They say it’s a candidate’s market. But with all the openings available, candidates seem to be pulling a Houdini act. What gives? Well, the long and short of it is candidate experience.

A recent study found that talent shortages are likely to persist across key sectors in Western economies, as many struggle with tight labor markets, despite economic headwinds and inflation. The proof is in the numbers – 75% of employers interviewed across eight countries and regions expressed that they were facing talent shortages at the start of 2023.

Add to that the alarming rates of attrition – 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels – surging inflation, and impending recession, and we can see how recruiters might struggle. The icing on the cake? The average company takes 42 days to fill a position, while the best candidates are snapped up in 10 days. In short, recruiters are stuck with the unenviable job of finding, attracting, and retaining the best available talent in hostile times that just won’t quit.

Seriously. What’s the deal? Is it the Great Resignation? But that technically means that where one employer loses, another one gains, right? Or was it the mass retirement of Baby Boomers – but that, too, is set off by the entry of Gen Z workers. Or maybe it’s linked to the fact that 2 million women as good as disappeared off the workforce during the pandemic? We’re running out of reasons here.

Maybe we’re looking at it all wrong. Perhaps the issue is at the recruiters’ end. Maybe they’re saddled with technology and processes that are just so last century that they can’t cope with the challenges of the modern market – the least of which seems to be ensuring a great candidate experience. The market is changing. The problem is that we seem to be using 2000 thinking to try and solve 2023 talent acquisition problems, which isn’t practical – particularly when we’re dealing with an influx of Gen Z workers with vastly different expectations such as personalized journeys, fast-tracked processes, and tech-driven operations.

As 2023 kicks into high gear, talent acquisition teams the world over are focusing on providing a fair, engaging, and seamless candidate experience. And with candidates rethinking their priorities when it comes to choosing an employer, the competition is on.

The Four Key Elements of Great Candidate Experience

A strong careers page

In many cases, the careers page is what creates a first impression. The best way to make sure that it’s a positive one is to keep it simple and clear. This means short, jargon-free, and bias-free job descriptions and clear, must-have requirements (rather than nice-to-have ones).

Another important point here is to keep the page easily discoverable. Too often, careers pages are buried in obscure parts of company websites. To keep candidates from dropping off before they’ve even started, it’s best to make the careers page as easy to find as possible.

An efficient application process

This is arguably one of the most critical, yet often overlooked stages of the candidate experience – as a result, most employers end up with relentlessly long, complicated job applications. Often, the best candidates are the ones passively looking – which means that they are already employed. To avoid frustrated drop-offs due to time-consuming, pointless form fields, it’s best to keep applications short and simple.

The idea is to keep candidates engaged and moving through as quickly as possible. Whether they are employed full time or unemployed and applying for several opportunities, a candidate’s time is precious. The faster the application, the more likely they are to regard potential employers in a positive light and the more likely they are to complete their app.

A transparent interview process

Recruitment is a two-way process where candidates and employers alike evaluate each other to determine if they have a good fit. A fair, interactive interview process that boosts candidate trust and engagement, while at the same time helping identify the best talent for a role, goes a long way toward fostering positive perceptions. It also helps to make the process as convenient as possible. Today, that means providing candidates the option to attend online or in person, or even to adopt a hybrid approach (with initial rounds being over the phone or online, and later rounds being in person).

With the flexibility to record on-demand interviews and self-schedule live ones, candidates will feel more in control as they decide their next career move.

Open, frequent communication

Clear, regular communication with candidates helps build positive relationships and encourage candidate engagement at every step of the process. Initial interviews should be followed (promptly!) with a timeline for next steps to maintain interest.

This is equally important for candidates who don’t qualify to advance into the next stage of the process. Even if a person is not right for a given role, they may qualify for a future one. Following up with such candidates via a phone call or a thoughtfully written, personalized email – even better, one with practical feedback – speaks volumes about how a company values people.

Wrapping Up – and Getting Started

There’s that old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” The hunt for talent in 2023 is already in full swing. The best way to get ahead of the race is to improve the entire candidate experience , from application to hire.

Get started on creating an improved, intelligent candidate experience today by requesting a demo of Joveo’s tailored talent acquisition solutions. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for more insightful tips on how to attract and retain the best talent.