Act I for Employee Experience: The Candidate Journey

Posted by Robin Erickson on June 26, 2018.

Top-performing organizations should embrace the first opportunity with candidates as part of their overall plan to engage employees throughout their entire tenure and beyond. Employee experience begins with prospective employers making initial contacts memorably positive for candidates and putting their “best foot forward.”1 But this isn’t easy. Today’s job candidates have high expectations for how prospective employers should interact with them. Candidates have more power than ever to learn about, evaluate, and share positive and negative information about prospective employers through social media.

The candidate’s journey is one of many touchpoints in employee experience that my colleagues and I are studying as we embark upon our new research in this emerging field. By using our high-impact research methodologies, we will be positioned to uncover findings that will help organizations understand their employees—and the employee experience—on a much deeper level. The first of these touchpoints is explored in our article, Understanding Employee Experience: The Candidate Journey, which discusses this topic in more detail. Here we focus on why most candidates have higher expectations than ever for their application experience.

Managing the Higher Expectations of Candidates

Here’s the irony behind this: even as technology makes personalization possible and easy, the recruiting process seems to have become less personalized at many companies. Too many stories tell of resumes disappearing into a “black hole” after nothing more than an impersonal, automated “Thank you” email from a bot.

And here’s the reality: companies that continue using this impersonal approach play a dangerous game. Candidates’ expectations are conditioned by their daily online commercial and personal interactions. With one click, people can check the ratings of a restaurant, track their packages in transit, do their banking online, and share opinions on social media in real-time. Why should they expect anything less from their experience with a prospective employer? Companies should give candidates the same kind of quick, personalized, and transparent experience they receive as consumers.

But here’s why you should care about how your company treats candidates: Bersin’s High-Impact Talent Acquisition research shows that top-performing organizations are far more likely to invest in personalized candidate experiences than their lower-performing counterparts.2 At a basic and low-performing level, talent acquisition (TA) teams often treat the recruiting process as a “one-size-fits-all” lackluster experience. A more advanced approach tailors the experience to the candidate’s specific needs and characteristics, treating the candidate more like an individual. Nearly 7 out of 10 high-performing TA functions say they market roles directly to candidates. By contrast, only 21 percent of low-performing functions say the same.3

High-Performing Organizations Offer More Personalized Candidate Experiences4

Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2018.

Keep in mind Deloitte research has found that companies are increasingly judged as social enterprises—entities whose mission should combine revenue growth and profitmaking with the need to respect and support their environment and stakeholder networks.5

These stakeholders include candidates who become employees as well as those who do not.6

  • Newly hired employees. A poor candidate experience can set a bad tone for the employer / employee relationship—which, in turn, can lead to low productivity, quick turnover, increased inability to retain new employees, and increased hiring costs.
  • Rejected candidates. A poor experience could discourage that person from ever applying again or worse, prompt that candidate to broadcast displeasure through social media. This could discourage others from applying and, perhaps, even purchasing the company’s products and services.7

As we all know, today’s rejected candidate can easily become tomorrow’s decision-making client. So, companies should work to treat both types of candidates—very well. And Bersin can help you do this—through our series on employee experience and our ongoing research in this area.

If your organization is working on new employee experience initiatives and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Madhura Chakrabarti ( or Robin Erickson ( In addition, be on the lookout for an online survey later this summer.

Bersin members can download and read the full article, Understanding Employee Experience: The Candidate Journey. Bersin members should watch for our continuing articles in this series that take a deeper look into the many aspects of employee experience today. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website. For more insights into employee experience, please see our blog series, which continues over the coming summer weeks.

Robin Erickson Robin Erickson, Vice President, Talent Acquisition Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Robin leads talent acquisition, engagement, and retention research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Recognized as a thought leader in her areas of expertise, Robin offers more than 20 years of experience, including prior experience in talent strategies consulting and research for Deloitte’s Human Capital practice. Robin led Deloitte’s global Talent 2020 longitudinal survey series and her work has appeared in several issues of Deloitte Review and in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends reports. She holds a doctoral degree in organizational communication and change, as well as a master’s in communication, from Northwestern University. Robin also has a master’s degree in theology from Northern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago.

1 Candidate Experience, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, 2017.
2 Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Business Strategy and Execution, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.
3 High-Impact Talent Acquisition, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.
4 Ibid.
5 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The rise of the social enterprise, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2018,
6 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The rise of the social enterprise, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2018,
7 Candidate Experience, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, 2017.

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