How to Increase Candidate Conversion Rates Exponentially


Yes, you read that correctly. It is possible to increase candidate conversion rates. Exponentially. And that was the exact focus of last week’s outstanding webinar with Madeline Laurano, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer, Aptitude Research Partners, and Pete Sanidas, Vice President, and Research Director of the Talemetry Research Team.

These two industry veterans took time to highlight for attendees exactly why candidate conversion is so important to the candidate experience and in today’s recruiting environment. They examined common types of candidate conversion in modern recruitment marketing, explored strategies to improve candidate conversion, and shared highlights from the 2018 Fortune 500 Candidate Experience Audit. 

Why Candidate Conversion Matters

Before we jump into a full recap of the webinar content, let’s first define what candidate conversion is and why it matters. Candidate conversion, or candidate opt in, is capturing information about an individual to increase what you know about each person. That way, you can more effectively nurture and move each candidate along in their journey toward the ultimate conversion point—motivating job application.Conversion Rate Increase

So why does candidate conversion matter for creating a better candidate experience? Because a lot has changed in recruitment marketing over the last two decades. Today, there just aren’t enough qualified candidates applying for the right job at the right time. Unemployment is at a historic low of 3.7 percent. The workforce is shifting, with Millennials and Gen Z representing a larger and larger proportion of workers. And organizations are facing a shrinking talent pool. All those challenges combined have resulted in a very complex recruiting environment.

Further, there is additional complexity with increased pressure from the business. Business leaders today are paying close attention to the strategies and technologies used in talent acquisition, and specifically, the return on investment from recruiting and recruitment marketing. A recent CEO study from PWC indicated that 77 percent of CEOs say the availability of talent is the greatest threat to their organization. That’s more than three in four CEOs expressing that their top concern is focused on acquiring talent. GULP.

If that number doesn’t yet rattle you, 60 percent of those same CEOs said they are completely rethinking their technology and how to better engage candidates to attract talent. These data present overwhelming evidence that there is tremendous visibility on the results of the recruiting organization and there will continue to be increasing demand to deliver better outcomes.

Let’s boil this down even further and ask the question again. Why does candidate conversion matter? Because companies that measure candidate conversion rates are two times more likely to improve the candidate experience and three times more likely to improve quality of hire. And that’s a business impact you can take all the way to the boardroom.

Now That We Have Your Attention

Talemetry has taken a leadership position in the recruitment marketing industry around specific ways to significantly improve candidate conversion. The EVOLVESM Maturity & Efficiency Framework from Talemetry helps organizations self-identify and develop strategies to improve the effectiveness of their recruitment marketing function. EVOLVE provides a path to recruitment marketing optimization and maturity related to the six process areas of recruitment marketing, including:

  • Inbound Marketing: Attracting candidates you do not know or have information on to reach.

  • Sourcing: Finding candidates across multiple sources to build a proprietary talent database.

  • Outbound Marketing: Using intelligent segmentation of your talent database to develop and deliver targeted marketing outreach.

  • Relationship Management: Building relationships with individuals you have information on in your database.

  • Candidate Engagement: Driving engaging content into the marketplace to encourage conversion.

  • Conversions and Outcomes: Getting candidates to opt in or apply for a job. Capturing information to increase what you know.

EVOLVE removes the silos between these process areas and connects them together to avoid areas where candidates can drop off. With EVOLVE, you can make sure each process area is interconnected to maximize recruitment outcomes and improve recruiting performance.

The Real Monetary Impact of Lost Candidate Conversion

Candidate conversion is not just for measurement alone. There is serious money at stake when you think about converting candidates. Globally, $200 billion is spent on recruitment activities annually, while more than $160 billion is spent in the U.S. alone. But more than 70 percent of all dollars invested in recruitment marketing fail at the point of candidate conversion. In essence, companies are throwing their recruitment dollars away. Put another way, of that same $200 billion of value put into recruitment, only $60 billion is actually making its way into applicant tracking systems (ATS). A huge missed opportunity.

The Most Common Types of Candidate Conversion in Recruitment Marketing

For a moment, let’s examine the parallel to modern marketing. As consumers interacting online, when we pick up any device, whether it’s to buy something, to learn something or to be entertained, we expect the least amount of hassle and complication. If B2C companies started requiring registrations, passwords, or other distractions, then most consumers would bail from the experience. Same thing with consumer-related events. As consumers we expect to see information on an event that features not only the logistics of date, time and location, but also to be able to indicate we will attend and let others know we’re going, too.

Another example. When we opt in to a promotional list as consumers for a company, we expect to be communicated to. Get the latest discounts and offers, check for extra coupons or savings. We give information to get something in return. So let’s draw the parallel to recruitment marketing across each of these candidate conversion types. The most common forms of candidate conversion include:

  • Job Applications: Desired outcome of recruitment marketing

  • Talent Networks: Opt-in opportunity for candidates to share interest and information

  • