funny-tenWith hundreds of employers voluntarily subjecting their hiring process to the intense scrutiny involved in being adjudicated by nearly 95,000 applicant responses, the 2014 Candidate Experience Awards did more than just open the recruiting books up at some of the world’s biggest brands.

It also generated a ton of useful information for a cross-section of candidates – and the recruiters responsible for hiring them – at companies running the full gamut of industries, verticals, markets and talent needs, the sheer sample size serving as something of a microcosm for the job search of today.

Talk about big data.

10 Candidate Experience Statistics Every Recruiter Should Know

If you are in recruiting, math probably is not your thing; if it were, the statistical odds of filling most of your open roles would look so slim you would probably have already found another line of work.

We get that every pie chart pretty much just looks like Pac Man, or that you instantly ignore any grid that is filled with more confusing numbers and stats than a sports book.

That is why we have dug deep into the data, looking for data diamonds in the rough, which is rough. So too was narrowing down this list from the fire hose of awesomely insightful information generated by this year’s CandE Awards.

This list of 10 takeaways represents a statistical snapshot of where candidate experience is at today – and what must be done to improve it tomorrow.

1, Career Sites Count.

 ff3b29e17ce31fcf46e29c4cfe11b28d64.5% of applicants found career sites helpful when researching a company. Compare this to 19.9% who said that review sites like Glassdoor were helpful marketing materials, and an even lower score for social recruiting (3.8% for Facebook, 1.9% for Twitter, and the much vaunted talent communities at 5.9%).

This is great news for recruiters, since it means that candidates turn to the platform where they get to control the content.

Of course, any candidate these days also knows that this is the best resource to prepare for an interview and figure out what the organization looks for in candidates, but interestingly, prefer this information directly from an employer instead of hearing it from current and former employees.

But they do not want to hear it on social media – the abysmal numbers suggest that employers are best off abandoning these resource intensive platforms in favor of building a great careers site with a candidate-focused, clean UX/UI and great content that’s optimized for search engines and mobile.

For job seekers, search is clearly beating the pants off social.

2. Your Values Are Your Employer Brand.

14.4% of candidates stated that the most important marketing material influencing their decision to apply was the company’s values, more than awards like Best Places to Work Lists (12.7%) or corporate social responsibility (13.8%).

This means that generating the candidates an organization is looking for would be better served focusing their efforts on stating their values instead of the more complex and resource intensive marketing efforts employers currently utilize to demonstrate those values in action. This outcome is counterintuitive, at least from a marketing perspective, but well beyond the margin of error.

This outcome, however, translates into a great opportunity for recruiters, since adding consistent, succinct value statements to stuff like job descriptions can make them a whole lot more effective for not a whole lot of extra effort.

Of course, those values ultimately have to resonate, so do not ditch any of the great work you have done just yet – those awards, workplace honors and philanthropic efforts might not make the biggest difference prior to applying for a job, but just might represent the difference between an accepted offer or a rejected one at the end of the process.

Also, please note that dead last was anything related to gamification (a paltry 1.8%), proof that this is one fad that should fade away fast (and rightfully so – every job search is a game, and you win when you get hired).

3. Forget Big Data. 

big data75.4% of candidates were never asked about their experience by an employer prior to filling out this survey – which means that despite the fact that both big data and candidate experience are trending topics, fully three-quarters of employers have absolutely no analytics to even create basic benchmarks around how candidates perceive their process.

Based on the 73,000 responses this question generated from real job seekers to real employers, it is pretty obvious that you will get enough responses to start generating some actionable analytics.

Get the numbers before worrying about what you’re going to do with them.

4. Don’t Get High on Your Own Apply.

 43% of candidates spend 30 minutes or more on the average online application. An even 10% spend an hour or more. Think about this for a second. On the one hand, you’re placing a premium on passive candidates who are fully employed, but expect them to waste up to an hour of their life filling out your stupid forms? Forget about it.

Even the best recruitment marketing or HR technology can’t fix a broken process – so stop adding complexity and start focusing on simplicity. Most candidates start the online job search process with a search engine like Google – which means that their expectations for user experience going in are pretty high.

Want to improve candidate experience (and recruiting results pretty much across the board)? Keep it simple, stupid.

