August CandE Pulse Results: We’ve Barely Made a Dent

Examining the state of candidate experience.

Sep 6, 2023

I’m a half-glass-full kind of person. Always searching for the rainbow after a rain. The hopeful romantic. The perpetual optimistic.

But this year has challenged my usually positive demeanor, especially about business. The business of recruiting and hiring. More than the pandemic, the great recession, or even the dot-com belly up back in the day. Not only has it been a challenging year for us at Talent Board, it’s been a challenging year for the greater recruiting and hiring industry.

From leaders to recruiters to recruiting solution and service providers, it’s been a tough 2023. Not for everybody of course, but for many bodies we continue to hit a wall — tight budgets, lower revenues, churn, layoffs, burnout, ghosting, and most likely more to come.

The economic irony is that hiring held steady again in August, with employers adding 187,000 jobs, with health care, hospitality, and construction among the industries that added the most jobs. The unemployment rate rose in August to 3.8 percent, but that was mainly because more than 700,000 new people joined or re-joined the workforce. The job market’s been cooling, but still hanging in there.

However, the actual candidate experience of looking for a job has deteriorated this year, with another irony being it’s gotten really bad for those who are supposed to help make it better. I continue to hear from seasoned talent acquisition leaders, who after applying for many positions, only received minimal feedback from a few after being interviewed, if that. It’s especially disappointing for those who have advocated for a better candidate experience, and more colorful words were used to describe their current experience. It’s the same sentiment from front-line recruiters

No matter what the job market looks like, every year our candidate experience benchmark research shows us that the highest rated employers are those that give feedback to interviewed candidates.

And yet, after over 200,000 candidate responses in this year’s program, most of whom didn’t get hired, candidate resentment is on the rise again globally, and the number of candidates across job types who told us that they had a “great” experience this year has declined significantly.

The great experience being positive and fair enough for the candidate to be willing to apply again, refer others, be a brand advocate, and/or be a customer (see Figure 1). The poor experience, or candidate resentment rate as we call it, is the percentage of candidates who won’t apply again, refer others, be a brand advocate, and/or be a customer (see Figure 2).

However, in our latest CandE Community Pulse results for August, the good news is that hiring continues to be stable and again reflects the bigger jobs reports the past few months. We had over 100 responses from companies big and small across industries (over 46% this time were 2,500-100,000+ in employee size, and hiring held steady again in August most represented industries were technology, manufacturing, consumer goods, government – public sector, healthcare, and services).

When we asked employers what their current hiring status was, 78% said “we’re hiring,” up slightly from July, but still stable over the past six months (see Figure 3). Freezing hiring was down slightly from July, and redeploying and laying off were both down.

All job types being hired for increased in August, except for entry level hires (see Table 1). We also asked employers whether they’ve increased or decreased the size of their recruiting team this month, and for the past three months it’s stayed steady at nearly 71% stating there’s been no change (see Figure 4). Teams increased in July but were down again in August.

The job requisition load of up to 30 reqs each per recruiter increased in August, increasing 19% from 63% to 75%. Those carrying up to 50 reqs each (90% of all the responses) increased 8% in August. Of course, while we want to assume this could be a sign of growth, we understand that req loads always vary by job type, industry, and employer size, and again the fact that many recruiting teams are stable but leaner these days.

As we do each year in our benchmark, and now monthly since January, we again highlight how employers rated their own recruiting and candidate experience. When we compare the August CandE Pulse results to July, those companies that felt like they were leading in their recruiting and hiring practices and their candidate experience jumped up again dramatically by 114% (see Figure 5).

Because of the limited number of survey questions and the different mix of companies that respond each month to our pulse surveys, and the fact that these are self-ratings, we do have to be careful of what exactly is really going on, so we’ll have to wait and see if this trend continues in September. Those that said they were competing continues to increase, which is what we like to see. But those who said they were improving decreased 24%. Lagging also decreased, which is also what we like to see.

Also, according to our August monthly CandE Pulse results, screening and interviewing was the #1 recruiting and hiring initiative for those employers that responded. When compared to our latest CandE benchmark research data that we’re just starting to review, screening and interviewing has been a struggle for employers the past few years, and it has been a priority (in the top 5) according to our pulse surveys since February (see Table 2).

Candidate experience dropped to #2, diversity and inclusion jumped back to number #3 (we’re glad to see it being reprioritized), employee referrals landed at #4, and recruiting events came in at #5. This is the first time that it’s been in the top 5, so we do hope that it’s a continuous positive hiring sign in the months to come.

When it comes to the top five ways employers are accomplishing the above priorities, improving processes jumped back to #1. And for the past eight months, candidate and employee survey feedback has helped inform employers where recruiting, hiring, and retention improvements need to be made (see Table 3).

Flexible work schedules (remote/hybrid) jumped back into the top 5 for the first time since April. While recruiting and hiring professionals have had historically more flexibility in where they work, the return-to-the-office mandates could potentially impact recruitment marketing efforts.

The employers that respond to our CandE Pulse survey each month vary, but we do know that no matter the mix, consistent recruiting and hiring while sustaining a quality candidate experience is difficult for many. We’ll keep sharing these key Pulse indicators with everyone each month. Also, our 2023 CandE Benchmark Research Reports will be available by the end of the year.

We’ve worked hard to make a difference with our candidate experience benchmark research for the past 12 years, to help companies improve their recruiting processes and candidate experiences. Another irony is that there is a small universe of companies that consistently improve and sustain, but sometimes it feels like we’ve barely made a dent in the wall.

Blessings to those who continue to make those dents.

Don’t forget that today is ATAP Global TA Day! A day where we celebrate TA professionals across the globe!

Until the next monthly CandE Pulse results update, be safe and well.

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