CandE Companies Do Better, But Most Candidates Still Hear Nothing

Bad cand experience CareerBuilder survey 2013Hard on the heels of the release of the Candidate Experience Awards Report comes word from CareerBuilder that the vast majority of candidates who apply for a job never hear a word after submitting their resume.

Surveying 3,991 employed, full-time workers, CareerBuilder found 75% of those who applied for a job never heard from the company. So common is that silence that only 82% of the candidates actually expect to hear something, even just a perfunctory, “Got your application.”

Contrast that with the experience of the thousands of candidates surveyed as part of the CandE awards research. Almost 78% reported getting an acknowledgement after submitting an application. And more than half of the applicants to the 90 companies taking part in the evaluation said they got a note describing the next steps in the process.

While even among the 37 winning companies the process wasn’t without its issues, overall 53% of the candidates would apply again. A majority are willing to tell their friends about their experience; some are willing to post about it on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or elsewhere.

CareerBuilder’s survey not only confirmed that candidates spread the word, 22% would tell others not to work there if they were unhappy with the way their application was handled. Forty-two percent would never apply to that company again.

“From the second job seekers are viewing your job ad and applying to your company, they are forming an opinion of who are you as an employer and as a business,” said CareerBuilder’s Senior Director of Talent Intelligence, Sanja Licina.  “One bad applicant experience can have a ripple effect with candidates not only vocalizing their dissatisfaction with how they were treated, but encouraging others not to apply or even buy products from that company.”

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How many have a bad experience? Just over a quarter; 26% reported “a lack of follow through, inconsistencies from the employer or poor representation of the company’s brand as the primary culprits,” says the survey report. The biggest cause of a bad experience — cited by 60% — was not letting a candidate who was interviewed know the decision. Next, said 43%, was discovering during the interview that the actual job didn’t match the job posting.

In a separate bit of research, CareerBuilder did its own review of the candidate experience. CareerBuilder said it “tracked the opinions of more than 1 million job candidates who applied for positions in more than 1,000 companies.  The study was created to identify best-of-breed practices in engaging and interacting with job candidates and enable other companies to see how their own programs stack up.

“Companies were evaluated based on timeliness of response to applications and follow through, candidate’s assessment of how knowledgeable the company’s recruiters are and how well they represented their company brand, whether candidates would recommend the company or apply again, and other factors.”

Shell Oil Company, MB Financial Bank, Pinstripe, and Baptist Memorial Health Care won kudos from the company “for their excellence in providing a consistently exceptional candidate experience across their organizations.” More details are in the survey announcement here.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


5 Comments on “CandE Companies Do Better, But Most Candidates Still Hear Nothing

  1. Thanks, John.
    “While even among the 37 winning companies the process wasn’t without its issues, overall 53% of the candidates would apply again.” So let me see if I got this right:
    (For whatever reasons) BARELY HALF of applicants to the VERY BEST candidate experience companies would apply again?

    Keith “This Surprised Even ‘Mr Cynical’ Here” Halperin

  2. Hi Keith! Actually to better explain the CandE Research data. 53% of the candidates said they were likely or highly likely to apply again. 33% actually said they were neutral. (we used a scale in the question). Only 14% said they were likely or highly likely to not apply again. Reviewing the hundreds of comments received, that 14% also reflects individuals that referenced themselves with comments like:”I wouldn’t apply again because I was hired, or I am an employee”. Based on the CareerBuilder data of 42% reflecting they would never apply again to their general audience, I think it is safe to say the companies profiled as winners of the CandE Awards continue to demonstrate organizations that are passionate about creating a positive experience and the overall candidate results validate that effort.

  3. @ Elaine Orler:

    Is there any evidence that they actually do apply again, or any evidence whether or not this leads to an eventual hire, and so a presumably a decent ROI for the time and money spent on improving candidate experience?

  4. @ Elaine: Thank you.I’m curious if CandE is an overall survey of companies, or just companies that wished to compete. Either way, I’d think companies which tried to do ANYTHING would likely achieve far better results than those companies that didn’t do anything. Also, when companies start talking about being “passionate” about something, it’s time to hold your nose, watch your wallet, and probably head for the hills- the BSers and hype-meisters are out to par-tay!

    @ Richard: I think you can substantially get good ROI (at least through improved recruiter productivity, increased ERs resulting in lower CPR and better corporate “good will”/employer branding) through hiring $3.00 Virtual Candidate Care Assistants to make sure that each and every candidate has a professional if not actually pleasant candidate experience.
    It’s funny though- I’ve not actually heard of ANY companies willing to spend $3.00/hr/head to do this…I guess CE JUST ISN’T WORTH $3.00/HR TO THEM….



  5. @ Keith,

    Because I think that’s arguable. At a quick glance at the data I have in my own system, the last twelve months we’ve had just over 4200 applicants and 220 hires, which basically leaves 4000 people to care for who may apply again and may become a future hire. Also based on my data, that’s highly unlikely. Almost always, if we don’t hire someone, it’s because we don’t want to, not just because we don’t have a spot for them right then. And the ones I thought might have some potential for the future were kept warm and in the loop. But doing that for all the candidates…

    Assuming about ten minutes spent on the phone with each one of these people with these reps you propose, to include the time spent calling, speaking, documenting, and any after call work, etc., you’re looking at just over $20000.00. That’s not chump change. It’s roughly equivalent to the cost of one 100K hire from a third party agency. I’d need to see something more concrete showing some gain in productivity and quality of hire that translates to at least that much of a gain before I tried to argue for the money to make sure everyone is cared for at a certain level. And while I do understand some candidate’s frustration, I think any attempt at GARP would have to acknowledge that, at least for corporate side recruiters, that’s just what we are: recruiters. Not career coaches. I saw a much greater need for more in depth contact with candidates when I was on the agency side, I think this would be much more suited for them.

    Not to mention that at 3 bucks an hour I don’t think these candidate care operators would be US located, and I don’t think having your candidate care going the way of Dell’s customer support where, despite intentions and expertise, many people talking to them simply can’t understand them because of the language barrier, would be considered by many to be a positive. The likely result I see is more calls directly to the recruiters because information wasn’t clear on the care call, and dissatisfaction not with a lack of communication, but confusing communication.

    I’m not sure how much good it would do.

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