What We Can Learn from Talent Board’s 2019 Candidate Experience Research

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The candidate experience is more important than ever.

If you had a nickel for every time you heard that phrase, then you’d probably be trying to get ahold of Bill Gates for suggestions on what to do with all your money.

Unfortunately, it seems that employers have begun to tune this message out. Or so says the 2019 Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report. Its findings show a surprising trend: If a candidate has a negative candidate experience, then they’re increasingly willing to sever their relationship with that employer.

Thankfully, though, the same research shows that the path to a better candidate experience is pretty straightforward. Let’s dig in.

Candidate Resentment Is Surging

Here’s the reality: Candidate resentment is on the rise.

There has been a 40% increase in candidate resentment since 2016. And when comparing 2019 and 2018, we see that candidates are less likely to apply to the same company again based on their experiences. They’re also less likely to recommend a company to others.

When considered broadly, the trends can lead to two slightly different conclusions. Either the candidate experience itself has gotten worse, or candidates themselves are embracing the leverage they have in the marketplace. The odds are that the results are a mix of both factors, but they also show the tightrope that employers face as they craft their candidate experiences.

Flip the Script with Communication

Talent Board research also shows that there’s a simple way for employers to lower their resentment scores: communication. When employers invest in communication and feedback, the candidate experience improves significantly, and investing in technology can give organizations a means of creating positive candidate experiences.

For example, candidates who were able to ask a chatbot questions consistently rated their candidate experience higher than those who weren’t. Additionally, candidates who communicated with a chatbot were 80% more likely to increase their relationship with the employer, and candidates who received mobile text notifications during the research process rated their candidate experience 50% higher than those who did not.

However, automation can only go so far. When it comes to rejection, candidates still want to hear the bad news straight from the horse’s mouth — and not from a robot’s. Candidates prefer to receive news of rejection by a phone call — not an automated email. Positive candidate experience ratings increase by 23% when candidates receive the bad news via phone call.

Feedback Matters Even More

Do you want to improve the candidate experience? Ask for feedback. No matter which stage a candidate is in, the solicitation of feedback is proven to increase a candidate’s perception of their experience. Here are the stats that show it — overwhelmingly:

  • When candidates are asked for research feedback, there’s a 72% increase in a great candidate experience and willingness to increase the relationship with the organization.
  • When candidates are asked for application feedback, there’s a 72% increase in a great candidate experience and willingness to increase the relationship with the organization.
  • When candidates are asked for screening/interview feedback, there’s a 148% increase in a great candidate experience and willingness to increase the relationship with the organization.
  • When asked for feedback before the start date, 76% of new hires are more willing to increase their relationship with their new employer. That’s a great retention starter.

Lessons Learned from the CandE Winners

On average, this year’s CandE winners scored 144% higher than all other participating companies in North America — so they must be doing a few things right. Here are a few lessons you can learn from the 2019 CandE winners:

  • Listen to candidates.
  • Communicate often.
  • Ask for feedback, and provide feedback.
  • Set expectations about the recruiting process.
  • Hold your team accountable for improving the candidate experience.
  • Focus on fairness in the recruiting process.

For more information on the 2019 Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report, click here.


How Leaders at a 100-Year-Old Company Built an Innovative Recruiting Process

Tech and recruiting go hand in hand. It’s hard to recruit without a strong HR tech stack. But implementing these tools can be a challenge. If you work in HR, you may have experienced pushback from employees who don’t want to change their workflows, or from senior leaders who aren’t sold on the ROI of rolling out new recruiting tech.

But no matter how daunting change — or the Autobahn-like pace of it — may seem, tech is here to stay in HR, and if you want to attract quality candidates and create a candidate experience that serves them, you’ll have to embrace that change.

Angie Wesley, senior vice president and head of talent acquisition at TIAA, has overseen a wholesale change in the company’s recruiting process, as it has embraced new tech to navigate the modern candidate marketplace. “It was either going to come to us or we were going to have to join it,” she says. The tools have helped the organization, particularly in regard to creating a better candidate experience and creating a more streamlined process for compliance.

She shared her experience and advice for HR organizations implementing the tech tools they need to keep up with the Joneses.

Train, Train, and Train Some More

When it came to introducing new technology and automation to the recruiting process, Wesley says there wasn’t much organizational pushback, though she did have to navigate the concerns of her recruiters. “A lot of these recruiters are seasoned, so they have their own way of moving candidates through the process,” Wesley says. “We just had to make sure that we could show them how technology actually helps them, instead of inhibiting them.

To help recruiters understand the power of their new tools, TIAA used a variety of training programs, working with vendors to provide either in-person or web-based training. Wesley’s team also helped recruiters understand how their new tools had helped other businesses.

