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  • Writer's pictureBen Jackson

Evolution of the candidate experience: what's next?

It’s fair to say that life’s been pretty tough for the HR and recruitment world over the last few years. It feels bizarre now to look back to the financial crisis of 2008, but the impact that had on HR teams of all disciplines was huge and long-lasting.


Organisations cut resources and the hideous mantra of “do more with less” started to circulate. It has never really gone away, and while the resourcefulness and dedication of most HR teams meant that they somehow managed to achieve incredible results despite shrinking capacity, in a way they were victims of their own success. Few organisations have ever got back to pre-2009 levels of HR resource, but necessity is the mother of invention and so into this challenging landscape rode the saviour: HR tech.


In 2010, HR tech was pretty much confined to lumbering ERP systems and ATS platforms, data and workflow driven admin platforms. Dull, but worthy. A decade later, according to research firm CB Insights, the global market for HR tech is worth $148bn, which is a lot of applicant tracking systems.

Of course, these days HR tech is about so much more: engagement, analytics, AI / machine learning, automation and, yes, candidate experience. It is, absolutely, a different world from ten years ago, with tools available to assist with every single aspect, every nuance, of the employee journey, from first awareness to on-boarding to alumni and everything in between. However, while technology has certainly helped to evolve the candidate and employee experience, it’s frustrating that in many respects the experience doesn’t seem to have appreciably improved. Sure, it’s different, but better?

We have launched the findings from our first research report: Candidate Experience in 2021. Here, we surveyed 400 people in the UK who searched for a job in the last six months of 2020. The report reveals some encouraging signs that show that in some respects the candidate experience is better than it once was, but many challenges remain, some very much due to the tools and processes in play within HR and recruitment functions, and some due to much wider issues (a global pandemic!) But the biggest, most concerning finding of this report really does suggest that organisations over the coming few years are going to have enormous challenges retaining staff, putting yet more pressure on recruitment teams.

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