The modern world is one of instant gratification and convenience. 

We ask Alexa to turn on our favourite playlist, receive suggestions for movies we’ll like based on our viewing history, and make in-app purchases of things we’ve seen on our social feeds. This morning I ordered my morning coffee on a mobile app, so that it was sat waiting for me as I walked in to collect it. No queue. No dash to the office to make it in on time.

Our expectations have been driven higher than ever as these brilliant innovations become every day run of the mill experiences. To illustrate, think of contactless payment – a method that once felt somewhat avant-garde is now a standard part of a shopping or dining experience. To the point that having to stop and enter my PIN feels a bit, well… annoying.

My point is, today’s most successful brands are employing a deep understanding of consumer needs and motivations to deliver seamless, intuitive and personalised experiences – anything else just isn’t cutting the mustard for us modern consumers. So, why is it that when it comes to the candidate experiences that employers are offering up – the same rules don’t seem to apply?

Treat your candidates like consumers. 

The record strength of the UK labour market and increasing demand for both diverse talent and digital skill sets, means that coveted candidates are able to exercise more choice than ever before and seek employers who engage and inspire them. Candidates are ‘shopping’ for jobs, researching roles in the same way as they would when making a big purchase, and aligning themselves to brands that share the same values. 

As an employer, you should be looking at the attraction and retention of candidates in the same way as attracting and retaining customers. To attract the top talent you need to use consumer-style engagement strategies that utilise technology and UX design principles to create a seamless and empathetic candidate journey – something that surprises, delights and ensures a candidate knows why they want to work for you.

The business case for candidate experience. 

If you need any further convincing, there are some pretty impressive stats that support investment in candidate experience in this linked article from PR Week…

  • 60% of job seekers report a negative candidate experience and 72% share those negative experiences online 
  • 9% of people who report having a bad hiring experience will tell others not to purchase from the company
  • 23% of people who have a good application experience are more likely to purchase from that company
  • 56% of rejected candidates will re-apply for future jobs if they have an overall positive experience during the recruitment process 
  • and 37% would recommend roles to others

In 2016 Virgin Media calculated that they were losing £4.4million per year in lost revenue from candidates that had had a bad recruitment experience and were cancelling their subscriptions[1]

Virgin’s then Head of Resourcing, Graeme Johnson, was inspired to investigate the cost of poor candidate experience after reading interview feedback from an unsuccessful candidate called Louise.

Louise wrote: “I’m really upset. I just wanted a part-time job locally, and expected to be treated much better from Virgin. I was sent home after interview, interviewer was rude taking a phone call, I didn’t get the chance to complete the rest of the assessment. I’m switching to sky, and so is my sister.

Johnson found that, like Louise, 6% of Virgin media’s rejected candidates were disconnecting from their service within 3 months of their negative experience. Amounting to an eye-watering £4.4 million a year. Unsurprisingly, Virgin have since turned candidate experience into a company wide priority.

But that was 2016. It’s 2020 now. 

“Candidate experience” has been creating a buzz in recruitment for a number of years, but there’s still reason for me to suggest that it's a topic of real importance and relevance. 

Despite mounting candidate expectations, PeopleScout’s latest research revealed that only 5% of recent candidates would rate their recruitment experience as excellent. 

Only 5%!

If only 5% of candidates are reporting excellent consumer-grade recruitment experiences, there’s clearly a significant disparity in the way that employers and candidates are perceiving the process. It’s also obvious that there’s a big opportunity for employers who are willing to bridge the gap and approach their recruitment processes with genuine empathy for their candidates.

Where to start? Typically you will have dozens of candidate touch-points to review and optimise; knowing where to prioritise investment can be difficult – but have you tried asking your candidates what they think needs improving?

78% of job seekers report never having been asked for feedback on their experiences as a candidate[2], suggesting that the majority of employers are missing out on this valuable source of strategic insight. We know empathy requires true understanding, but when so few employers are embedding feedback into their recruitment process, it suddenly becomes a lot more plausible that the Candidate Experience Gap should still be so vast. 


Sources: [1] Graeme Johnson (2016) The Commercial Impact of Candidate Experience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfnQWPHGH8A [2] WorkplaceTrends (2016) Candidate Experience Study