But Wesley says training isn’t just for implementation. Her team tracks the usage of some tools so they can see whether staffers are having issues. “If we have folks that are not using a certain technology or tool that’s in the process, we’re able to identify them and work with them to understand what the difficulty might be,” she says.

Put Candidates First

It should go without saying that employees’ comfort with their tech tools is a priority for organizations. But Wesley says the primary question TIAA asks about its recruiting tools is related to a different audience: candidates. “Candidate experience really sits at the front,” she says.

In order to meet candidates on their own terms, TIAA created a device-agnostic application process, and also updated its website to ensure it was mobile-friendly. “That was clearly a gap we needed to close,” Wesley says.

Candidates are provided assessments that can be done online on a schedule that is convenient to them, and TIAA has begun to embrace technology such as text messaging to further its commitment to reaching candidates on their own terms. “Not everybody’s checking their email,” Wesley says. “Texting is real time, and that allows us to immediately get some responses.”

The company also started a talent network to demonstrate its value to potential candidates, even if there isn’t necessarily a job available at the moment.

Wesley says TIAA’s embrace of technology is helping it meet the demands of a candidate-centered employment market. TIAA uses video interviews so that candidates don’t necessarily have to come to the office. “The majority of the population is currently working, so it’s a passive market,” Wesley says. “We don’t really want to intrude or disrupt their day.”

Keep Recruiting Human

Ultimately, rolling out tech in the recruiting process comes with an important consideration: making sure you keep the human element front and center. “What we are finding is candidates still want that human touch in the process somewhere,” Wesley says. “They don’t want technology to take care of everything.”

While Wesley says there’s no magic formula, she believes recruiting leaders need to understand the importance of telling their story and highlighting what makes their organization a unique place to work. “It’s hard to get technology to tell that story versus a human on the phone,” she says. In other words, technology is just the first step. “We leverage technology to start the conversation, and then we step in to finish it.”

#WorkTrends: Build a Better Candidate Experience

With the rise of LinkedIn and job boards, it’s easier to find qualified candidates now more than ever. However, with a robust job market and so branded recruited experiences, engaging with your candidates is actually even more challenging than it has been in the past.

In recruiting, the candidate experience is more important than ever, from how you engage with a candidate online to actually bringing them in for an interview. To help fill in the gaps, we sat down with an expert on CX, Scott Weaver, a talent acquisition leader at Teradata. He walked us through exactly why he’s “systemizing and operationalizing” the candidate experience at Teradata — and how you can, too.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Silver Bullet in Recruiting

As we think about candidate experience, Weaver cautions that, “there is no silver bullet in recruiting.” Weaver, though, believes that optimizing your candidate experience is as close as you can come to finding that elusive silver bullet. “You can systemize and operationalize how you’re treating people,” Weaver explains. However, very few businesses actually do it.

“Systemizing and operationalizing” your candidate experience can be difficult. If you have one or two great recruiters, they are already providing that amazing candidate experience you’re looking for. The issue comes with scaling beyond your two best recruiters. “You need to scale how you treat people. It gets really, really difficult to do that across the board.”

Streamlining and improving your candidate experience also does something great as well. Beyond beating your competitors for talent, it also serves to improve your organization’s brand. “It’s an opportunity to transform your brand from within,” Weaver says. A positive candidate experience — regardless of who is hired — will result in better word-of-mouth and lead to greater benefits down the road.

Lessons From the Candidate Experience at Teradata

Weaver and his team at Teradata have done the “systemizing and operationalizing” to improve their candidate experience, and it provides lessons for all of us.

To scale their model up, they decided to map out every single touch point the organization has with a candidate. From here, they created a checklist within their organization, addressing things from branding to technology to how they can treat candidates better. Weaver also suggests making it incredibly easy to find your job listings on your website. As simple as this may sound, it is something many companies do not do well.

Finally, Weaver addressed another aspect of recruiting that many have overlooked: reaching a candidate’s inner circle. Though we often think of a job board search as the first step in the job hunt, many candidates actually discuss their thoughts first with their inner circle. Marketing a job to someone who isn’t hunting for the job is difficult, but it’s something Weaver and his team have given a lot of thought to. They will soon implement a novel solution: they will have their new hires post on LinkedIn a small post that says, “I just started my job at Teradata. Ask me why.”

What Companies Get Wrong About CX

Weaver also has a few tips for those who are potentially going about redesigning their candidate experience. “Too many people are focused on the fluff,” he says. Don’t focus on providing perks for candidates, he says. Instead, Weaver believes companies should focus on the operation, ensuring consistency through their various recruiters.

But the most important thing, he believes, is to be transparent with your candidates. Let them know where you stand, and provide as much information as possible to the candidate about the position, so that both you and the candidate can determine the best fit. This, he says, is the best way to improve your candidate experience — by demonstrating a respect for the candidate and their time.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode