The resume black hole is getting a little brighter among companies that care enough about the experience of their candidates to submit their hiring process to a grueling inspection in hopes of being found worthy of a Candidate Experience Award.
This year, 37 of the 90 companies that entered won the two-year-old competition, seven of them with distinction. Most of the winners were large operations like Pepsico and Intel, with thousands or tens of thousands of employees. However, smaller firms like BTRG, with 500 or so employees, also made the list.
What all the participants share in common is a willingness to open their recruiting process to scrutiny.
Unlike almost every other HR award (excepting Great Places to Work designations), the Candidate Experience Awards are more report card than competition. Companies not only respond to a detailed survey about their recruiting practices, they also must submit their applicants — successful or not — who are also asked to complete a survey about the process.
The Talent Board, which manages the CandEs, benchmarks the results, giving each participating company its own report card. The best of the lot are honored with a CandE. There is no cost; participation is free and only winners are named.
For the industry, the results of the surveys and the resulting report are posted online, offering insights into what practices attract candidates and get them to apply and how they view the process from attraction to final disposition.
Generally, says the report, candidates are feeling better about the process, and especially about the communication once they became an applicant. Almost 78% reported getting an acknowledgement after submitting an application. Just over half got a note about the next steps in the process. Yet, when it comes to hearing more, 51.3% of the applicants said they heard nothing more about the status of their application.
Nonetheless, the Talent Board’s report observes:
On a positive note, the theoretical ‘black hole,’ where no status or notification is ever forthcoming, seems to be a decreasing practice among the firms that competed for the 2012 Candidate Experience Awards.
Divided into four parts, each exploring a different part of the recruitment process from “Attraction” to “Candidate Evaluation & Selection,” the report offers insights into specific practices, often contrasting the opinion of the employers with those of the candidates.
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For instance, employers were more positive about their ability to communicate bad news to candidates than were the recipients of the news. In another example, the report says,
In contrast to the employers’ description of their transparency, candidates report that they decide whether or not to apply to an open position based on their awareness and use of the Marketing and Job Specific content that is available to them during Attraction.
For the most part, candidates report that they are ‘not aware’ of much of the Content – Marketing or Job Specific – that companies are offering at the Attraction stage.
Nonetheless, the candidate surveys show the company career site is the most commonly used source of information about a company; 75.3% of candidates used them when considering employment. Next most popular source of information was career site job notifications, used by 57.6%. The only other sources used by candidates to even make it into double-digits were LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups, and mobile apps.
Curiously, while almost 79% of companies said they invested in employee referral programs, only 17.6% of candidates said they were both aware and used employees to become a referral. According to the report, the 1,615 candidates who were referred for a job had a big advantage over all other applicants — a third of them got hired. That gives referral candidate a four-fold advantage in getting hired.
Overall, using what the Talent Board calls the ‘gold standard’ — a candidate’s willingness to apply again — and whether they would refer others. To the former, 53% said they were “Likely” or “Highly Likely” to apply again. Only 43% responded that way when asked about making a referral.
What’s more, the report says “a growing and significant number” are willing are willing to share their experience publicly. More are willing to share a positive experience (31%) than a negative (20.2%). Note the Talent Board, “The effects of an employer’s candidate experience have the potential to echo loudly, often, and over time — impacting their potential to recruit the talent that they need.”