Why Companies Need to Start Thinking More Like Today’s Candidates

The candidate experience matters more than ever.
By: | June 20, 2017 • 4 min read

Having spent more than twenty years in the recruiting industry, I’ve learned quickly that candidate expectations have changed significantly. Between World War II and the 1970s, job seekers would pay headhunters to help them gain employment in a company. Today, however, candidates know they are in demand, and expect to be wooed by an awesome experience.

Big companies such as Netflix, Spotify and Amazon have created positive and unique experiences for their consumers. Mostly, this is due to their core focus on the consumer — their interests, needs and expectations. Mimicking an amazing consumer experience is necessary for companies to be successful in recruiting top talent in today’s job market.


Phenom People recently audited the candidate experience at 600 of the world’s largest Fortune 1000 companies. Although the candidate experience is becoming more of a priority, the research shows that companies need to start thinking more like today’s candidates — the savvy consumers.

Consumers get immediate feedback when they make a purchase

Anytime you purchase a product on Amazon, you receive confirmation that the purchase went through successfully. To top it all off, you know how and when the product will be delivered to you. If there’s a product shipping delay, you are notified. If your product is out-of-stock, you are notified. Unfortunately, this level of care and attention is nowhere to be found within the job-application process at many companies. In fact, 75 percent of candidates don’t receive any type of status update once they submit their application — no timeline, no expectations, nothing.

How would you rate your service experience today?

As consumers, surveys are all around kus. You go to a restaurant, there are surveys printed on your receipt. Take the time to fill it out, and you receive a free dessert next visit. The same goes for many consumer experiences out there, from getting your car serviced to visiting the Apple store to resolving a technical issue. However, 96 percent of companies aren’t surveying their applicants to gain insight into their application, recruiting and interviewing processes.

Candidates expect a personalized experience in almost everything they do

Just as Netflix suggests the next movies you should watch based on your recent viewing history, career sites should be offering relevant content and job recommendations based on your background and interests. Unfortunately, 96 percent of career sites fail to provide a personalized experience for job candidates.

You probably won’t purchase that product if it has a ton of bad reviews

Visiting a new restaurant tomorrow night? You probably looked at its online reviews to see what people think about the food and the experience. This is no different for today’s candidates.  When deciding whether a company is a place they want to work at in the future, candidates check out employee reviews on the culture, CEO approval rating, and interview preparation on sites like Glassdoor. It’s quite surprising, then, that 97 percent of companies aren’t providing these reviews firsthand on their career sites, forcing candidates to seek out that information.

How did you hear about us?

Whether it’s a part of the survey process or just a general customer service inquiry, most companies ask consumers how they found out about a product or service. Of course, they want to know where or who the referral came from. Did you just do a Google search for cell-phone repair in the greater Philadelphia area or did your brother have his phone fixed here last month? Likewise, it’s critical data to track for companies to determine if their recruiting spend is being allocated to the proper avenues for attracting the right talent. However, 86 percent of companies are inconsistently tracking source information — or worse yet, they don’t do it at all.

Company sites suggest similar products for consumers to consider

If you’ve ever purchased a product on Amazon or any other site, you’ve probably seen a section highlighting similar products you should consider. Better yet, there’s that section that tells you “people who purchased this product also purchased these products.” Today’s candidates expect the same experience, and they want to see relevant suggestions when searching for jobs on your career site. However, 76 percent of career sites aren’t providing this type of functionality, and it’s limiting their potential talent pool.


Although there are other key findings from the candidate experience audits, it’s clear to see that candidates desire a consumer-like experience as they search and apply for jobs and research a company’s culture. The problem is that most companies are failing to give this experience to them. There are quite a few areas that need consumer-like attention and focus, but companies should start by personalizing their content, improving candidate communication, surveying applicants on their experience, and being transparent in expectations.

Ed Newman is the chief evangelist at Phenom People, a talent-technology firm in Horsham, Pa.