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Job Candidate Resentment Is a Real Recruiting Problem

The Talent Board has found that job candidate resentment—being so turned off by a recruiting process that it stirs up negative feelings toward a company—remains historically high. Candidate resentment spiked 75% in 2021, with the discontent hovering around those heightened numbers (more or less) ever since.

Comparing September 2023 survey results to those gathered just one month previous, the number of companies that felt they were leading in recruiting efforts and candidate experience dropped by an alarming 53%. It seems employers are getting the message that their efforts to curtail candidate resentment are falling short, but why does it matter?

“Even if employers tackle the root causes of rampant turnover (fair wages and benefits, safer work environments, work-life balance, etc.), it might do very little to relieve their talent shortages if they deliver an experience that repels job seekers…[it] can set up a vicious cycle that generates perpetual people shortfalls,” The Talent Board President Kevin Grossman writes.

He IDs these specific areas where employers are struggling the most:

  • Providing consistent communication during the process.
  • Setting expectations about the process.
  • Asking for and providing feedback.
  • Being transparent and accountable.
  • Ensuring a high level of perceived candidate fairness. 

It seems like a laundry list that needs to be painstakingly tackled one bullet at a time. But is it? The underlying theme of The Talent Board’s reporting of candidate resentment over the years ties many of these areas together. In short, as HRD Connect summarizes, “The Talent Board consistently finds broken feedback loops and communication to be the biggest cause of candidate resentment.”

As an example, 2022 data suggests that employers fail to update candidates as they move through the hiring process, with 34% of candidates not hearing back from employers two months after they applied, 58% receiving an automated “thank you” message after applying, “and most shocking, just 7% said they’d been notified that they didn’t get the job,” the organization states.

“What makes these statistics particularly discouraging is that more employers than ever are using automation technologies to strengthen and streamline the application process,” Grossman adds. “Recruiters can easily handle increased volumes of applications and better manage the administrative side of the process. Automated communications can be triggered at various disposition stages. The fact that more than a third of candidates are still waiting after two months to hear about their application status seems like a major—and fixable—issue.”

He is concerned about the most recent data in this area and foresees U.S. employers faltering even more in the coming months.

“We’re hearing that larger employers with significant high-volume hiring are experiencing an increase in applicant volume. And, for some, that’s causing a bottleneck declination delay in responding to those applicants not qualified, even with the available recruiting automation many employers have,” he points out.

Therefore, it’s not just important for employers to have automation tools in place. Most do. Communication and feedback strategies and processes are vital to making it work the way it should. As another example, about 40% of the employers that ask for job candidate feedback only do so after those candidates are hired. That’s great, but candidate feedback can be gathered throughout the process—including from those you don’t hire—which can give you valuable data while also curtailing candidate resentment.

You also need to look at the big picture—what type of transparency and communication are candidates expecting? For instance, about half of all job seekers expect to be able to easily find content related to company values when researching jobs.

“With that in mind, employers should be asking some very serious questions,” Grossman tells SHRM. “Are your values clearly showcased in your job descriptions, careers site and other employment marketing materials? Are you telling candidates how the work they’ll do ties directly to your values? Are you sharing real-life stories of your values in action in your business, your workplace and your communities?”

 With such mixed news from the September 2023 survey, there are definite opportunities for employers to improve candidate satisfaction instead of generating candidate resentment.

“I’ve been there myself as a job candidate, and what I can assure employers is that, in many cases, you can redeem yourself. A poor recruiting experience leading to candidate resentment can be due to just one person or incident but, more often, it’s a process or culture issue,” says The HT Group’s Director of Sales Craig Patterson. “Recruiting experts can help you take full advantage of the recruiting resources and tools available today to ensure your communication hits the mark and your stock rises with candidates.”