Tag Archive for Candidate experience data

UK Candidate Experience. Part 2. #CandE’s UK

This is day two of my look at the data and research that came back from researching the UK edition of the Candidate Experience Awards. There are three days to go in the series. You can get the full research HERE. This post is my opinion, and does not reflect the official line of the #CandeS.

Pre-application content.

Prior to application, the emphasis is on providing non-specific information. Detail like how often a job opening comes up, previous job holders etc is unlikely to be made public until deep in the application process. As most information is communicated by the recruiter in the process, the thinking behind this may well be that the recruiter can control the negative impact of a message to a candidate they are looking to attract. This is often referred to by recruiters as candidate control or selling the opportunity. By contrast, however, candidates are seeking this information before applying in order to opt in or opt out of an opportunity.
This could be a major factor in the high volume of applicants needed to fill a job. For many of the responding companies this was in excess of 85 per filled post, of which 60% are considered unqualified.
Only 44% of candidates were aware of the values of the organisation before applying, and an amazingly low 34%, the workplace and culture. Only 25% had access to the job spec before they applied.This can only result in candidates being in the process in order to find out there is no fit and opt out. With the reliance on recruiters to communicate this type of critical deal making or breaking information on a one to one basis, a high volume of response will significantly reduce the time available and opportunity to do this.

Full transparency in public channels reduces applications, because people choose to opt out or identify themselves as unqualified to apply. This creates the time needed to give a great candidate experience to those who remain in the process.

Feedback during the attraction phase

Only 1 in 8 of the companies who responded surveyed candidates during the application stage. Fewer than 10% of the candidate respondents felt the hiring company were interested in listening to feedback at this stage. The pre-application stage is the time when their is the most people in the process. Companies are relying on guesswork to determine if they are providing enough information in the right way to enable candidates to make informed choices. A good mantra for decision making over strategy is that “In god we trust, everyone else bring data.” Relying on random feedback between recruiter and candidate, when the candidate may well be doing their best to impress, will only lead to a false sense of security.

Good candidate experience is dependent on consistent data collection at every stage, including from those who determine not to apply.Companies who offered a good candidate experience for the most part collect data at every stage, and work to K.P.I.’s for satisfaction delivery throughout the end to end process.

Expression of interest

To the serious candidate, the expression of interest is a big decision. The point at which they are going through the conscious phase of potentially leaving their current employer and joining another, or committing their future to a hiring company. For many, it is not an easy decision to move from curious to committed. It requires time, and a sharing of what is considered confidential information. Hiring companies must respect this level of commitment in a candidate, and respond accordingly. A number of the CandE winners spoke of having a separate process and view of a candidate, and an applicant. The commonly held interpretation being that a candidate was anyone involved in the process,wether an interested party, a target or a visitor to career content, whereas an applicant is more specifically a candidate who expresses an interest in joining the organisation, usually by commencing the formal application process.Acknowledgement of the application, simplified admin through technology (CV parsing), and opt-in additional information to support an application are common practice in most of the organisations replying, with the underlying thinking being courtesy and convenience. It was interesting to note in the winners interviews that some of the winning companies had moved to a direct sourcing methodology in order to get the candidate enthusiastic and qualified before asking them to formally apply through technology.

Screening and knock out questions

Given the lack of information available pre-application in areas like job description, company values and culture, it is not a surprise that open jobs receive high volumes of response, and that employers have responded by looking to technology and screening questions to cut down the volume before applications get the recruiter’s attention. The longer the technical application process takes to complete, and the more intrusive the questioning, the more likely applicants will abandon the process before completion. 61.1% of the responding companies enable unqualified candidates to complete the full application process before rejecting them for being unqualified. Transparency over minimum requirements at the start of the application process would change this, perhaps offering an alternative route to connect with the company for future opportunities they may be qualified for such as a talent network, whilst increasing the probability that those who stay in the process meet the minimum criteria. Each of the distinction winners offer some level of talent network, that offers an alternative option to applying for a specific role.

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The real candidate experience in the UK #CandE’s UK

I was honoured to be asked to be a judge in the UK version of the Candidate Experience Awards this year. I’m a big fan of the essential work Gerry Crispin and his team are doing in this area.
As part of the judging, I got to see all of the data that came back from the candidate and client surveys. I like these awards because they recognise and benchmark best practice, are free to take part and are not a “first place” competition. They are free to take part, and its not a prize for the best company to buy a table, or belong to this or that trade association, organisation or group.It is not a prize for who has the best PR company. The results are data and research based, on the real candidate experience. It is open to every company who wants to take part and get a benchmark report, and it is free. I see no reason why any company should not want to take part, unless they are not really bothered about candidate experience. Please sign up for 2013!
Over the next 5 days I’m going to be publishing my thoughts on the public data. This is not the official report or comments. You can register for a free copy of the full report HERE. These are my learning points from having been involved in this process.

