What’s the real, tangible impact of a good (or poor) candidate experience?

It may seem like a no-brainer: as employers, we need to be providing potential employees with a journey that’s on a par with the experience we offer our most prized customers. The process should be easy and enjoyable, and candidates should get the information and feedback they require at each stage of the process. Even if they don’t achieve their desired outcome (getting the job), they should feel as if their time and energy has been appreciated and valued.


We know that offering a positive candidate experience has numerous benefits: candidates are more likely to speak favourably about our organisation to others, online and in person, and to buy from us and recommend our services and products. The flagship study supporting many of these claims is the Virgin Media experience: the company discovered they were losing approximately 7,500 customers per year: people who had applied for jobs with them and were unhappy about being rejected or their overall experience. Once they improved their application process, they began to claw back some of the estimated £4.4m per year they were losing due to poor candidate experiences.


While it makes sense that better candidate experiences equal better organisational outcomes, it’s often helpful to have a few stats up our sleeves when making a business case for investing in improvements.


Let’s take a look at some of the concrete ways that great (and poor) candidate experiences can impact your business.



Job acceptance


In their recent white paper, The far-reaching impact of candidate experience, IBM reports that, according to their 2016 WorkTrends survey conducted across 45 countries and a cross-section of industries, organisations and job families, candidates who are satisfied with their experience are 38% more likely to accept a job offer (54% vs 39%).


As we know, recruitment is both costly and time-consuming, which means a lot of wasted time and effort if your ideal candidates decline an offer due to a sub-standard experience.



Cost per hire


Having a great candidate experience leads to a more favourable employer brand, which in turn can reduce your cost per hire. A survey conducted by LinkedIn looked at recruitment costs across different organisations, and mapped them against overall brand strength. Their finding? The cost per hire is more than 2 times lower for companies with a strong employer brand.



Number of applications


Johnson & Johnson have focused heavily on improving its talent acquisition process, including the candidate experience. In October 2017, it introduced a program called J&JShine that they say is “able to offer job seekers experiences in line with what they have come to expect as consumers—searching for a job should be as easy as searching for flights, restaurants, products, and other services. Because candidates are familiar with the experience, their level of interaction and engagement goes up, creating a larger pipeline of qualified candidates and filling jobs faster.” In the short time since implementing Shine, candidate applications have increased by 14%.



Business relationships


TalentBoard has been conducting candidate surveys since 2010, with the goal of elevating and promoting quality candidate experiences. In their 2016-17 Asia-Pacific survey, they found that 39% of candidates who had a bad experience (rated 1 star) would sever their business relationship with the organisation, while 65% of those with a positive experience (rated 5 stars) would increase their business relationship. The study defines a ‘business relationship’ as alliance, product purchases and relationships – all of which add up to dollars earned.



As Kevin Grossman, TalentBoard president of global programs notes, each year the global survey results are very much ‘the same ol’ story’, and that there have been increases in negative sentiments across the world. And this comes at a cost: people are becoming more likely to sever ties with an employer who offers a poor recruitment experience.



On the other hand, he also points out that candidates are becoming even more likely to increase their business relationship with an employer who gave them a 5 star experience.




New customer acquisition


Not surprisingly, IBM’s WorkTrends survey also found that people who had a good candidate experience had a stronger desire to become a customer of the recruiting organisation than those who had a poor experience. And while 31% didn’t want to become a customer despite being satisfied with the process, this increased to 60% when people were dissatisfied with their treatment.



Sharing and referrals


TalentBoard’s 2016-17 APAC survey  found that of the candidates who had a positive experience, 78% would share the details with their inner circle (close friends, colleagues, family, peers) and 61% would share publicly in an online format. On the other hand, 45% of candidates who had a negative experience would tell those close to them, and 31% of the same group would speak about it online.



Similarly, IBM reports that 62% of people who were satisfied with their journey would happily recommend the organisation to others as an employer.



It’s evident that offering positive candidate experiences is not just a nice thing to do; it actually has tangible impacts for every organisation. Mapping out your candidate journey and then identifying the biggest pain points is a great start. More often or not, you can identify some quick wins that will have a significant impact on one or more of the areas mentioned above.



Deb Peacock | Manager, Customer Success

Deb joined Revelian in 2007. A continuous learner, she is passionate about HR, recruitment technology and best practices, customer success, user-centred product development, instructional design, copywriting and communications. She has degrees in both law and art, but her main passion is helping HR professionals to succeed by identifying and hiring the right people.