New Report Shows How Terrible the Fortune 500 Does With Job Seekers and the Candidate Experience

Here’s a pretty stunning statistic that tells you all you need to know about the state of candidate experience today. It’s this:

  • Only 2 percent of companies “are communicating the status of a candidate’s application throughout the entire duration of the (hiring) process.

In other words, an incredible 98 percent of companies are NOT communicating with job candidate’s during the recruitment and hiring process, and if this isn’t a sad indicator of the state of the candidate experience in today’s workplace, I don’t know what is.

This amazing statistic comes from the 2018 State of Talent Relationship Marketing Report from Phenom People, a company that describes itself as “the global leader in Talent Relationship Marketing … (with a) platform that automates the complex process of driving awareness, interest, engagement, and acquisition for qualified talent.”

I wasn’t terribly familiar with Phenom People before the recent HR Technology conference in Las Vegas, and I missed the release of its State of TRM report earlier this month in the runup to HR Tech. I wish I had gotten to this report sooner, but no matter because it’s one I think you’ll want to take a good look at.

That’s because the information-packed report showcases “the successes and failures of candidate experiences in the Fortune 500. Each company was scored and ranked with a numerical value to show how companies compare to one another in their talent acquisition strategy.”

The Candidate Experience? This Shows It’s Pretty Terrible

The report’s key findings are from Phenom People’s audit of the career sites of every company in the Fortune 500. What it found is pretty stunning and shows again how too many organizations — even the largest and most prominent ones — do little more than provide lip service when it comes to actually providing a good experience for those who want to come work for them.

For example, the report shows that companies continue to fall short in three essential categories: attraction, engagement, and conversion. And if you’re like me and have heard all the talk about how organizations are really getting serious about fixing their candidate experience, well, the data from this report shows that simply isn’t the case.

Here are a few of the highlights from the report. It showed that:

  • A whopping 92 percent of career sites do not have a social media login for candidates to submit their credentials from those social media profiles.
  • Some 93 percent of career sites do not detect the job seeker’s geographic location in order to suggest job openings close to them.
  • More than four out of five (84 percent) of companies lack personalization (such as social media integration to speed up applications, saved job carts, and other recommended jobs) in their candidate experiences.
  • Only one out of three (30 percent) have an “apply” button that is visible and accessible to the candidate at all times.
  • Only 12 percent of companies provide a “job cart” for candidates to save their job searches.
  • Nearly six out of 10 (59 percent) of companies do not include content on why candidates would want to work for them.
  • Fewer than one in five (18 percent) of companies have a very limited or non-existent quality of content, videos, and photos on their career site.

How Can a Fortune 500 company Have No Career Site?

One of the strengths of the State of TRM report is that it ranks every company in the Fortune 500 on how their talent acquisition teams “are utilizing their digital presence to attract and hire a workforce predominantly born online.”

That sounds like it’s focused primarily on millennials and Gen Z, but take it from someone who is older and has experienced the very worst of the candidate experience in just about every job applied for in the past two years: This report will resonate with any job seeker of any age and it should be a wake-up call for companies everywhere.

The report slices and dices the data by both industry segment (such as manufacturing, financial services, health care & pharmaceuticals, technology, etc.), as well as by a straight overall ranking.

Here are two things about this ranking of Fortune 500 companies that shocked me:

  1. The bottom 17 companies in this ranking are at the bottom because they have no career site at all. Yes, you read that right. Some of the largest companies in America think so little of their talent acquisition efforts that they don’t even give people who want to work for them a place to apply. Make of that what you will.
  2. Only 144 of the Fortune 500 earned a score of 50 or above in this ranking, meaning that 339 of the largest companies of the U.S. earned a rating of “Flawed” in Phenom People’s State of TRM report. This indicates that they had “had a broken experience due to a lack of: career site content; a simple apply process; candidate feedback and surveys post-apply; and entire exclusion of a centralized hub for all application submissions. These companies are at an immediate disadvantage in attracting top talent. They are not actively engaging the candidates they need to build a successful employee base.”

Only Eight Companies Got a Top Rating

In fact, only eight Fortune 500 companies earned the highest ranking of “Phenomenal” with score ranging from 77 to 92. They are:

  1. Express Scripts Holdings — 92;
  2. PVH — 90;
  3. Hershey — 84;
  4. Cognizant Technology Solutions — 84;
  5. Blackrock — 83;
  6. Microsoft — 81;
  7. Abbott Laboratories — 80;
  8. Toll Brothers — 77.

And how did these companies end up on top? According to the report,

“Top performers scored higher by providing an intuitive, efficient, and personalized talent experience. These high scores were attributed to: impactful and personalized career site content; robust and tailored job description language; and a simplified and user-friendly application process. These top-performing organizations are better positioned to compete in the war for talent as compared to the underperforming companies in this report.”

Here’s my take: I’ve written about this a lot, it seems, but the candidate experience still doesn’t get much respect despite all we seem to hear about it.

In fact, the most newsworthy thing to me about Phenom People’s State of TRM report is this: It tells you a lot of about the state of the candidate experience if those in the Fortune 500 — the largest and most prominent companies in America — don’t seem to care all that much about how they treat their job candidates.

There’s really no other conclusion you can draw when, as judged by this report, only eight large companies are doing it well, and another 356 earn a rating of “Flawed,” or worse yet, can’t be rated at all because they don’t even have a career site.

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I know … there may be some extenuating circumstances for a few of the companies who ranked poorly, but it’s speaks to the arrogance of a great many of those organizations on the Fortune 500 that they don’t seem to care about job candidates or how they fared in an analysis like this.

It makes you wonder what all those Fortune 500 CEOs, who average $11 million a year in compensation (according to 2016 figures), are doing to earn their pay.

My guess is that the companies that excel at treating job candidates right are the smaller ones that have to work harder and use every tool they’ve got to really compete for top talent. The Fortune 500?  Some of them still compete hard, but a lot have gotten lazy when it comes to talent — and that one fact will come back to bite them at some point.

Phenom People’s State of TRM report should be a wake-up call for everyone, and you should get a copy and spend some time with the findings, because it proves again that when it comes to attracting top talent, a small, nimble, and committed company can run rings around the lumbering giants in the Fortune 500.

Better get going before the big guys wake up to that fact.

About the survey: To gauge how talent acquisition teams are using their digital presence to attract and hire a workforce predominantly born online, Phenom People audited the 63rd annual Fortune’s 500 list of companies’ candidate experiences and focused on three categories’ efficiencies: attraction, engagement, and conversion. You can get a copy of the State of TRM report here.

John Hollon

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.