The New Candidate Journey Has Changed the Candidate Experience Game

The New Candidate Journey Has Changed the Candidate Experience Game

The nonprofit Talent Board has released its 2019 Candidate Experience Awards, a benchmarking report covering over 200 companies in North America and 130,000 job seekers that looks at what organizations focused on in their talent acquisition strategies in 2018 and what they are planning for this year, particularly with regard to candidate experience and employer brand. These issues were top of mind for recruiters going into 2019, Talent Board president Kevin Grossman tells SHRM’s Roy Maurer, with employers paying more attention to the perceptions and experience of not only job applicants, but passive and potential candidates as well:

“The candidate experience begins during talent attraction and sourcing, even before a potential candidate applies for a job,” he said. “Attracting candidates is one area of talent acquisition that has been given more and more attention and investment due to such a strong job market throughout 2018, with many more employers big and small across industries understanding just how competitive attracting and sourcing quality candidates truly is.”

The Talent Board’s report shows that 70 percent of candidates do some research on a prospective employer before applying for a job, leaning primarily on employers’ careers sites, job alerts, and careers pages on LinkedIn. According to our research at Gartner, however, candidates are doing less in-depth research into prospective employers before submitting applications than they did a generation ago. That means candidates aren’t engaging that much with employers’ recruitment marketing and branding materials early in their job search. As Craig Fisher, an industry thought leader and head of marketing and employer branding at Allegis Global Solutions, explains to Maurer: “A lot of candidates just apply, apply, apply and don’t really get into the employer brand materials you work so hard at creating until they get further into the process. They’ll begin to scout around when they’re brought onto the company’s careers site to start an application.”

Indeed, this shift is the key insight of our recent research at Gartner on the changing shape of the candidate journey.

In today’s tight labor markets, many employers are facing skills shortages and are desperate for talent, giving candidates the upper hand in the recruiting process and the luxury of letting prospective employers court them. At the same time, online recruiting processes have made it easier than ever to apply for jobs; LinkedIn’s “one-click application” feature is indicative of this trend. When candidates can submit an application with practically no effort, that application no longer signals that they are really interested in the job or the organization. They might scan a company’s careers site or check them out on LinkedIn or Glassdoor, but they aren’t necessarily making decisions at this point in the process about where they want to work or what kind of job they want.

So whereas candidates used to research jobs, narrow down a list of the jobs that interest them the most, apply to those jobs, and then talk to recruiters, now they take a different journey: First they apply to a bunch of jobs, then talk to the recruiters who get back to them, then do the research and identify which applications they’re serious about. This new journey creates a host of aggravations for recruiters, such as a deluge of applications from unqualified candidates or prospects “ghosting” them halfway through the recruiting process.

Ironically, this new journey isn’t making candidates happy, either, despite all the power they ostensibly have. The massive volume of applications means more good candidates get lost in the shuffle and never hear back from prospective employers; meanwhile, more candidates are making choices they regret and taking jobs they end up leaving quickly. For employers to address both their own woes and those of their candidates, recruiting strategies need to be refocused away from attracting as many candidates as possible and toward steering candidates toward good decisions, engaging high-quality and committed candidates while deterring applications from bad fits.

Gartner Recruiting Leadership Council members can read all of our latest research and use our tools to redesign your hiring process around the new candidate journey and drive candidate decisions that improve your recruiting outcomes.