It might be a candidate’s market out there, but that doesn’t mean candidates are happy.

According to the Talent Board, the number of candidates who have a positive experience when dealing with an employer is on the decline. At the same time, they’re more hesitant to apply to an employer another time, refer others, be a brand advocate and/or make purchases from consumer-based businesses.

This is a reversal from 2021, when positive experiences increased during the pandemic’s early days.

While positive candidate experience is going down, candidate resentment is going up. In North America and EMEA, the Talent Board said, candidate resentment has risen to pre-pandemic levels. In North America, it rose from 8% in 2020 to 14% in 2021, a 75% spike and the largest increase the Talent Board has seen in the decade it’s been conducting research.

All of this comes from the Talent Board’s primary 2021 candidate experience benchmark research report. Sifting through the data, the organization drew several other conclusions.

First, AI improves the candidate experience. Top companies are more likely to have implemented AI recruiting technology to improve their sourcing capabilities, their communication with candidates and to support recruiters in doing their jobs. Automation, the board said, can free up recruiters to work more efficiently, which improves candidate experience outcomes.

Second, feedback loops are critical. Candidates for leading companies indicated they were more likely to increase their relationship with the employer. While all stages of the process are important, candidates who make it to the screening and interviewing phase are most likely to be encouraged to apply again in the future.

This year over 150 companies around the world participated in the benchmark research program, which ultimately collected the feedback and experiences of nearly 200,000 candidates.

“No matter what the world looks like, each year we know that timely communication, expectation setting, feedback, transparency and closure are competitive differentiators,” said Ron Machamer, the Talent Board’s director of global programs. “Communication and feedback loops at every stage of the recruitment process continue to be critical, can equate to a greater fairness for candidates and can generate a positive impact on business outcomes and the employment brand.”

For the first time, the Talent Board asked candidates to self-identify their race and ethnicity. According to President Kevin Grossman, “We found that women and people of color rated their 2021 candidate experiences much more positively than older candidates, male candidates or white/Caucasian candidates did.” One possible reason: more inclusive language and examples of diversity that employers are incorporating into to their career sites, communications, job ads and other marketing material for their employment brands, he said.

By Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.


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