Candidate Experience – ENOUGH Already!

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John Whitaker

Candidate Experience_young businessman in waiting room for job interview being anxious, on a row of chairs

“Candidate experience.” Conduct a quick search on Google and you get just over 540 million hits. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when “candidate experience” became the latest entrant in the game of corpspeak Bingo, but this buzzword has created a cottage industry within the HR community - consultants, vendors, job boards, bloggers, “SME’s” – everybody’s selling something, and right now the hot product is candidate experience.

Focusing on the candidate experience seems logical – by making it faster, easier, and more engaging for the candidate, you get the edge on the other guys. And in a hiring market that could very well be the most competitive we’ve ever seen, any blip in the candidate’s journey through the hiring process could cost you a hire.

But proceed with caution.

For those of you/us who are sitting in the corporate world, there’s a bit of a risk when you’re truly beefing up your candidate experience. It may outpace something equally, if not more, important.

The employee experience.

Talent Acquisition is a two-front war, friends. If you can’t keep the ones you have, you’re just spinning your wheels hiring new ones to replace ‘em. And the numbers are telling a story – when it comes to keeping our employees, we’re not doing it very well.

Just looking at the last five years, there are some meaningful trends that show how the employee experience ain’t what it used to be (and keep in mind, this is with unemployment at only 3%):

  • Turnover is increasing; even more telling is this:
    • Voluntary turnover accounts for 70% of all turnover
    • 50% of voluntary turnover occurs in Year 1
    • 40% of voluntary turnover occurs in the first six months
  • Tenure is decreasing
    • In 2014, average tenure was 4.6 years
    • In 2019, average tenure is 3.2 years
  • Engagement suffers
    • 73% say they are “thinking about another job”

Talent acquisition has upped their game – as an industry we fully embraced the need for new ways to market, new ways to apply, new ways to interview, and new ways to engage the candidate population as the competition for talent became increasingly combative.

But is it a competition with the goal of “winning” or with the goal of hiring a long-term employee? Is the recruitment marketing and red-carpet process for candidates setting up a disconnect with the actual experience of being an employee? If your recruiting message is more of a sales pitch than an actual description of the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, you’re setting yourself up for more than one complication (you may even read about it on Glassdoor.)

You can make the candidate experience a smooth ride; dazzle them with your EVP, enchant them with video messaging, get them to the front door on Day 1 – but then what?

Look at your turnover rates, especially in the first six months, and analyze each position individually. If you have an alarming percentage of employees leaving in a short time frame, you may very well have a disconnect between what you’re selling and what you’re providing.

And, as a recruiter, if you can’t change the latter, you need to adjust the former. “Candidate experience” should include a reality check about expectations, challenges, and the potential risks involved with actually walking a mile in those shoes.


Next installment – “We’re all Millennials…”