Part I: Trends and Drivers of Today's Candidate Experience

By Chris Hoyt (he/him) posted 09-01-2023 11:48 AM



  • Insufficient resources and hiring delays have led to a decline in candidate experience for TA Managers.
  • Candidates increasingly prioritize communication and transparency from companies.
  • Technology, including RPA and AI, are transforming talent acquisition.
  • Treating candidates well is crucial, as they are also customers who can influence others' choices.

Welcome to the first installment in a new headline series brought to you by the CareerXroads community. We've embarked on an extensive research project in collaboration with talent acquisition leaders and practitioners from around the world to delve into a topic that's top of mind for all of us: Redefining the Candidate Experience with AI in the Post-Pandemic Era. This series aims to shed light on the transformative changes in talent acquisition, driven by technological advancements and the seemingly always shifting landscape "post-pandemic." Stay tuned as we unpack insights, trends, and actionable strategies to navigate this new normal in a series that will also contribute towards a pending full report.

Candidates are re-evaluating their priorities

The landscape of candidate experience has been dramatically reshaped in the wake of the pandemic. Factors like the rise of remote work, tech advancements, and the ongoing labor shortage are all contributing to a new normal in talent acquisition.  As nearly anyone within the world of TA can attest, candidate experience initially took a hit post-pandemic due to resource constraints and almost schizophrenic-like hiring practices that we saw follow in 2022-23 at many high-profile companies.

The pandemic has served as a catalyst for employees to reevaluate their career goals and expectations from employers. Nicole Brown, VP of HR at Quarterra Group, couldn't have said it better when we sat down with her: "Candidates now place a premium on effective communication and a clear understanding of a company's values. The demand for flexible work options has also surged."

Brown further emphasized the accelerating role of AI in reshaping the hiring process. "AI is not just a buzzword; it's a tool actively being used for skill assessment and candidate matching. The rise of contingent workers also necessitates a different approach, and that's where analytics and tech, including RPA [robotic process automation] and AI, come into play," she elaborated.

Communication is king

Economic uncertainty triggered by the pandemic has also led to changes in how people search for jobs and these factors lend themselves to a perfect storm of hiring instability and candidate focus, or lack thereof. @Anthony Reynolds, CEO of HireVue, highlighted, "Candidate experience has transformed due to the pandemic, with economic instability impacting job search habits. [Additionally,] poor communication from hiring teams is a major challenge, causing talent loss."

@Melissa Thompson, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Ford Motor Company, is on the same page when it comes to the need for better communication. "In today's competitive labor market, ramping up communication and engagement is not just a nice-to-have; it's a must," she stressed.

@Aaron Kraljev, a thought leader in strategic talent acquisition, warns peers against undermining the candidate experience in a market where job demand outstrips supply. "Remember, candidates are also potential customers who can influence the perception of your brand," he cautioned.

Kraljev also suggested that AI and streamlined candidate journeys could be the answer to the challenges posed by the current labor and economic conditions.

Surge in applicants an added challenge

@Elaine Orler (She/Her), Managing Director, Consulting at Cielo, observed that technology has been a boon for candidate experience where companies have had the interest and resources to invest. "From chatbots to virtual interviews, tech is enhancing the candidate journey. The challenge now is managing a flood of well-matched candidates," she said.

In conversations with numerous recruiting leaders, it's clear that the word "flood" aptly describes the current candidate influx for many organizations—more so than it has in recent years. Some leaders, who find themselves operating with the smallest recruiting teams they've ever had, emphasize the growing challenge of effectively managing this surge in candidates. Meeting hiring goals and delivering an optimal candidate experience becomes particularly daunting when there's a lack of automation or technology to lend a helping hand.

The candidate experience is evolving and as talent acquisition leaders, it's our job to stay ahead of the curve.

In short, the post-pandemic world has ushered in a new era for candidate experience. The integration of technology, especially AI, improved communication, and a focus on skills-based and agile hiring are the driving forces behind this transformation. As we continue to adapt, making the candidate experience a priority will be key to attracting and retaining top talent. Shae Green, Senior Vice President HR at Grace Hill, summed it up succinctly: "The game has changed. AI and a talent-rich market have shifted the dynamics. While automation has replaced some of the personal touch, the emphasis on candidate experience remains critical for retention."

Keep an eye out for our upcoming posts, where we'll continue to dive deeper into the transformative role of AI in redefining the candidate experience in this post-pandemic world. And don't miss our comprehensive publication on the subject, set to release later this fall, which promises to be a valuable resource for TA leaders everywhere. 

Up Next: Examples and Alternatives in Candidate Experience


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