TheCandEs – 2020 North American CandEs Benchmark Research Report with Kevin Grossman

Today we have a good friend of mine on the show. Kevin Grossman is here from the Talent Board to talk about the 2020 North American CandEs Benchmark Report. I’ve known Kevin for a long time and this is going to be a great conversation.

He’ll take us a little bit into the candidate experience and what we’ve learned in this particular report.

Listening time: 30 minutes

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William 0:33
Ladies and gentlemen this is William Tincup, you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today I have a good friend of mine on Kevin Grossman. Kevin and I have known each other…oh god. 15 years-ish. Lots of different roles, a lot of lots of different companies. And we’ve maintained a friendship throughout that. And Kevin will tell you a little bit about CandEs. What we’re going to talk about today is something I look forward to every year is a benchmark research report that the CandEs put out. And, and again, Kevin’s gonna take us a little bit into the candidate experience and what we’ve learned in this particular report. So Kevin, if you would do us the honor, and introduce yourself and also introduce the CandEs and the talent report.

Kevin 1:21
William, thank you so much, I will definitely do that. But you know, before we started this, I was also referencing how old I feel these days. We do go back a long time we do long, long time HR marketer and jet-powered.

William 1:35
That’s right. That’s right.

Kevin 1:37
Oh my gosh, so long ago. Um, so anyway, thanks for having me on Kevin Grossman, I run what is usually known as the CandEs. So it’s talent board is actually the nonprofit organization that runs the CandEs, we do benchmark research every year with hundreds of companies big and small across industries, helping them to self assess how they feel they’re delivering recruiting and hiring experiences to their candidates and external and internal and then actually asking anonymously, pools of their candidates to get that big feedback, they get access to not only their own feedback but aggregate data from all the companies that participate in each region each year and be able to compare and contrast themselves. And we do a little bit of work with them to giving them review of that. They’re really helping them understand what we’ve been talking about for the past few years now is that the potential impact on business and brand based on how they treat candidates.

William 2:34
So for folks that are listening, you’ve obviously heard the phrase candidate experience awards, you know, through the years. And you know, this started, you know, as an idea of like, how do we raise the literacy and intellect around treating candidates better. So history lesson for everyone, you go back that far. And, you know, we you know, this was the resume that got, you know, tossed into the trash can then no one ever talked to eBay, we fast forward. And we all know that that’s a bad idea. But companies are, you know, evolving in different ways and at different paces. And so each here, this, this particular report, comes out and kind of tells the story of Okay, here’s what we’ve learned. And here’s how our intellect and literacy and also our experiences, here’s how we’re getting better and maybe in some cases regressing, that’s fine. But, but what I love about it is, you know, it’s a lot of data points. And so recruiters and heads of TA and, and HR leaders and executives can see how are we treating our customers, which are candidates in this in this instance? How are we How are we doing? And how are we doing, you know, against the benchmark? So why don’t you tell me or once you tell the audience, kind of when you look at this report, what stuck out to you?

Kevin 4:02
The – And just a quick, quick asterisk about candidate experience, or it’s because when this program first started, that the idea of it was to do a little survey research gives companies some feedback. And then those companies who had the highest positive candidate ratings that we found in that survey research, we give them awards, and those are the only companies. Those are the only companies that we send out publicly every year. So there’s a lot more that participate, but we don’t share who they are. That has evolved over the years. So we still do the awards, of course, but it’s again, the big the focus primarily is on getting those benchmarks. So here’s what’s interesting, that we saw early on in 2020, when we started capturing the data with from companies that we had never seen before. So pre- think pre-COVID first free COVID was nothing but a growth market. Right? I mean, Coming out of the great recession was when the candies came out of that, in a sense, and started a year or two after we started really recovering. There was nothing but month after month job growth consecutive for quite a long time and the lowest unemployment in decades, especially in the states going into 2020. And what was interesting is that pre again, pre-COVID, we had what we call the resentment, right, so the percentage of candidates in our research who say, I’m never gonna do anything with you again, I’m not going to jack with you ever again. No, applying again, referring, no buying stuff. Again, if and when applicable, if you’re talking about a consumer-based business that was actually increasing globally in our data, especially in North America, I think I would argue, William that North America were the angriest, most vocal top candidates in the world. But then we get into then COVID happened, right? I mean, it rat, it rocked everything, on all levels. And it still is today. But we know, we all think back to march 13, which my youngest daughter reminds me. That’s when school was done.

