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Candidates Currently Unhappy! Speed Up the Dispositioning Now!

This is the main article taken from my newsletter.

Recently, I conducted a poll on LinkedIn to gather feedback on how soon candidates would prefer to receive a response after applying for a role (either a rejection or scheduling the next steps). The responses have got me rethinking my approach to dispositioning candidates.

With over 100 responses, 43% of respondents said they prefer the “next step response” within 5 business days of their applications. The other 57% said they preferred such a response within 2 business days of their applications. A little over half of this group, 29%, said they preferred such a response by the next day.

According to the 2022 Candidate Experience Report by Greenhouse, 58% of candidates expect to hear back from companies in one week or less regarding their initial application, with 22% expecting a response in less than a week. There is a difference in the choice of words between “expect” and “prefer”. 58% “expect” a response in a week or less, but 57% “prefer” a response within 2 business days.

The Talent Board 2022 Candidate Experience Report states that the top 10 medium and large CandE Award Winners are more likely to review applications within three to five days to reject or move forward (i.e. disposition). Large employers have the biggest difference, with 50% more likely to do so than all companies combined. So the best companies are dispositioning applicants in 3 to 5 days.

In the past with some companies, I have been happy with dispositioning new applicants in the ATS once or twice a week. This was considered good (meeting expectations as the earlier report claimed). I have inherited requisitions and found my peers had left candidates two or three weeks without a response. So I never doubted I was doing a good job of providing feedback if I got back to the candidate within a week, but my LinkedIn poll shook me.

Then I read Criteria’s Candidate Experience Report 2022 about what are the top reasons candidates abandoned the recruitment process. It must have been multiple-select because it added up to be over 100%. The top reason at 54% was the salary did not meet expectations. But right under that at 53% was poor communication from the employer/recruiter. These two reasons dominated, as the next highest percentage was 38%.

Then I read the 2022 Job Seeker Survey Report by Engage2Excel and they asked, “how long should the recruiting process take from application to job offer?” A whopping 62% (combined) said the process should take 2 weeks or less. Of this, 34% said it should take one week.

Lastly, in the 2021 Candidate Experience Report by CareerPlug, they asked about the factors that influenced a candidate’s decision to join a company. Numbers 3 and 4 were ‘responsiveness later in the hiring process (e.g. follow-up emails after interview)’ at 85% and ‘responsiveness after initially applying (e.g. how quickly you receive an email)’ at 84%. These were below ‘atmosphere of the workplace’ at 90% and ‘interviewer experience’ at 86%.

Bringing this all together, candidates are abandoning the process because of poor communication, how quickly they receive a decision response after applying affects their decision to join the company, and the majority of candidates prefer to hear back within 2 business days of their application. The majority of candidates think the entire process from application to job offer should be 2 weeks or less and 1/3 think it should take a week.

All this information has got me thinking that I need to change the way I do things. I need to be faster. Instead of reviewing and dispositioning candidates once or twice a week (i.e. within 3 to 5 days like the best companies), I think I will start reviewing applicants in the ATS on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Doing this will ensure that no more than 2 business days pass. This is even for newly posted roles. No more “let’s wait and see what we get after the first week” before reviewing the applicants. I will disposition every new applicant, even if they applied that day. In my poll, 13% said they prefer same-day feedback.

I conducted a second related poll on LinkedIn about whether same-day feedback would be off-putting or appreciated. With over 60 respondents, 71% said same-day feedback would be appreciated and 29% said they would find same-day feedback off-putting. That is a pretty resounding majority (over a two-thirds majority) who would be appreciative of same-day feedback after dispositioning them in the ATS.

Have you ever rejected a candidate and used the “delay sending message” feature like me on LinkedIn, the ATS, or elsewhere? I am going to stop using that. I even worked for a company where the default in the ATS was set that all rejection emails were delayed 2 business days before the system even sent them. If you have such a system, I suggest that you consider turning off that feature. It would be better if the candidates got feedback sooner rather than later. We might think it is polite to let a couple of days pass before getting a rejection, but that is only if you are dispositioning all applications daily. If you let any time pass, like reviewing and dispositioning applications once a week, then you are only causing further unwanted delays. If I work for a company in the future that has such a delay in their ATS, I plan on dispositioning applicants daily so they will get their emails within 2 business days of their application. Do not be afraid of sending feedback the same-day, as my poll did indicate that 71% would appreciate same-day responses.

A new feature to ask for in your ATS, if it does not already exist, is ‘Out of Office’ responder which can be set by each recruiter. If someone applies to a role, but you are out of the office for the week, the applicant should get a response saying not only that the application was received but also that the recruiter in charge of reviewing applicants is out of the office this week and will get back to you on…and give the date. Knowing what I know now, I would prefer not to leave applicants hanging while I am out on vacation for a week. Candidates are not that patient anymore.

Lastly, let me say that with modern ATS that resume black holes should not exist. I wrote about this in July 2015 in an article called, “Why Do Black Holes Still Exist in Candidate Experience“. It is the same now as then, if not worse. I was recently looking for a new senior recruiting role and applied to 196 roles before being offered a role. Sixty-four, less than a third (32.7%) actually responded to me at all about whether to interview me or reject my application. That’s right…more than two-thirds showed me a resume black hole. I applied only to get no response at all. This is ridiculous!

Some even went so far as to say in their automatically sent application acknowledgment email through the ATS that “we can not respond to all candidates.” Without shame, outright saying you won’t hear from us unless we want to interview you. These days most companies are focused on “candidate experience” and talk about it often, and yet fail at this first step. Totally destroying the candidate’s experience and the company’s reputation.

According to the WayUp 2022 Candidate Survey, 94% of respondents like to know when and why they’re not qualified for a job. Yet, when asked how often they hear back from jobs they’ve applied for, 82% stated that they only receive responses some of the time. So, I am not alone in my experience of the resume black hole. Let’s get rid of the resume black hole once and for all by committing to always respond to every applicant with a rejection or scheduling interviews.

So what are you going to do to speed up dispositioning of candidates and the entire recruiting process? What are your thoughts about dispositioning and giving candidates a response within two business days? How might you attempt to complete the entire process from ‘application to offer’ for a candidate within two weeks? Share your thoughts and feedback by leaving a comment. To see more of my posts and articles, follow me on LinkedIn and on Twitter and Facebook.