Talent Communities Matter. Here's Proof.

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Make a customer, not a sale. In talent acquisition this credo has not historically been the norm. After all, most applicant tracking systems are specifically built to be incapable of managing dynamic candidate relationships. Most applicant tracking systems were built to have a rigid transactional workflow with a clear “start” and “end”. There’s no way for candidates to move freely within the system. If a candidate didn’t get hired for a job? Too bad. As far as the ATS is concerned that candidate is in an end-step; usually ‘Rejected’.

Vendors like Jobs2Web have proven, with actionable data, that re-engaging candidate over time can significantly impact current hiring results. In one report from theRecruitment Innovation Summit they stated that 43% of job applicants apply after the first day of applying with an employer. The candidates come back as repeat visitors. It begs the question, how long are hired candidates interacting with your employment brand before they are hired? We set out to measure this for ourselves.

Testing the Theory: Running Candidate Incubation Reports

In order to test how long candidates can remain active before finally becoming a hire we build what we refer to as a Candidate Incubation report; definition below:

Candidate Incubation Time = Span of time between initial expression of interest to when a candidate applies to the job they ultimately are hired into.

Here’s the data set that was measured:

  • Candidate status = Hired
  • Date a candidate record was created in the ATS
  • Date a candidate applies to the job

Next we simply calculate the number of days in between the Creation Date and the Final Apply Date. The result is that particular candidate’s Incubation Time; the time it took them to apply to the job they were hired into. Once you have a substantial list of hires in your ATS calculated, you can chart the frequency of days a hire spends active in the ATS. Below are some sample results:

The x-axis conveys the number of days from Creation Date to Final Apply. The y-axis represents the percentage of hires that fall within each value. What we find is that as we expect, the highest frequency of candidates (about 25%) apply to the job they are hired into within their first 15 days interacting with a company. Yet what may be more surprising in this sample, is that 75% of candidates apply after 15 days. Many of which remained active in the ATS for well over two years. It is clear that candidates don’t always get hired into the first job they apply to. Often it takes some time to find that perfect match between employer and candidate. For this sample we now havePROOF, your candidate pool WILL come back and have repeated experiences with your employer brand.

The Need for Repeat ‘Customers’

But why does the knowledge of candidate incubation times matter? Think about the chart above. What if candidates don’t come back and apply again? Or worse yet, what if you are spending money on advertising to get them to come back while all along you had this candidate in your ATS? (this happens more often than you would think)

In summation, the data suggests that it is important to think of these returning candidates as repeat customers. And for this analogy; think about customers in a restaurant. Great food and great service will keep customers coming back. But when the service is bad, they don’t. As employers we need to stop this from happening. One bad experience on a job application can lead to a candidate never considering your company as an employer again!

Did you know…. 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company as a result of a negative experience? Source: Harris Interactive Customer Experience Impact Report

Not only do the customers never return but they may be more likely to tell people about their negative experience. It’s human nature. 

We recommend every employer take a look within their ATS to look at their Candidate Incubation timeframes. Have you? You may be surprised by what you find. Have you run a Candidate Incubation report within your ATS? Let us know in the comments or reach out with any other questions.


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