5. Interviewing Is Candidate Experience’s Greatest Weakness. 

angry birdsOnly 38.2% of candidates received any information prior to their actual interview, other than ostensibly a date and location.

And while that fraction seems tiny, the winning response to the question of what kind of “communication and preparation” employers gave before their interview was just getting the name of the interviewer.

Pat yourself on the back, recruiters. Almost 4 in 10 of you are letting people know the names of the hiring managers they’ll be meeting in advance.

Speaking of great experiences, 26% of you are providing candidates coming in for interviews with detailed agendas, the same percentage as escorted your candidates between interviews.

This means that you are not only making candidates find their own way, but you are not telling them where they are supposed to go. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

6. Silence Is The Most Damning Form of Rejection.

5.5% of candidates were given feedback that they found even moderately useful from employers when notified that they were not selected; of that, a scant 2.6% of candidates received “specific and valuable feedback.” Of course, candidates were lucky to receive any feedback at all; 55.9% reported not receiving any feedback in the first place. Another 20% of those that did were provided “general or limited feedback.”

What’s more, while the minority never heard from you again after spending an inordinate amount of time filling out your overly complex online application, only 13.1% were encouraged to apply again.

This evidences that for all the talk of building pipelines and talent communities, referral networks and professional connections, almost all recruiting is done just in time, and closes the door on candidates when closing out requisitions.

Clearly, when it comes to candidate experience, second place truly is the first loser. At least they are in good company, statistically speaking.

7, Candidates Have A Pretty High Threshold For Pain.

Kelton-dmvOnly 10.5% of candidates had stressful or negative enough experiences to definitively count you out as an employer, answering “definitely not” if asked if they would apply again after a first employment encounter; furthermore, only 20.4% said they were unlikely to consider applying again, but would not rule it out entirely.

Repeat business is, from a best practices standpoint, the best indicator of success, and by this account, employers are actually winning at candidate experience, even if they are widely ignoring it. 32% had good enough experiences to definitely apply again, and 37.1% said they were likely, given their previous experience was “efficient and fair.”

Not exactly the words most would use to describe recruiting, but still, this means almost 70% of all candidates are going to proactively continue to apply, with or without your encouragement or any modicum of engagement or communication from the employer.

8. A Bad Candidate Experience Will Cost You.

23.8% of survey respondents stated that a positive candidate experience with an employer made them more likely to increase their relationships with employers’ respective “brand alliances, product purchases or networking.” 25.4% were encouraged to continue to maintain a relationship with an employer even after applying for a job.

While only 11% had poor enough candidate experiences to cut all ties with a company, that still means, since candidates are customers, the majority have their purchasing decisions or brand sentiment impacted directly through candidate experience.

This translates to a lot of potential revenue dollars (and goodwill), and proves why candidate experience just makes sense.

9. Job Boards Still Work.

0c4a4-dontbelievethehypeSocial media and employer branding might be trendy, but if you are looking to get some bang for your recruiting buck, turns out old school is still in. 62% of candidates reported utilizing job post aggregator Indeed in their job search, with 51% and 47% of candidates reporting using CareerBuilder and Monster, respectively.

Compare this to Facebook (11.9%), Twitter (4.3) and YouTube (1.8%), and you will see why new is not necessarily better when it comes to reaching talent.

If you are looking to convert job content into warm leads and actual applicants, focus on writing great job descriptions and spending your time fishing where the fish are – and where today’s candidates are concerned, the resource they use most continues to be job boards.

10. Candidate Experience is Your Only Chance To Make A First Impression.

 47.7% of applicants had no previous relationship whatsoever with a company before applying for a job there, compared to around 15% for both referrals and existing customers. This means that for many candidates, the experience they have is the first exposure they will ever get to your brand.

This means that focusing on candidate experience literally is putting first things first – and the initial impression potential customers and clients will have of your brand. That is a pretty compelling business case right there.

To download a complete copy of the 2014 Candidate Experience Awards report or to learn more about how you can get involved, click here.


By Matt Charney

Matt serves as Chief Content Officer and Global Thought Leadership Head for Allegis Global Solutions and is a partner for RecruitingDaily the industry leading online publication for Recruiting and HR Tech. With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.”