in turn, affects the employer’s brand either positively or negatively. Based on this framework, guidelines are presented to assist organizations in ensuring a positive candidate experience that will result in the strengthening of the employer brand and improving recruitment and business outcomes. Some of these business outcomes include strengthening relationships with customers and investors, referring friends to the company, and participating in future searches conducted by the organization.

1. Significance of the candidate experience

In 2016, nearly 60% of job candidates reported a bad candidate experience, with 72% indicating they shared their negative experience online (CareerArc, 2016). An annual survey conducted by the Talent Board (2016) revealed that 41% of global candidates who reported a negative candidate experience indicated they intended to halt their alliances, product purchases, and/or relationships with that organization. For instance, Virgin Media, a British television, telephone, and internet services provider, quantified the costs of a poor candidate experience and determined it costs its brand $6 million in lost revenue annually (Adams, 2016). Some of these costs are attributed to lost relationships and a damaged employer brand, which ultimately compromises a firm’s ability to attract top talent. The candidate experience stems from both the recruiter and recruitment process, which forms the candidates’ perception of the employer brand and influences the candidates’ decision to continue a relationship with the organization. A positive candidate experience accurately reflects the desired brand of the organization, while a negative experience may result in desired talent opting out of the process and going to work for a competitor. A negative experience may also cause the candidate to disengage as a customer or stakeholder, or damage the employer’s brand by posting negative comments on social media sites…


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