In a Candidate-Driven Market, Candidate Experience Matters

The monthly unemployment rate  has been trending down for years and is now at a 16 year low. This trend is especially good for jobseekers, even as it makes hiring for employers more competitive than ever.

The job market has clearly shifted in the applicant’s favor, and that’s particularly so for workers with specialized skills. “Candidate-driven market” is the term to describe this shift, but what, exactly does it mean?

The candidate-driven job market

Employment numbers shed light on the factors making this  a candidate-driven job market. During  the Great Recession of the last decade, nearly nine million jobs were lost and unemployment hover just below 10%. But, since then the economy has regained all the jobs lost and 6.7 million more. The unemployment rate is 4.3%. Meanwhile, the percentage of the population in the labor force is at a 40 year low.

Job seekers are finding more opportunities than ever before. The MRINetwork 2016 Recruiter & Employer Sentiment Study found 86% of recruiters and 62% of employers agreeing candidates are now in the driver’s seat.

Recruiters know the pain of trying to fill certain positions. According to Jobvite, 65% of recruiters claim talent shortage is the biggest challenge in hiring. In its 2016 Global Recruiting Report, LinkedIn stated that the three biggest obstacles to recruiting were:

  • Finding suitable candidates (46%)
  • Employee compensation (43%)
  • Competition for talent (39%)

Employers that take too long to hire will miss out on the best candidates because it’s not unusual for in-demand workers to get multiple offers. Thus it has never been more important to provide a great hiring experience for your candidates and bring them on board as quickly as possible.

What today’s candidates want

Candidates favor companies with strong employer brands and strong company culture. Candidates want to feel inspired, motivated, and they want opportunities to learn.  In today’s competitive job market, candidates are looking for more than just salary. They are looking for a company where they can learn new things, feel that their work is meaningful and are happy. If employees are happy, they tend to work harder and be more productive with less turnover.

Candidate experience is critical

In the candidate-driven job market, it is becoming more critical for companies to create a better candidate experience during the entire hiring process. Keeping an applicant informed of the status of their application, interviews and background screening process will go a long way towards creating and maintaining a positive experience. If hiring takes too long, it could cause the candidate anxiety, which could lead to them taking an offer at another company. It is important to set the expectations with the candidate early and tell them what will happen as they go through hiring process.

It is not a secret, criminal background checks and drug screening are intrusive and most candidates do not understand the screening process. Being transparent during screening is crucial — and not just because it is required for compliance reasons.

Finally, a good onboarding experience will make the new employee feel great about their decision to take the job at your organization and help them feel prepared to start the job on a high note on the first day.

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The candidate experience business impact

Candidate experience has a direct impact on the business. Jobseekers share their hiring experiences with friends and family on social media and elsewhere. According to the WorkPlaceTrends Candidate Experience Study, almost 60% of job seekers report having a poor candidate experience. Of those, 72% shared information on the bad experience online on an employer review site, such as Glassdoor, on a social networking site or directly with a colleague or friend. Negative experiences can impact the employment brand as well as making candidates less likely to do business with consumer-facing employers.

It is becoming more critical for companies to create a better candidate experience. Candidate well-being must be a consideration in everything a company does from filling out applications to day one paperwork. Offering the right compensation and benefits to a candidate plays a big role in ensuring their future happiness at the organization.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Sterling Talent Solutions blog.