William 6:14
There were the Ides of March, which is two days later.

Kevin 6:17
I mean, that was it. That was Friday the 13th. Right? in her mind, it’s like that. We haven’t been back to school in person since at least for us. But anyway. So all of a sudden, you’ve got companies grappling with what to do we have candidates that are scheduled for in-person interviews, we can’t do them. We have new hires that are going to start dates, we have to push out those dates, or we have to freeze or we have how do we figure out how to keep the business going forward? So not only was it was it about what how do we communicate with these candidates that now we have, everything’s changed? How do we communicate with our own employees? How do we keep telling them that we’re trying to figure this out, and that each month that went by, unfortunately, there were those who were furloughed and those who were laid off, but we, but the companies, though, there was this level of forced transparency like we had never seen, right? Either you were part of that either, you were letting everybody know, what’s happening is we’re trying to figure this out. And that that empathic communication was really increased that we had never seen before in the data. So what is interesting is that we go from a growing resentment rate, and an okay moderate modest increase over the years of what I would call the great experience, to weigh up on the positive experience and Weigh Down on the resentment. Part of that of not only was it about that level of transparency that the employers were put into, and to keep communicating, they’re all suddenly are, and still are, unfortunately, millions of people out of work, right. And then you’ve got higher levels of people that are applying for jobs and candidates, you know, they went from there a candidate market to not so they’re, on the whole, we see this in the sentiment that we saw last year, too. They’re more forgiving of the process overall. So that was the most dramatic, not what we were expecting to see.

William 8:17
Right. You knew as you knew we went from a candidate-driven market to an employer-driven, like overnight, March 13. You again, this might not be in the data, but just because you’ve studied this face for a long time. Do you? Do you think that candidates in the future next couple of years, do you think that there’ll be asking companies, how they manage COVID?

Kevin 8:44
I think for it’s a really good question. And I’ll partition it this way. Because I think sometimes when we talk about candidate experience and job candidates, we and I would say even a lot of us that have been in the space for a long time. We talk about the professional hires the professional level point. Well, that and i think i think that’s valid though I think that there is going to be those and senior management and management and professional hires, and for very hard to fulfill roles that those people will probably be asked questions, right. They should be asking those questions. We’ll forget about a whole the whole I mean, the population that by the way, another interesting point from our research that was the most decimated the hourly population, especially in the States, they had some of the highest positive scores last year.

William 9:46

Kevin 9:47
Which did not it was counterintuitive, but again, I think that again, there was a forgiveness level, right? We’re looking for work. These employers, I mean, you know, employers were putting stuff on their career sites, they usually mean they’re telling everybody We’re not we can’t do anything right now. Thank you for stopping by. Yeah. But because of COVID, we were not hiring, but we really want you’re interested. I mean, they were trying to what do we do? What do we do? So I think there are other populations, though that, you know, are just looking for work. Right. And they’re not, they won’t ask that question. But I do agree that the, that more of the professional hires and management, they will ask that, yes.

William 10:26
So from the data, what came out in terms of kind of personalized kind of experiences or journeys, when we think of candidate experience, there’s obviously a lot of different ways. And so you, because you have smaller companies, big homies all the different industries? What came out for you? or what have you seen? That’s kind of like, when people talk about things that are highly personalized, you know, how do how does that translate into what you say?

