Why Your Negative Candidate Experience Is Holding You Back

Why Your Negative Candidate Experience Is Holding You Back

Emily Smykal

Does your candidate experience look the same as it did a year ago? Five years ago? Even more? Maintaining the status quo is the easy thing to do in many situations, and it’s become especially noticeable in the job application process.

Try applying for a job on your own career site or another, just to see what it’s like. The experience may be even worse than you think. Online application instructions can be confusing, and some won’t even work if you’re using the wrong browser. Some forms run onto multiple web pages, and after you’ve tediously filled in every line, it can be difficult to go back and make changes.

These problems aren’t new but they’re getting worse as employers stick with what they know while candidate expectations, and the utility of the internet itself, continue to evolve. We’ve reached a point where some candidates won’t even consider an employer if the application process is too negative. In this post we’ll explain just what a bad candidate experience is costing employers, and discuss strategies to improve things from an applicant’s point of view.

The Costs of a Bad Candidate Experience

Software Advice, a company that hosts reviews of HR tech, surveyed a pool of job seekers to learn more about the effect of a negative candidate experience. They asked what action candidates would take after having such an experience while applying for a job:

negative candidate experience
An overwhelming majority–83%–claimed they would be somewhat to much more likely to never apply to that company again. A further 63% felt they would likely not take a job offer, and even 42% said they were more likely to not buy that company’s products. But perhaps even worse was the result that 59% admitted they would be more or somewhat likely to tell others not to apply there.

A willingness to recommend something (a company, a product) to someone else is one of the most significant endorsements we can give. So if candidates are telling their friends not to apply to your company after they’ve had a bad candidate experience, how likely do you think it is that friend will apply anyway? Your chances of attracting candidates who’ve heard negative feedback about your organization as an employer look slim to none.

So a weak candidate experience isn’t just turning off existing applicants–it acts as a deterrent for future applicants. At this point recruiters may be wondering what makes a candidate experience so negative. Besides the obvious like an ATS apply flow that crashes or cannot be completed, Software Advice found that 55% of applicants were put off by a long overall application process. Which makes sense, as the longer it takes to complete something, the more likely it is some people won’t make it to the end.

job application lengths and drop off rates
The Flip Side: the Impact of a Good CE

Maybe you think your candidate experience isn’t that bad, or that the negative effects it has aren’t costing you that many applicants. But when recruiters consider the positive results from a good candidate experience, the costs of not improving become even worse.

In the same survey, Software Advice found that a positive candidate experience led 96% of respondents to consider applying to the company again in the future:

good candidate experience statistics
A further 93% said they were somewhat to much more likely to accept a job offer from a company with a good candidate experience, and 88% would consider telling others to apply to the same employer. That’s a lot of goodwill generated among applicants simply by offering a candidate experience that matches an applicant’s expectations.

The gap between positive and negative candidate experiences, and the choices they lead applicants to make, will only widen as some employers refuse to upgrade the experience they offer.

The Solution? Be More Strategic

Improving your candidate experience means taking a longer-term, holistic view of the process. The steps an applicant goes through are more than just a series of forms to fill out. The candidate’s journey starts with their search, which may be on job boards or through search engines, but typically leads to your organization’s career website. So recruiters need to review that site itself and its functionality. Have you invested in responsive design and advanced search within the site? There’s lots you could do.

What about your apply flow itself? Is it manageable from a timing perspective? Does it eliminate duplication? Is it well connected to social platforms and your talent network? If you haven’t already, try applying for a job on your career site yourself, and make a list of all the things that turned you off or simply didn’t work well.

Continuously reviewing and improving your candidate experience may require some upfront resources, but over time the benefits will soon outweigh the cost of making no improvements at all.

Looking to up your candidate experience game? Check out our latest eBook, 5 Definitive Principles of an Amazing Career Site Experience.

career site principlescareer site assessment

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