We’re continuing to experience a volatile hiring market despite economic fluctuations, and as such, one of the universal truths we have come to realize is that candidates can afford to be selective. As job seekers continue to be more empowered, employers must prioritize the candidate experience. Effectively engaging candidates is critical not only in attracting the talent you need today but also in building a positive perception of your brand that will serve you well into the future.

Yet, according to the most recent study from our PeopleScout business, fewer than two in 10 candidates would rate their recent recruitment experience as excellent. In fact, our survey revealed a clear disparity between candidate expectations and reality. From lack of clarity on the recruitment process to failing to define the purpose and pulse of the organization for which they would be working, there is significant room for improvement.

In our “Inside the Candidate Experience 2023 Report,” we analyzed the candidate journey of over 215 organizations around the world alongside survey data from over 2,400 job seekers globally. In understanding where these gaps exist, we can advise organizations on how to improve their candidate experience to find the right talent to address their workforce needs.

Here are three major themes that emerged in our findings and some actionable insights you can apply at your own organization.

Your Mission Matters

A company’s mission, purpose and values are among the top considerations for applicants when deciding whether to apply for a job. Yet less than half of employers, 48%, include that information on their career site. More than ever, candidates are searching for work they find meaningful and an employer that shares their values. This is especially true for the millennial and Gen Z workforce. In fact, one in five millennials say an organization’s mission and purpose is their top concern when choosing a job.

Including your organization’s purpose, communicated clearly on your career site and job postings alongside a well-articulated employer value proposition, can provoke the emotional connection that today’s candidates crave. It also gives them a glimpse into your company culture and differentiates you from competitors.

Candidates Want Clarity

We identified another concerning trend that occurred at a critical point in the candidate journey — when candidates decide if they will submit an application. This stage in the recruitment process for traditional hires had the second-lowest score across the candidate journey in our audit. It stands to reason that if candidates are unclear about what they can expect from you throughout the hiring process, they will disregard your position altogether.

We found that less than a third of the employers we assessed, 28%, clearly communicated the stages of their recruiting process. This often-overlooked opportunity can not only help increase the number and quality of applications you receive but may also make your recruitment process more accessible to harder-to-reach talent groups.

Go Straight to the Source

Asking your candidates directly about their experience with your recruitment and hiring process may be the most effective way to identify and address gaps or opportunities. Yet, we found that 44% of organizations do not provide an opportunity for candidates to give feedback on their experience.

If you are not asking candidates for feedback, you may be passing up valuable insights that can help you improve your employer brand, reduce attrition and improve your time to hire. Introducing a survey into your recruitment process — either following an application, interview, rejection or all three — is a must for any organization looking to secure top talent.

Candidates have more options today than ever before, and their expectations have shifted as a result. Your ability to compete for the workforce you need now — and the future of your employer and consumer brand reputation — depend on it.

The “Inside the Candidate Experience 2023 Report” is available at peoplescout.com/insights/inside-candidate-experience-2023-report.