Kevin 10:57
Let’s, let’s talk about the conundrum First, the conundrum, is that and you know, this, cuz I know that you have been talking about, again, micro experiences for a while to Canada and and how important that is, because every single interaction with a job candidate, not only we and again, we always also look through that filter of the external hires, but think about our own employees, and those who are looking for other roles, and potentially inside every single interaction of effects perception, and how I, how I feel about that day about that company and, and that brand, and it can change right over time. So what is interesting is that the majority think about the majority of job candidates, they research a company, whether that’s for five minutes, or five hours, or whatever that is, and they apply, and then I’m including internal folks to, and that’s the end of the road for most of them. Right? That’s it? I mean, that that is their experience, right? They’re gonna get an autoresponder they may get a timely rejection, you know, we would argue, when we hear this from a lot of companies today to try to make you know, within three to five days, seven days, maybe two weeks Max, but not weeks and weeks, right, not waiting till you fill the rack to tell the other folks that you’re, you know, you’re gonna pass on them. But if it’s done in a timely fashion, but the majority of them, that’s their experience is very limited. And it’s it’s an uphill battle for employers, right. But if any hiring volume in their defense, I mean, that is that there’s there’s always going to be a negative sentiment in the foundation no matter what you do. Right. So that said that that’s mostly automated to, again, for any most companies of any hiring volume. And it’s not that the human interaction doesn’t start until I actually maybe get screened, interviewed, assessed. And even that’s automated, too. And that interaction is going to be a much smaller tier of individuals that are going to have more engagement, more communication. And they should, because people who make it to that stage should have more of that. So I think that, you know, we talk a lot about recruiting technologies, and they are extremely important for recruiting and hiring we, they’re not new, but you know, especially now with machine learning and smart technologies and chatbots. And the ability to do make better-informed decisions as humans, the candidates don’t care about any of that stuff, right? They don’t care about your tech stack. They care about getting the job. Yeah, how’s the makeup feel through that process. And admin, since most of them don’t get the job, they care about the, again, the experience that they have. So what we’ve saw, so some of the standards that we see every year, which again, were the same last year that were the communication can that’s consistent from pre-application onboarding. And that’s going to be a mix of automation and human interaction, the organizations that actually we saw a smaller gap between the employers who didn’t win the candies and those who had the highest ratings. They actually were closer this time, which we liked to see because that means for us and the data that more and more companies were that at least those that participated in our benchmark research. They were investing in a higher level of communication. I guess that’s what my point that I’m trying to ramble on about, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s one of the big things that we did see also this last year.

William 14:38
I love it. I love that. So so one of the things I had a panel of recruiters. I was probably about a month ago now and I was asking him what are the questions like what, you know, these were people that were hiring. And one of the questions that candidates are asking now, I’m always curious as to like, you know, and understand the questions that we’re going to be asking them and some The screens and assessments and all that other stuff. But like, what questions are they asking? always curious about that. And so what came back to me is, is in tandem with what I learned from indeed be, you know, their number one search term is remote work, which is the first time that that’s happened to them. So they’re, you know, that’s the that’s interesting for them. But what I got from the recruiters was people want to know, you know, right now the jobs remote, of course, because of, you know, we’re in a pandemic. So of course, the job is remote. It will it always be remote? Like, what’s, what’s the job look like? And candidates want the what these recruiters Tell me as candidates wants some type of clarity on what is that role? Is it remote until COVID’s over? is a remote forever is remote until we figure it out. Like what is the status of remote? Did they are you seeing a review? Have you heard some of the same types of things around remote work? Yeah, and I mean, they implement the answer is the players off record now. Exactly. Right.

Kevin 16:11
I mean, they I mean, because we don’t know, right? I mean, they have may have an idea of what they’re really planning for. I mean, it’s like, it’s like scenario planning, right? You can only plan for all these different contingencies. And so to be ready, if that does happen, so yes, we did hear that a lot. Again, I partition job type, right, because we’re those individuals at enrolls that can be remote. Which a lot of professional hires, you know, in different industries, but not everybody, right? Yeah. Can be remote, and I think, but yes, for those who have everything virtualized and most of those people either working remotely, or we know we’re doing any interviewing screening remotely, and we continue to do so they are asking about that. And I think that is that’s a it’s a difficult one because again, employers don’t know the answer to what, what are we going to do? Once we come back to the office, I mean, you know, there was we even just God was like, last fall when some companies we again, thinking that we were going to be out of this sooner than later. Now we’re gonna have, you know, 10% like, I think I think it was Dell, I remember hearing on what Jerry Crispin’s colloquium calls with the kid career Crossroads that was talking about, that they were 10% in the office, then that’s it until we get a certain level. And I think a lot of companies and a lot of candy community organizations have been that way to at&t and many others, but we don’t know. But it is something that definitely candidates are asking about. They’re also asking about safety protocols, especially if even when people did have to go into the office. What that What is that like, and anybody who’s in retail, if there’s, you know, which have to be customer-facing or on-site, you know, facilities manufacturing, where there’s people that do have to be in person on some level still, you know, what are the safety protocols in place, and I, I just finished a podcast, which I’m excited about, because it’s something that it was three partners at a law firm talking about EFC suits from this last year and some of the trends that they saw, and it’s not, you know, I always like to joke I don’t even play an employment lawyer on TV, so I can’t but I wanted to hear and I’m telling you, the litigation is coming. Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. Yes, it is. And it Good, good, bad, indifferent. You know, what I mean, and defensive, whether the employees themselves or the organizations. It is and it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the word on out of the uglies. And if even when we’re all vaccinated, we’re not out of the igloos. So I think I think that it will be interesting to see. But yes, those are questions that they’re asking about remote work, safety protocols. And especially again, for you know, professional hate hires management, etc.

