Spilling The Tea On Recruiting Candidates & Candidate Experience

Years ago, I wrote a post on the power of social listening and that there are essentially two ways to listen. There is listening to respond and listening to understand. When you listen to respond, you hear what you want to hear and respond in a way that will make the person you were listening to listen to you. But when you listen to understand, you can let go of your priorities and begin to empathize with the person you’re talking with. We’re all talking so much about candidate experience that it’s possible we are forgetting to listen. You can begin to really see the problem your candidate has in the experience once you stop to actually listen. Which is what we did.

PandoLogic and I went out and did the first-ever, broad-scale social listening study on the candidate experience. We listened to the billions of online conversations to see what people were saying about looking for, finding, applying, interviewing, and getting a job. Because we were listening to understand, we did not know what to expect. And, wow, did we get some insights. Some very illuminating information on how we are recruiting candidates and how our candidates feel about the experience we’ve created. So, buckle up friends, we have some understanding to do.

We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

This is a MASSIVE conversation. When we started this study, we had no idea how many people are really talking publicly online about their job search, applications, and so on. In the last year, there were 68 million conversations. And more than 1 trillion impressions on these conversations. This is a massive conversation in total.

Comparing this to other life events, conversations about buying a house were 250,000 conversations in the last year (and I think we all know how challenging the housing market is right now!). Then we looked at something that was more ubiquitous, the Olympics. The candidate experience conversation is bigger than the Olympics! Last year, there were 23 million conversations about the Olympics compared to our 68 million and this was in a year that had the event canceled and rescheduled. So, suffice it to say, our audience is talking about what we are doing more frequently than we imagined.

Houston, We Have A Problem

What we learned from this massive conversation is that we are not speaking the same language as our audience. They are not talking about the things we are talking about. They see the process of recruiting candidates much more simply than we do. They don’t see a recruitment funnel. They don’t see an infinity loop. They don’t know what a Talent Community is. They look for jobs, they apply for jobs and most of them get rejected. Some of them get interviews and offers. They’re not thinking about things the same way we are.

Do you know what they do want? They want shift information. They want to know how much something pays. They need the basics. If we are listening to understand, we should give this information to them sooner rather than later.

Dollar, Dollar Bills, Ya’ll

In looking at the data, pay and money were the largest part of the conversation. Pay and money made up 13% of the overall candidate experience conversations. Compared to 2% for “dream job” and 8% for “quitting”.

It’s possible that, when we are recruiting candidates, we are over-indexing on employer brand and recruitment marketing a bit. One of the big take-aways from the study is this:

Job Seekers Don’t Love The Experience and Only Participate Because They Must

The overall net sentiment for the candidate experience conversation stands at 40. Net sentiment is the percentage of a conversation that is positive vs. negative. The higher the number, the more positive the conversation. Ours is less than 50 and makes it a negative conversation. If that isn’t scary enough, we also looked at passion intensity. Passion intensity is the percentage of love/hate conversations. The lower the number the less passionate. Our conversation’s passion intensity stands at 23. You know what they say, the opposite of love is indifference, our audience is overall negative and indifferent. They are only participating because they need to pay bills.

Here’s the hard cold truth: We are trying to market our way out of a problem. We are trying to obscure their drivers to meet our goals. This is an unsustainable model.

If our candidates are saying money is the main driver, what happens when you give them that data early?

Well, the team here at PandoLogic ran a report that showed when employers put the money conversation right in the job title, the candidates convert 5-12% better than those titles without money information. In fact, when we looked at titles that included pay, shift, and immediacy language, candidates converted anywhere between 5-39% higher.

The Future Of Recruiting Candidates & Candidate Experience

This is the first time we are doing this study, so consider this a baseline. We’ll keep listening every quarter to see the needle move. My recommendation? Take this research and share it with hiring managers. Share it with your leaders. They need to know what their candidates are saying and thinking. They need to listen to understand that the experiences that are created impact the business. This could be the ammunition you need to share salary information in job descriptions. This could be the ammunition you need to share with your leaders that job seekers are not actually climbing over each other to work for you and that recruiting candidates requires a nuanced touch.

Let’s commit to more listening to understand. Let’s commit to seeing what our audience is saying and learning from it without judgment because that’s where the real impact will happen. When we deliver what they need, we can all win.

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