The 2022 North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report by Talent Board comes at a time of continued business anxiety. It also comes at a time when we need improved recruiting practices to improve recruiting success and company revenues.
While Covid-19, now endemic, is less of a fear, economic anxiety remains because of high inflation (6.5 percent for 2022, but down from 9.1 percent in June 2022), the war in Ukraine, growing tensions between the world’s democracies and totalitarian states, high gas and commodity prices, and continued uncertainty about China as a reliable global manufacturing supplier. And in the United States, there is a continued labor shortage (estimated to be about 3 million) that will last the decade.
While headlines were being made by high-tech layoffs (over 150k employees), January US hiring numbers were a shocker: 517,000 jobs and 11 million job openings at the end of December, nearly twice the number of unemployed. Unemployment fell to 3.4 percent — a 53-year low, since before humans walked on the moon. Wage growth slowed slightly to 4.4 percent in January from a year earlier.
Recruiting and retaining employees is a top business and HR concern.
I have used the Talent Board repeatedly for benchmarking and in my book, Hack Recruiting. Talent Board’s recruiting research for 2022 has found that employers are facing resentment in the marketplace.
Says the Talent Board report, “Employers are going through a reset in a challenging market. They’ve reassessed the experiences they’re delivering — and how candidates are responding.” In addition the report notes, “When organizations provide a great experience, candidates indicate a willingness to maintain a relationship with the business or brand, while poor candidate experience can lead candidates to break ties with your brand.”
In order to be proactive and win the recruiting war in 2023, the Talent Board offers the top 10 takeaways from their North American Talent Board Candidate Experience benchmark research to improve recruiting and company revenue:
1 – Candidate resentment is on the rise around the world
Candidates who said they had a “negative” overall experience tell us every year they will take their alliances, product purchases and business relationships somewhere else. A poor candidate experience means a potential loss of revenue for consumer-based businesses, hurts referral networks for all companies and affects which great candidates will apply again. Most companies depend on referrals, which can make up 20 percent to 40% of their annual hires. However, the good news is that those who had a “great” overall experience, said they’ll definitely increase their employer relationships — they’ll apply again, refer others, make purchases and/or influence purchases when applicable.
2- Recruiting technologies drive communication and engagement.
Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of Talent Board’s North American Candidate and Experience (CandE) Winners for the best recruiting practices said they used a text-based recruiting system this year, slightly more than all other companies combined in our research, which has increased steadily since 2020. Job alerts and text-to-apply notifications can increase positive candidate sentiment and perception of fairness due to consistent communication.
3 – Candidates love to learn about company values.
CandE-Winning organizations have a 31 percent higher NPS (Net Promotor Score) rating in the research/attract stage (56 compared to 41 for all companies in North America). This includes providing content around company values — something that’s never been more valuable to candidates in our research. Company values jumped to the number one type of marketing content consumed during research in 2022, with 48 percent of all candidates citing it as most important, up an incredible 109 percent from 2021.
4 – Employers control the communication and engagement dials
Employers control the dials of how they respond to interested candidates, when they respond, with what frequency in which they respond and the words they respond with. This includes direct communications and feedback loops. Unfortunately, 34 percent of candidates were still waiting one to two-plus months on next steps after they applied, 48 percent more than in 2021. For CandE Winners, only 26 percent of candidates were still waiting for a hiring decision because these companies make decisions more quickly and consistently.
5 – The application stage is a very limited experience for candidates
It’s important to note that the point of application is a very limited experience for most candidates. It’s mostly automated, and even though organizations control the tech dials at this stage, there isn’t much, if any, human interaction. Timely and personable communications is still key. One of the biggest differentiators at the application stage is the fact that the highest-rated companies in our research (CandE Winners) are making decisions about candidates within three to five days after they apply — at most, one to two weeks. They also give follow=up dates and keep them, and provide feedback to candidates, usually finalists in the interview process.
6 – Candidates want a higher level of positive perceived fairness
Perceived fairness is very subjective, but when candidates are in the running for a position and are being screened and interviewed, their positive sentiment tends to increase — at least until they’re told they’re no longer being considered.
7 – Using structured interviews, telling candidates next steps and giving feedback improves candidate ratings
More organizations are taking steps toward a more candidate-friendly and fair interview process, one that is structured with a consistent process and set of questions across job types in an effort to reduce bias. This year, the highest-rated CandE Winners conducted structured interviews 20 percent more than all employers combined, and all CandE Winners conducted them 12 percent more often than all employers combined. Structured interviews usually drive higher positive candidate ratings and a higher level of perceived fairness. Also, candidates’ willingness to refer others was 71 percent higher when they were provided with information on their job fit and candidacy status at the end of the interview day.
8 – Asking for feedback is always better
Candidates who were invited to provide feedback after the interview were 65 percent more likely to refer others. And CandE Winners asked candidates for feedback after being screened and interviewed 15 percent more than all other companies combined in 2022.
9 – Onboarding activities can improve early retention
For the past few years, candidate experience was the number one recruiting focus in our surveys, but it fell off in recent years. Last year, it came in at No. 5. But this year it’s the number one recruiting focus. Companies have struggled with pre-boarding and onboarding during the pandemic years. It is time to turn that around. Only 40 percent of candidates said they received a call from a hiring manager prior to starting, and only 24 percent received texts. But if they do get a call or a text from a hiring manager, their willingness to increase their relationship increased 87 percent. The key here is that the more engagement prior to their start date, the better a retention starter it becomes.
10 – The business impact of candidate experience is referrals.
The more positive the candidate experience, the more likely candidates are to refer others to apply for the company’s roles— CandE Winners have a 31 percent higher willingness to refer others.
Downloading Talent Board’s 2022 complete report will provide many more insights to improve recruiting and company revenue.
Recruiting will remain a business priority in 2023 for most businesses as economic uncertainty continues and the war for talent, especially your best talent, will rage on in a US national workforce with a labor shortage.
Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and managing partner of InnovationOne, LLC. He works with organizations to transform HR and recruiting, implement remote work, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. He is quoted business journals such as The Wall Street Journal, Workforce Management, and CEO Magazine. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at http://www.VictorHRConsultant.com.