The Return of Candidate Resentment

By Kevin Grossman – Published January 19, 2022 on

The Great Resignation — or Reshuffle or  Rebooting or whatever you want to call it — isn’t the only talent trend that will be impacting employers in 2022. According to new data from Talent Board’s candidate experience benchmark research, candidate resentment increased dramatically once again in North America and EMEA.

Candidate resentment refers to the antipathy job-seekers feel after participating in one or more phases of a company’s talent attraction or recruitment process (e.g., applying to a job, participating in an interview, undergoing an assessment test, etc.).

More importantly, candidate resentment measures the negative business outcomes of a poor candidate experience. For instance, job-seekers who endure a poor candidate experience are far less likely to apply again to that company’s jobs, refer others to the company, have any brand affinity, and/or purchase its products or services.

Talent Board’s latest global survey of job-seekers shows that candidate resentment spiked 75% in North America in 2021, the largest increase the organization has measured in the past decade. And it increased 25% in EMEA.

What’s more, these spikes come on the heels of historically low resentment rates just one year ago during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when job-seekers were more forgiving of poor candidate experiences and employers were more transparent and empathetic in their candidate communications.

We’ll explore why employers are losing all this goodwill in a moment. But before we do, let’s think about why this gut-punch of the Great [Insert Your Name For It Here] and soaring resentment is so worrisome.

A Vicious Talent Cycle

At first glance, the mass exodus of employees and the rise of candidate resentment might not appear to be connected. But they are and in a crucial way.

The candidate experience is the doorway through which every single person enters a company, and one where an internal candidate (employee) stays at the company. Providing a poor candidate experience slams that door shut and hampers an employer’s ability to replenish the precious talent it lost in 2021 and retain those who are still there.

In other words, correcting this existential business crisis also requires employers to provide positive candidate experiences and address the causes of growing candidate resentment.

This is a critical point to appreciate. Even if employers tackle the root causes of rampant turnover (fair wages and benefits, safer work environments, work-life balance, etc.), it might do very little to relieve their talent shortages if they deliver an experience that repels job seekers. And a great candidate experience is not a long-term solution to talent deficits if employers follow it up with a poor employee experience that fosters turnover.

Failing to resolve either one of these critical challenges can set up a vicious cycle that generates perpetual people shortfalls.

The Reasons for Spiking Resentment

The recruiting process and the candidate experience are complex, which means there are many potential reasons for a spike in candidate resentment, including:

  • A disjointed or labor-intensive application process
  • Recruiters who are unresponsive or slow to answer candidate inquiries and emails
  • Interviews that candidates perceive as unfair
  • Hiring managers who ghost candidates (it still happens, even in the current labor market)
  • The lack of candidate feedback for finalists
  • Workers wanting to work for equitable pay and on their own terms
  • And the list goes on

However, there is one trend that’s likely fueling a fair amount of the surge in resentment: Employers have struggled to sustain, and some have even abandoned, the transparency and timely communications they provided during the early stages of the pandemic…

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