William 19:19
So, okay, so two questions left. One is, when you because you’ve looked at all these reports over time, one is is as is a lot of questions of what data or what nugget kind of stood out to you that really made you kind of think twice like something you had to let me think about that. Let me ponder that because, you know, that’s how surveys, that’s how data works. It comes back to you and then you look at your that, that, that that’s not what I thought that that should have been. Okay. Fair enough. So, so what was that for you?

Kevin 19:55
Yeah. So that the fact that the very less than 50% of the companies that participated this last year, give any kind of expectation indication of where the candidates are at in the process and much didn’t happen next. And I say it that way, because there have been marginal increases over the years of more companies doing that, because we’ve been touting expectation setting for a long time. And, and we’re, you know, let the candidates know where they stand. And, but I, I would still want that to be a lot higher. And, and that’s one because I just, I just think that’s something that we can you can even automate a lot of that right. J&J did it with their shine platform, right, a few years ago to be able to let candidates know where they’re at. And that’s one that was probably one of the things and then maybe one more, again, would be the fact that every year, we call locale perception gaps that we’re also looking, because we mean, this is not going to be a surprise, right? Most of the time, employers always rate themselves higher, right, of course, and the candidates do and, and –

William 21:25
I want to see the company that said, That’s reverse, though.

Kevin 21:28
You know, but here’s the thing, though, but I think that was this surprise. And again, it’s gonna vary from company to company. So I’m not going to call anybody out directly, but I can, I can share those specific data points. What I can tell you is that there was definitely much more what I’ll call awareness alignment, meaning this last year, collectively, there were a higher percentage of employers that were closer and how they self rated to what their candidates experienced. And again, I would go back and argue that’s probably because of the hyper the hyper-focus on transparency, this last year, continuing this year, that we learned some things that we did I mean, that the thing that I worry about, is that is that being sustained. That’s right, there are reading requests, what happens when we go back to some whatever that looks like, post-COVID? For sure. And we’re humming along again, you know, how much is that going to be left to go. And it doesn’t mean there are companies that just, you know, still have thrown in the towel, and they’re not communicating at all with anybody. But again, we did see this greater awareness, alignment between how they feel they’re delivering, recruiting and hiring, how their candidates actually, the only place that’s not a surprise, and this is the thing that holds constant every single year, is that at the point of being rejected when candidates know that they’ve been rejected, that rating will always be miles apart from even the employers writing themselves? Well, because it’s it is you can have the best experience, the engagement, the communication, the assessment, and however far you get will know, when you say now, that’s it and that and that’s why, you know, I always tell companies, it’s not about happy, because it’s only going to be happy if I get the job. Right. It’s about happy, it’s just about the key thing is and this is what I think the last thing I’ll close on to kind of round that out is that that relates what I just shared was the perception of fairness was more aligned than what we’ve seen in the past. And that means that that the candidates themselves felt that the process overall I got on the average was fair than we had seen in previous years again, which is still counterintuitive, when you look again, that it was a candidate market, lowest unemployment in decades. And they were still more miles apart on perception, gaps in perception of fairness, but that those were the bigger surprises to this last year.

William 24:10
So So um, first of all, one of the compliments that one of the best confidence a recruiter or hiring manager can ever get is I didn’t get the job. But I love the experience. Exactly. Right. So I’m gonna hand you a magic wand.

