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Ignoring Declined Candidates Can Hurt Your Hiring Process

Ignoring Declined Candidates Can Hurt Your Hiring Process
Credit: saknakorn/Shutterstock

How you treat the job seekers you don't hire could affect your chances of finding the best employees in the future, new research finds.

A study from CareerArc, an HR technology provider, and Future Workplace, revealed that 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and of those, 72 percent have shared that negative experience online on an employer review site, on a social networking site, or directly with a colleague or friend.

"Companies need to start humanizing their candidate experience because job seekers can easily share their negative experiences online and decide never to apply to that company again," Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace, said in a statement. "Treat your candidates like you would your employees or customers because they have the power to refer strong candidates even if they don't get hired."

Much of the bad experience for job seekers revolves around not keeping them abreast of where things stand with the process. The study found that 65 percent of job applicants who didn't get a job they applied for were never notified of the employers' decision.

Not keeping candidates informed discourages them from applying for other positions with that employer. Eighty percent of job seekers are reluctant to consider other relevant job openings at a company that failed to notify them of their application status. However, those who are kept up to date on where they stand are 3.5 times more likely to re-apply for another job. [See Related Story: Want Happy Employees? Make Hiring Harder]

"This survey reveals a critical blind spot employers have when it comes to candidate experience, and that is the experience of the declined candidate," said Robin Richards, CEO of CareerArc. "In this tightening labor market, companies can no longer afford to overlook this vocal majority of applicants who didn't get the job, but simply expect to be acknowledged."

Despite nearly all employers seeing the value of keeping in touch with declined candidates, less than half actually do so. Those surveyed said re-engaging with job seekers who weren't hired is a good opportunity for their company to build their talent community and protect their employer brand.

The technology many employers are using as part of the hiring process is also leaving job seekers with a poor impression. With nearly 40 percent of employers relying on technology that pre-screens or preselects candidates based on the data they've submitted, 85 percent of job seekers doubt that a human ever even reviewed their resume when they don't hear back.

Although applicant-screening technology might save employers time during the hiring process, it also might not be revealing the best candidates. More than 60 percent of the employers surveyed admitted that these types of programs could be overlooking qualified candidates. 

The problem for many businesses is that they have no idea whether or not they are providing a good experience for job seekers. Only 25 percent of employers regularly request feedback directly from candidates on their experience, with 78 percent of job seekers saying they've never been asked to give feedback on the process.

The good news is that many employers plan to work on improving their hiring process. The study discovered that 70 percent of companies have invested, or plan to invest, more resources in improving the candidate experience in the next year.

"This presents a tremendous opportunity for employers who recognize the need to reframe the rejection process, improve on candidate care, and prioritize the needs of all applicants today so they return to reapply tomorrow," Richards said.

The study was based on surveys of 826 job seekers and 374 employers in the United States.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.