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Candidate experience still counts

Monday May 25, 2015 Written by  CareerBuilder
Whether it’s keeping candidates guessing as to where they are in the application process or simply neglecting to acknowledge their application, some employers are unwittingly leaving candidates with a bad impression – and it’s taking a toll on their businesses.

According to a new study from CareerBuilder, the experiences candidates have with a company throughout the application process can make or break their impression of a company, not only affecting their decisions to apply and accept job offers, but also their loyalty as customers.

“Today’s candidates expect ongoing communication from companies during the application process, and when companies fail to meet this expectation, it can be bad for business,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer with CareerBuilder. “Candidates remember when companies don’t respond to them, fail to update them on the status of their application or don’t follow up after an interview. Not only do these experiences make candidates less likely to apply to the company again, but they also make them less likely to purchase from the company as customers.”

Here are six facts every employer should know about the candidate experience:

1. Candidate experience matters more than you know.

According to the study, 82 per cent of employers think there’s little to no negative impact on the company when a candidate has a bad experience during the hiring process. The reality, however, is that the majority of candidates do not take poor treatment lying down: 58 per cent are less likely to buy from a company to which they’ve applied if they don’t get a response to their application; 69 per cent are less likely to do so if they have a bad experience in the interview; and the same is true of 65 per cent if they didn’t hear back after an interview.

Conversely, a good candidate experience can have the reverse effect: 69 per cent of candidates are more likely to buy from a company to which they’ve applied if they’re treated with respect throughout the application process, and 67 per cent are likely to do the same if they receive consistent updates throughout the recruitment process.

2. Employers may be missing opportunities to connect with candidates.

Job seekers may be searching for jobs in a lot of places where employers don’t have a presence. Candidates consult up to 18 resources throughout their job search – including job boards, social networking sites, search engines and online referrals – but the majority of employers (58 per cent) don’t use tracking or coding technology to learn where candidates are coming from and ensure they are making efficient use of their recruitment marketing efforts. Without any data on where their candidates are coming from, employers may be missing opportunities to connect with candidates where they are actually searching.

3. Candidates expect more than you’re giving them.

For some candidates, the myth of the infamous application “black hole” is all too real. More than half of employers (52 per cent) respond to less than half of the candidates who apply. What these employers may not realize, however, is that not only do most candidates expect an automated reply that acknowledges their application, the majority (84 per cent) also expect a personal email response, and 52 per cent anticipate a phone call.

Even when the news isn’t what they hope to receive, candidates expect a response. One in four candidates (25 per cent) expect to hear if the employer will not be bringing them in for an interview.

4. Ongoing communication is critical for candidates.

When it comes to candidate communication, employers seem to be falling short of candidates’ expectations. Thirty-six per cent of candidates expect to be updated throughout the application process, and 41 per cent expect to be notified if they weren’t chosen after they interviewed with the company. But only 26 per cent of employers proactively communicate with candidates about what stage of the hiring process they’re in.

Even when they’ve made it as far into the process as an interview, many candidates are still left in the dark. Nearly three in four candidates who interviewed with companies (73 per cent) said they were never given an explanation about why they didn’t get the job.

5. Candidates are frustrated with the application process.

When it comes to keeping candidates engaged and interested in their opportunities, a company’s application process can be its own worst enemy. Forty per cent of candidates feel the application process has become more difficult in the last five years. Of those, 57 per cent complain the process is too automated and lacks personalization, 51 per cent are frustrated they have no idea where they are in the process, and 50 per cent say the process has so many more steps than it used to have.

A separate CareerBuilder survey found that three in five candidates do not complete the application process if they feel it is too long.

Employers can reduce these frustrations by taking the time to respond to candidates, by keeping the lines of communication going and by minimizing the number of steps candidates must go through during the application process.

6. Candidates are more willing to accept lower salaries from well-reputed employers.

Treating candidates well is good for the bottom line. More than three in four candidates (77 per cent) are willing to accept a salary that is five per cent lower than their expected offer if the employer created a great impression through the hiring process. Even more candidates (83 per cent) would do the same if the company had a reputation as a great employer. Candidates would also accept a lower salary if the company had a lot of positive press recently (69 per cent) and had great online reviews (73 per cent).

These findings underscore the importance of having a strong employment brand. However, more than half of employers (52 per cent) do not have a clearly defined employment brand. This gives the other 48 per cent of employers a distinct edge when it comes to capturing in-demand candidates at competitive prices.

The 2015 Candidate Behavior study was conducted by Inavero on behalf of CareerBuilder. The survey polled more than 5,013 American workers age 18 and over, and 2,002 hiring decision makers. The survey was conducted from Feb. 3 to 18.

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