War for talent. (Engagement)

The term “war for talent” is a commonly used term to describe the competition for great potential employees. Universum describe this perhaps more accurately as the “battle for brain power,”The survey results suggest that the war for talent is in fact a war for other peoples talent. If we accept that this war is being waged on a daily basis, the results suggest that for 50% of the candidate respondents, poor process, untargeted talent attraction tactics, and poor use of technology results in many employers shooting themselves in the foot. Where a candidate has more than one potential employer, engagement and experience is critical in their decision making.

On line and traditional communication methods

It is encouraging to see employers experimenting with a wide range of methods to communicate pre-hire. The career site is unsurprisingly the primary source of communication. Mobile apps and text messaging received the second and third highest “do not use” response. Given the significant growth in Smartphone usage for web access, I would have expected greater experimentation in this area. This will become critical in candidate experience, as an increasing number of potential employees move from desktop access to mobile device, Traditional methods like career fairs and career sites dominate communication. This might make sense for active job seekers, but ignores the passive browsers. Employer communication is still largely broadcast, rather than engaging, with little or no use of features like live chat.


The awareness, by job seekers, of the opportunity to get referred by a contact within an organisation is low (16%). This is largely because hiring companies are concentrating their efforts (and investment), on the traditional application process. Career site to ATS, rather than promoting, or offering, alternative routes to application. Where a company operates an E.R.P, (employee referral program), these are predominantly dependent on the internal employees making the referral. Making connections within a company visible changes the emphasis, and drives the volume of referrals. Visibility is critical in this, through the use of social plug ins.

Social media in the job search

It is interesting to note that UK job seekers are twice as likely to use social media in the job search than their North American counterparts, whilst North American hiring companies are twice as likely to use social media channels to promote opportunities and employer branding content. It is surprising to note that despite heavy use of social media in the job search, the information provided has little impact on their decision to apply for a job. My feeling is that this is a reflection of the lack of mobile compatibility, (when job seekers are browsing the web in down time), and the redirect from social media to career site to ATS, with little opportunity to complete the whole application process within the channel.
Unsurprisingly, LinkedIn dominates in the areas of candidate engagement and prospecting, with 73.7% of the respondents using the channel in the job search, and Facebook with 44.4%. Google+, despite being a relatively new channel, is being used by nearly a quarter of the respondents, suggesting that this will only grow in importance over the coming year. The other results worth noting are that Twitter is almost non-existent in results, and that review site Glassdoor is making some serious in-roads in the UK with 11.4%. With the launch of a dedicated UK site by Glassdoor during 2013, we can expect this destination to grow in importance over the yeae, with potential applicants seeking reassurance from current employees and previous applicants before hitting the apply button. The absence of Twitter perhaps reflects the move by employers to replicate what they know i:e: the career site, on social pages rather than move to more open forms of engagement like live chat or twitter, where it is harder to control the message.
The LinkedIn result reflects the growing trend amongst direct employers to move to a direct sourcing model via LinkedIn, as reflected in the CandE winners interviews, with direct sourcing being cited as a big factor in improving the candidate experience, where relationships are established early in the process on a one to one basis, where candidates are pre-selected according to their profile.


There is a general recognition that all job seeking data indicates that potential employees look to research potential employers on-line in the application,interview and decision making process. In line with talent attraction, LinkedIn dominates the communication channels, with over 70% of responding companies adding content, followed by Facebook pages with 40% and unlike the job seekers, Twitter features with 21%, slightly behind Google+. Smart employers are recognising that individuals have preferred channels to communicate in, and are spreading their content across all of the available channels, whilst others are communicating almost exclusively in LinkedIn, reflecting the dominance of the channel in recruiting terms. Employers continue to communicate through single destination career pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, replicating the thinking behind single destination career sites. The growth in culture branding, personal brands for recruiters, referral networks, talent networks (like StackOverflow), and mobile will cause some disruption to this thinking, with individuals looking to connect with individuals for authentic communication over corporate marketing content.
The majority of information is made available via the website or through direct contact with a recruiter. Information is least likely to be made available through social media channels, although awareness to why people work for an individual employer, awards and sustainability are the content most likely to be shared in social media. This is perhaps a perception of what content interests candidates in social media channels, with access to more varied information being dependent on access to individual recruiters. Where volumes of candidates are small, this is manageable, but sectors attracting higher volumes make individual one to one communication harder to sustain, impacting on candidate experience. The conversion ratio of applications to interview to hire is a far more effective measure than volume of applicants, though the latter is often the principal measure for talent attraction.

Be great to hear your thoughts,


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