Research Library Article


New Data on Candidate Behaviors

David Earle

A large, new survey examines the hiring process from the candidate’s  perspective and identifies which parts of the current process are working well and which are not, as well as which factors are most influential in making a successful job match.

The candidates in this survey are those most in demand: mostly college educated, mostly employed and mostly interested mid-level jobs and higher. The data describes how they’re conducting job searches, the resources they’re using, the difficulties they’re encountering, and how those difficulties influence where they apply and whose job they decide to accept. 

The survey focuses on process: the actions candidates take to efficiently navigate today’s broad, deep and transparent talent marketplace. For example, these types of candidates are assiduous researchers, consulting an average of 17 sources for job related information. On the other hand, only 9% have ever applied for a job using a mobile device.

The data makes abundantly clear that process counts for a great deal when connecting with these candidates, meaning the specific actions employers do or don’t take during the recruiting process in response to the actions of candidates. In other social situations we call many of them simple courtesies: polite actions such as responding promptly to inquiries, being helpful and courteous, and respecting the other parties time.

One of the most important changes in the worldwide talent marketplace over the past decade has been the shift from a sellers’ market—one favoring employers—to a buyers market —one favoring job seekers. Candidates today have more visible opportunities, better information, and therefore more discretion in making job choices, than ever before. The most successful employers have recognized this and adapted their recruiting strategies and processes. But the data say that many also have not.

Talent Networks Graph

Viewed as communication, recruiting is straightforward information sharing. Each side wants all they can get about the other. There are three basic components: content, style and process. Of the three, process is the least complicated. All an employer has to do is respond promptly and honestly to a predictable set of questions: What are the tasks and responsibilities of the job? Am I a suitable candidate? Where do I stand in the hiring process? What’s your decision date? Am I still in the running? What more can I do to support my candidacy?

A surprising number of companies fail that simple test. Only 17% of job seekers report receiving any notice that they did not get the job they applied for, and only 6% were asked whether they wanted to remain in the company’s talent network.

Process plays a disproportionate role in candidates’ thinking because it signals whether an employer is merely talking the talk or actually walking the walk when it comes to an employment relationship. Process is about being different as opposed to saying you’re different. To the discriminating job seeker, every employer must be able to not only articulate, but also demonstrate, how they’re different from their competitors. Actions speak ever so much louder than words. 


  • Problems with the talent marketplace
  • Candidate search behaviors
  • Where communication is expected and what type
  • Talent communities
  • Mobile technology
  • Factors that do and don’t affect candidate decisions
  • Most prominent negatives in the job application process
  • Most important interactions, positive and negative
  • The consequences of failed applications

Today the power has shifted from the employer to the candidate, as employers find themselves losing top performers, and candidates with specialized skills are in high demand—and even harder to find. This study will help hiring managers and recruitment professionals get a behind-the-scenes look at candidates’ job search process as well as other employers’  hiring process to empower them with the insights necessary to gain a competitive recruitment edge.

Additional Reading

New Social Media Research

Nine Changes in Recruitment Marketing

What Job Seekers Want

New Data Information