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The Candidate Experience – Is Yours Exceptional?

June 26, 2021

By Sheila Hoover, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Consumer experiences define and shape our economy. Consumers are more likely to make additional purchases, refer friends, and remain loyal to a brand when they have an exceptional experience — while a negative experience can wreak havoc on a brand. 

According to a White House Office of Consumer Affairs study, a dissatisfied customer will tell nine to 15 people about their poor experience, and approximately 13% of your dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people.  Companies realize the impact that a positive or negative experience can have on their brand and business success. They have invested in dedicated roles, resources, and technology to help improve customer experiences. 

But they don’t typically give this level of attention to the candidate experience. According to recent studies by Aptitude Research and Talent Board:

  • 58% of applicants who are screened out never receive a response (Aptitude Research)
  • 1 in 3 recruiters are feeling more burned out this year than ever before (Aptitude Research)
  • 61% of job applicants had not heard back from the employers after applying two months prior (2020 Talent Board Candidate Experience Benchmark Research)

Although the talent acquisition experience has improved over the past few years, the global pandemic has created frustration and inefficiencies for both candidates and employers.  And while 68% of companies are committed to improving these experiences in 2021, they often fall short. 

Prior to the pandemic, treating your candidates like customers was a key focus for talent acquisition professionals. The number of touch points a candidate should receive during the hiring process and implementing post-hire surveys to evaluate the candidate experience were popular topics. It seems that, either due to pandemic-fatigue or a tighter labor market, such topics have not been discussed as much recently. What exactly is an exceptional experience in talent acquisition? How can companies create experiences that feel meaningful and personal for candidates through every stage of their journey? Below are some of the key findings of Aptitude Research and Talent Board’s research:

START WITH THE EMPLOYER EXPERIENCE

Are your employees happy?  Candidates will not have a positive experience if recruiters are unhappy and disengaged. If hiring teams are overworked and overwhelmed, the candidate experience will be negatively impacted. Today’s recruiting and hiring teams are facing an experience crisis and remote work has created additional stress.  32% of recruiters surveyed are looking for other career opportunities. Companies that want to improve their external experiences need to look internally first. 

BIGGEST MISSED OPPORTUNITY 

Candidates want to understand their progress and know where they stand. Companies need to communicate with candidates early in the process when they are first researching and applying to the organization. They should also provide a process indicator during the application process, as well as communicate next steps post-application. Currently, 58% of candidates do not receive any response after submitting their online application.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A poor candidate experience impacts business performance, including brand and customer retention. Organizations that have improved talent acquisition experiences over the past year have seen improvements to net promoter scores (NPS), customer retention, and employer brand. Companies that provide a more engaging and human experience see a direct impact on business performance, including a two times improvement on NPS scores.

AUTOMATION

Automation can help improve experiences for both employers and candidates. While not new to recruiting, automated processes continued to increase this year to support leaner recruiting teams and more applications, especially with machine learning and other smart technologies. The reality is that most candidates who are interested in a job will research and apply, but never move forward. Most will have little to no human interaction and will be dispositioned automatically. Automation can help provide a fair and equitable experience and allow companies to provide consistent communications to every candidate.

Our world has been through a lot. People are on edge. But companies need to keep moving. They can do this in a manner that respects the time, energy, and efforts of the people they are asking to join their teams. Treating each other as human beings — like apologizing when you are late, following up, or asking about the research you requested — are all easy things we can do to improve the candidate experience.

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