Candidate experience: what the state of the market tells us about how to hire digital talent

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Candidate experience: what the state of the market tells us about how to hire digital talent
Bryony Kelly

Candidate experience: what the state of the market tells us about how to hire digital talent

Need to recruit tech talent? Struggling with the competition? Here's how to build an unforgettable candidate experience - to attract, engage and retain.

We now exist in a world where tech vacancies are 42% higher than they were pre-pandemic, and salaries in the tech sector are 36% higher than they were in 2015

As a result, organisations have to be more proactive than ever in ensuring that candidates in the market see them as a viable employer, whether through the power of their EVP / CVP, market presence, or sheer recruitment activity. It has never been more important for an organisation to stand out amongst its peers and have a clear message to this market.

You’ve probably already considered some of the glossier ways you can do this, but have you invested in your candidate experience yet?

Quite often, process can be overlooked as part of your proposition, but prompt timelines and transparency go a long way in developing trust in what your organisation is offering. And trust us, in this climate, being memorable matters. 

So how can you use your candidate experience to hire and inspire talent?

Get your timing right

How long should your process be? Too short and your candidate might not feel like they know you well enough to decide on an offer; too long and they risk being snapped up by a competitor. 60% of job seekers have quit an application process because of its length and complexity.

Lorien research suggests that the optimum time for a permanent candidate to be in process is between 30.5 and 31.5 days from CV submission. After 49 days, candidates are more likely a reject a job offer. Candidates offered at 21 days left are just as likely to say yes as those at 30 days – but are much less likely to actually start.

Make use of your hiring managers

Recent research from Microsoft found that the role of the hiring manager in bedding in new starters has increased over the last two years, with new hires relying on their manager 20% more than pre-pandemic. Even in our new hybrid way of working, hiring managers can be incredibly influential for candidate experience. New starters who were supported by an active hiring manager were 3.5 times more likely to say they were satisfied with their onboarding. And a satisfied employee means a better chance of retention.

We can incorporate this knowledge into the later recruitment and onboarding process – notorious periods of risk for candidate poaching. Less than half (46%) of new hires receive a phone call from their new hiring manager prior to starting – and this is a great opportunity to keep candidates bought-in and excited for the opportunity.

For one Lorien client, including hiring managers in the candidate experience journey resulted in reducing early leavers to less than 1%. In addition to streamlining the process, improving feedback loops, and creating EVP-boosting brand content for candidates, Lorien rolled out candidate experience training courses to over 200 hiring managers and created a hiring manager toolkit. Not only did the new process help to cut time-to-hire by a third, but it also kept candidates engaged – resulting in better employee retention. 

Always give feedback

It sounds so simple, but you would be surprised how important feedback is to candidate experience. 52% of candidates who receive feedback would like to continue a relationship with the employer – regardless of how the interview went.

With only 7% of candidates receiving a phone call for a rejection, and a massive 77% of job seekers reporting having been ghosted by a prospective employer since COVID-19, this is a clear opportunity to scoop up silver medallists and make sure that your brand reputation is spotless in the market. Remember, word travels fast and nearly three quarters (72%) of candidates that receive a bad experience will share it online or in person.

Feedback also goes both ways – with just one in four employers asking directly for feedback from candidates, this is a great way to get some candid views on what you’re doing well and what you could be doing better.

Be transparent and responsive

Set your candidates up for success by being clear about what you’re looking for from the outset. The sooner you can provide information about the interview and recruitment process the better – 48% of candidates respond positively to receiving information on interviews beforehand. Being clear about expectations, stages and decision makers will help your candidates prepare for interviews more effectively – enabling them to put their best foot forward. Meanwhile regular communication and expectation management will keep even the most desirable candidates engaged while they work through the process. 

Transparency is also important from the outset – clear job descriptions, details of compensation, and expectations around things like flexibility will all help to attract the right talent. 

Invest in inclusive practices

In addition to being the right thing to do, embracing inclusion and diversity as a core recruitment practice can also widen the talent pool. And a diverse business, in turn, can boast business benefits including greater innovation, employee satisfaction, and higher turnover. Unconscious bias training, balanced interview panels, redacted CVs and neutral language can all help to make the recruitment process feel more inclusive and equitable. Perhaps of interest is that ED&I is also now a tipping point for all applicants – 67% of candidates place high importance on ED&I statements that are empathic and intentional and one in three job seekers would not apply to a company that did not have a diverse workforce. That means organisations hoping to attract candidates from all walks of life can no longer get by on bland statements and empty promises. 

We’re proud to have been partnered with many of our clients on ED&I initiatives with industry-leading diversity results. For example, for one longstanding Lorien partner, we have contributed to a 37% female intake in technology, compared to an industry average of 17%. We’ve seen first-hand the difference that being clear, sincere, and intentional about your ED&I can make to talent acquisition. Putting ED&I at the heart of your process will mean a fairer experience for applicants, and by giving every candidate the chance to shine at interview, you may find talent that you would have otherwise missed.

Harness your EVP

There is no better way to build an authentic sense of your brand and encourage candidates with the right ‘fit’ to self-select into your process than to ensure that your core culture, values, and ethos as an employer are threaded throughout your attraction and recruitment process. 86% of HR professionals believe that recruitment is becoming more like marketing, as organisations compete for top talent. And with good reason – 79% of job seekers use social media as part of their job search, and 75% of job seekers look for an active employer brand when making a decision to apply. Importantly, 92% of people would be open to a new opportunity if the company had an excellent reputation, meaning that investing in your employer value proposition (EVP) really can help you cinch passive talent. 

In addition to investing in promoting your EVP externally, organisations might want to consider how they can continuously promote their brand to candidates in process – candidate packs, office tours (where possible), and talking through values can all help candidates envisage what it might be like to one day work for you. 

Many Lorien clients choose to partner with us for our recruitment marketing capabilities, which can be added on to any of our talent solutions models, either for isolated work or as ongoing, dedicated resource. 

Some examples of how Lorien have helped clients to share their EVP include leveraging social media, running events, designing rich content, creating candidate packs, and building careers websites. For instance, for one client in the financial services sector, Lorien produced 11 events, 50 videos, and over 200 social posts in the first year to position the business as an employer of choice for digital talent. These activities resulted in over 5,000 people engaging with the brand. In a separate example, a focus on direct hire for an insurance client (which including a dedicate onsite resource, strategic initiatives, ownership of a Glassdoor account and the creation of a careers website) resulted in a 174% increase in direct applications and an increase in referrals. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips for creating an engaging candidate experience to beat the digital talent crunch. If you would like to explore any of these ideas further or would like more advice on standing out in a crowded market, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at or check out our website for the latest insights.

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