Workplace Culture

Hiring Basics Can Help Avoid a Bad Candidate Experience

By Rosemary Haefner

Aug. 22, 2017

It is not breaking news that a bad hire can come with a high price tag — recruiting costs, training costs, man-hours and morale issues — not to mention the lost productivity.

But there’s another recruiting misstep that could cost you as well, and it’s probably something you don’t often think about: poor candidate experience. While you as a hiring manager have decision-making power, candidates with options aren’t going to stick around if they are not having a good experience.

If you come across as unorganized in your search and onboarding — as if the role isn’t a priority — then you’re turning potentially great hires into dissatisfied customers that could have a negative impact for your brand.

Exclusive research and insights from CareerBuilder’s 2017 “Candidate Experience Study” show what peers and competitors have identified as shortcomings in their process, illustrate the role for technology to help improve the process and provide tips to make things easier for employers and prospective employees.

In partnership with Inavero, CareerBuilder surveyed 4,512 workers (ages 18 and over), 1,500 hiring decision-makers in the United States and 504 workers in Canada in an effort to understand the factors that influence candidates’ job search experience. Here are some aspects employers are struggling with according to study results:

  1. Not having a quick apply process for every device: The application process itself can contribute to a negative experience for modern candidates as “applications taking too long” (28 percent), “having to customize documents for every job” (34 percent) and “uploading a résumé into a system but still having to manually fill out fields” (29 percent) are reiterated as frustrating aspects of the process by a considerable number of candidates.
  2. Not preparing hiring managers: On average, only 2 out of 5 hiring managers are prepped by recruiters or talent acquisition specialists. Of those who do, only 2 out of 5 prep hiring managers specifically on the topic of candidate experience. This means only 16 percent of hiring managers overall are prepped by specialists to help manage the candidate’s experience.
  3. Not having an effective career site: An employer’s career site is important for getting key information, according to 89 percent of job seekers. But a quarter of employers (24 percent) say their company career site doesn’t accurately portray what it’s like to work for their organization, and only 45 percent of candidates say they can typically tell what it would be like to work for a company based on their career site.
  4. Not tailoring communications methods to specific segments: The ever-emerging multigenerational workforce demands a shift in the way we communicate. Millennials significantly prefer email communications (57 percent) over phone calls (31 percent), whereas baby boomers significantly prefer phone calls (58 percent) over emails (37 percent). Generation Xers have equal preferences toward email and phone calls (47 percent for both).
  5. Not recognizing when the employee experience really begins: The lines between the candidate and employee experience are blending — at least in the eyes of candidates, as 3 in 4 say their candidate and onboarding experience with a company is the first part of their broader employee experience with that company.
  6. Not building relationships with candidates for future opportunities: The most valuable resource an employer has is their talent pool. While it is important to attract the top candidates, it is equally as important to frequently and effectively communicate with your talent pool, but more than a third of employers (35 percent) say they don’t put time into doing this.
  7. Not having an efficient background check process: Employers that want to keep top talent from talking to other companies while they want to receive employment screening results should improve their screening process. Sixty percent of candidates continue communicating and interviewing with other companies while waiting on background results.
  8. Not having the right ATS or an ATS at all: Organizations currently utilizing an ATS, or applicant tracking system, reported placing more emphasis on the candidate, employee and hiring manager experiences. For example, those who currently use an ATS are 25 percent more likely to have a standardized process to help deliver a consistent candidate experience.
  9. Not informing the candidate where they stand: More than half of job seekers say employers don’t do a good job of setting expectations in terms of communication at the beginning of a potential hiring interaction. Eighty-one percent of job seekers said continuously communicating status updates to candidates would greatly improve the overall experience.
  10. Not staying connected with candidates once they have accepted the position: Once the hiring process is in the post-acceptance and onboarding stage, the expectation is for the process to be seamless and frustration-free for new hires — yet a noticeable number of candidates say this stage has not been ideal. Two in 5 candidates (40 percent) say they’ve experienced a lack of communication in the past between when they accepted the job and their first day of work. This is not surprising, since less than half of employers (47 percent) have a formal process in place for communicating and interacting with candidates between the day they accepted the job and the day they start work.
  11. Not paying attention to how their employer presence/brand is portrayed on social media: Employers are trying to reach an audience, and they can’t afford to let their brand’s social media pages fall by the wayside. Yet, 60 percent of employers don’t monitor their employer presence/brand on social media. Of those who do, 68 percent take steps to encourage positive reviews while 16 percent just react to negative information.
  12. Not treating candidates with the same respect as employees: While the majority of employers (51 percent) say the line is blurring between the company experience and employee experience, less than half of job seekers (49 percent) say employers treat candidates with the same level of respect and accountability as current employees. This is an issue since the vast majority of job seekers (nearly 4 in 5) say the overall candidate experience is an indicator of how a company values its people.

One in four employers says the amount of time it took to fill their last opening was too long. Hiring isn’t easy, but don’t lose sight of the plight of candidates. Job seekers on average say it takes them about 2 1/2 months — 10 to 11 weeks — to find a job, from when the search begins to when they accept the offer. During this time, they spend just over five hours a week on average on job search related activities.

Your job is hard, but so is the candidate’s. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how to improve your candidate experience — and technology can help you get there.

Rosemary Haefner is chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. Comment below or email

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