CHICAGO, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite high unemployment rates, more than half (56 percent) of employers who recruited new employees in the last year reported that a candidate rejected their job offer. The experience a candidate has with an employer from the start plays a critical role in whether that candidate will ultimately accept a position. One-in-seven job seekers (15 percent) reported having a worse opinion of the employer after they were contacted for an interview.
A new study from CareerBuilder shows how employers may be losing out on talent – and business – if someone has a bad experience applying for a job with their company. CareerBuilder's new Applicant Experience study tracked the experiences and opinions of more than 800,000 workers across industries who applied to jobs from June 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012. The research was designed to dispel popular myths around recruitment and help keep candidates better engaged.
Myth: The failure to acknowledge a job application won't impact the company.
Fact: CareerBuilder's Applicant Experience study found 44 percent of workers who didn't hear back from an employer when they applied for a job said they have a worse opinion of that employer. In a separate study, nearly one-third of job seekers (32 percent) reported they are less likely to purchase a product from a company who didn't respond to their job application. 
Myth: What happens in the recruitment process stays in the recruitment process.
Fact: Bad experiences can go viral or at least spread throughout someone's personal network. Three-in-four workers – 78 percent – said they would talk about a bad experience they had with a potential employer with friends and family. Seventeen percent said they would post something about their negative experience on social media and six percent said they would blog about it.
Myth: Just hearing from an employer in a tight job market is enough to keep the candidate's interest.
Fact: First impressions can sometimes cause job seekers to eliminate the employer from consideration altogether. When asked to assess the recruiters who contacted them, one-in-five job seekers (21 percent) reported that the recruiter was not enthusiastic about his/her company being an employer of choice. Seventeen percent didn't believe the recruiter was knowledgeable and 15 percent didn't think the recruiter was professional.
Myth: The top reason why workers apply to a job is salary.
Fact: What will initially pique the candidate's interest in applying is often tied to proximity, perception of the company and industry, and growth opportunities. Location was the number one reason candidates submitted an application (45 percent), followed by desirable industry (33 percent), reputation of the company (25 percent), interesting assignments (23 percent) and advancement opportunities (22 percent). While competitive compensation is important, it ranked sixth for why candidates said they applied to a job.
Myth: The top reason why workers don't apply is content in the ad.
Fact: Good content in a job ad is critical, but technical issues are more often the culprit behind workers dropping off from applying to a job that may be of interest. Workers cited a link that wasn't working and computer/Internet problems as the top reasons for not applying to a job. The application being too lengthy rounded out the top three.
"How your employment brand is presented to job seekers from the moment a job is posted can have a lasting effect not only on your ability to acquire talent, but your business overall," said Sanja Licina, Ph.D. and Senior Director of Talent Intelligence at CareerBuilder. "First and foremost, it's important to acknowledge candidates and keep them informed. Make sure that the dynamic work experience you describe in your job posting is further supported in phone or face-to-face conversations. In addition, continually ask for feedback to see where your applicant process shines or where there are opportunities to improve."
Licina offers the following quick tips to help improve the applicant experience:
- Keep job seekers in the loop. If limited resources and large volumes of applications prohibit a customized response, at the very least, set up an automatic reply with a quick note on the timeframe of hiring, so the candidate knows you received his/her application and is aware of your hiring timeline. Keep candidates informed about the timeline for interviews and when you will make the decision, and always make sure to follow up with candidates who ultimately weren't chosen after an interview.
- Focus on what matters most to job seekers. Coming off of a recession where workers struggled with longer hours and having to transition to new industries, more are placing a greater emphasis on looking for jobs that have training opportunities, work-life balance and interesting assignments. Make sure to highlight relevant attributes along with your company's competitive standing, advancement opportunities and other factors.
- Role play with ambassadors. Your employees are the greatest ambassadors of your employment brand. Set up practice interviews with recruiters and hiring managers, and survey applicants to get their feedback.
- Check it and then check it again. Triple check links on your company career page, online job sites, social media pages, etc. to make sure the connection is live and leading to the right information.
[1- 2] CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 employers and 5,000 workers nationwide, completed in March 2012.
[3 -4] CareerBuilder and Inavero study of more than 4,500 workers nationwide, completed in March 2011.
Applicant Experience Survey Methodology
CareerBuilder's Applicant Experience data referenced in this study was collected from more than 800,000 U.S. candidates who applied to jobs from June 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012 on behalf of nearly 1,500 companies (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a sample of 800,000, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 0 .11 percentage points.
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset - their people. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 45 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world's top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis to recruitment support. More than 10,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder's proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.