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If you’re in the recruitment market you’ve probably read numerous reports loaded by various vendors about ‘the war on talent’ but by now you might be scratching your head wondering which way to turn or who to believe. If we’re honest we weren’t sure either. We had a good idea based on our perception of the market and recent figures & findings, but we couldn’t hand on heart say for sure. Therefore, we decided to ask the people whose opinion is rarely sought after – active candidates on their recruitment journey.

Now we acknowledge that the active vs passive thing is a little overplayed and in reality most of us are ‘passive’, but for the benefit of our survey we’ve targeted ‘active’ candidates. These are candidates who have applied for a role in the last month so we could get some bang up to date experience to share (positive or negative) and create some numbers we should ALL be interested in. Just before we begin we would like to thank those who completed the survey. We’ve acquired a 7.8% response rate so thanks to those who took part. Right, on with the results!

We broke our survey down into three sections: the searchapplications & interviews, and feedback.

The Search

From the beginning, we were keen to see the reasons behind the job search. Turns out “A wish for a change” is the main instigator (43%) with the change of personal circumstance coming in second at 34%.While we were expecting a decline in traditional job boards, usage is still high with 90% of candidates uploading their CV’s onto them, specifically on Jobsite and Monster. However, candidates aren’t just passively uploading CVs; 57% of them are also posting on social media to advance their job hunt. Although it’s vital to establish an online presence when posting jobs, solely relying on this medium will mean missing out on 43% of candidates who only use job boards!

Fascinatingly some of the respondents told us that LinkedIn slows down the recruitment process as it is difficult to filter unsuitable jobs. Similarly, candidates felt career pages were littered with unsuitable jobs. What’s interesting is the steady increase of Twitter as a job search platform. The 140 character limit allows candidates to consume information faster than a traditional search and the popularity of this platform for job searches is only going to increase.

Application & Interview

On average candidates applied to 9 jobs. So the real question to companies is how does your job differ from all the other similar jobs the candidate is applying for? For candidates applying to 9+ jobs are only receiving a response from 4. Assuming that candidates aren’t ‘spraying and praying’ with their applications means there are 8 other roles that are similar to yours. Cutting through the noise is essential.

What’s impressive is 58% of candidates still prefer using third-party recruitment agencies. We can help companies source the best candidates and cut through the noise. We know that the candidate is king right now so you need to take steps to ensure your job is being seen by the right people.

When asked how long in days it took from making an application to securing an interview candidates generally said between 8-14 days. Some candidates even claimed they waited between 30-60 days between an application and securing an interview! We don’t know about you, but we think that’s a bit too long. During this time, the candidate is probably going to lose confidence in the company’s ability to communicate and, therefore, damaging the brand. Furthermore, the 33% of companies that do reply within a week are going to snap up the best talent.

Over half of candidates thought all their interviews followed the same format. This might be a reason why 54% of them felt the employer undersold the job during the interview. Underselling may cause doubt to surface. At this point, it’s useful for a recruiter to call the candidate to allay fears, as 71% of candidates felt the recruiter provided them with sufficient knowledge about the opportunity, the company, and its culture to make an informed decision.

In correspondence, we found that majority of candidates didn’t secure the job after the interview. The interview may leave the candidate overtly uninspired causing the employer to choose someone else. Conversely, we may have encountered some respondent bias towards those who didn’t receive a job offer, we acknowledge that too.


A selection of unsuccessful candidates noted that the recruitment process negatively affected their opinion towards the company they applied for. Some of the things candidates mentioned included: “[The] interview gave me insight into company culture and values and weather [sic] they actually followed them” and “If they cannot sell the job, do they have a clear vision on their goals?”. But the reoccurring mention of ‘no feedback’ was the central concern for most candidates. In fact, a whopping 80% claimed they didn’t obtain enough feedback concerning their performance in the recruitment process.

Clearly we’re a third party agency so we have an agenda to bang the drum for our value in this recruitment life cycle. However, if we were to be brutally honest about our understanding of this survey we’d say we have a lot more to do and that has to be a good thing for everyone, but we’re not on our own.

Spending a small fortune on creative and targeted candidate attraction strategies is only one part of the puzzle. Whether you have an in-house team with a budget to run unlimited campaigns or an exclusive relationship with a niche agency it doesn’t stop there. You need a brand ambassador to engage with your prospective employees to get them over the line, and once at the interview you need someone who can explain the role, responsibilities, the company ethos and overall opportunity to be able to tie the whole thing up. Sell the dream and secure your next employee.

And what of the unsuccessful candidates? Recruiters – if the above has been faultless to this point don’t spoil it by then not giving them something back! Give some feedback, something constructive, even if it is simply they were pipped to the post by another person and thank them for their effort to this point and wish them well in their job hunt. This takes very little but will save you from any ill feeling or potential brand negativity.

More news like this: what influences your career moves more, salary or job perks? 

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