Kevin 24:25

William 24:26
It’s actually a pin, But anyhow.

Kevin 24:29
It’s a real magic wand with a star at the end.

William 24:34
So, you have – you now have a magic wand and you can get practitioners to do something with this report. What do they do? What do you what would you in your hope of hope Dream big dreams? What would they do with this report?

Kevin 24:54
If they, if they scanned anything I would want them to read. There’s a section about business impact that I would want them to focus on reading that and understand that by the sheer volume of people that are going through your recruiting process, most of them again, aren’t going to get very far and are never going to be hired, that all those interactions, whatever they are, and that experience is going to impact whether or not they do stuff with you again, and willing to share that stuff. Here’s one one more quick note on that magic one part. So that’s what I would I want them to understand that everything that they do the communication, the engagement, asking for feedback, providing feedback, impacts their business in their brand over time, and will and there is a group mean, there are candidates who tell us every year those who have an overall great experience and 93% of the North American candidates last year and similar in the other regions, they weren’t hired in our data, because we’re trying to emulate the real world, right? This is what most of those folks don’t get hired. They, there’s a 32% of them that actually were willing to increase their relationship to do stuff and to be referrals. And every time we talk about referrals, we’re talking usually about employee referrals. That’s always that’s the that’s the main way we talk about referrals. But there’s, you know, there are alumni referrals, right. But I did finally I talked to a company before the holidays that was talking about how they, they leverage rejection referrals. And I haven’t heard a company and we talked to him all the time about that, but they do they actually those who said they have an overall great experience, they actually tapped them for referrals. Oh, that’s genius. And, and it’s something to think about right for company. So that’s that’s the thing is that it’s a there’s a business impact the magic wand and think about those who’s who actually, even if they didn’t get hired, they’re willing to do stuff with you again, think about that. And think about that, from a consumer purchasing perspective, as well as referrals too.

William 27:11
I love that. I talked to a recruiter the other day, we’re we’re basically spitballing this idea of Okay, you can ask a candidate at the at point of acceptance letter, they either accept the job or they don’t. You can ask them when they go into being an employee, you can ask them two questions. You know, what went well? What did you like about the process? What can we change to make it better, but also the people that rejected you, the people that said no two at the offer level, is going to ask them the same types of questions. Right? So okay, those are just as important as both or both sets of data are important. But it’s being able to ask that question. It’s like, okay, hey, listen, the right not the right timing and some other things, whatever, you know, what could we have made? The, you know, what, what could we have done to make this a Yes, for you? And, and just, it’s kind of it’s a continuous improvement, but you know.

Kevin 28:10
It’s as important to know that and ask that it’s, I would argue that one of the data points that we capture are candidates who withdrawn why and that’s always a small and much smaller percentage of our data every year but you know, there’s positive reasons for candidates and negative reasons. Yeah, I mean, we didn’t know but but the negative reasons though, especially in North America, you can do something with it. You can and that’s the number one negative reason year after year in North America more than the other regions that we tracked the data in is that their time was disrespected during interviews and appointments every single year all fix all fixable.

William 28:46
I did it that’s what kills me is like, that’s fixable, that that’s just that, you know, some technology and mindset is respecting people

Kevin 28:57
Little things. And so and that, you know, the last sweep of that magic wand, William is the fact that a lot of stuff that we are taping the wall, and I am I’m not giving it back to my one, sorry. Now I’m running with it. So but the fact of the matter is, is that a lot of what we find every single year, does not need usually huge change management initiatives. It doesn’t need new technologies, although that could have an impact, too. Yes. It’s a little conflicted. It’s incremental improvements. Around communication, feedback, timeliness, all of these things make a huge I mean, little changes a little looking doing a communications audit of what you’re saying to candidates, what when the autoresponders even and the automated messages what little things testing, even you know, AB testing, like marketing, right? Go figure those things that can go miles or kilometers, depending on where you’re at in the world, right? With candidates, so There you go. So here, you can have that you can’t have that.

William 30:03
No, no, you’re keeping the wand. Brother, this was awesome. I’m so glad that we got to talk about the report and to catch up as well. So want to thank everyone for listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast and also thank Kevin for his time and all the good work that he does. So thank you, Kevin.

Kevin 30:21
William, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

William 30:23

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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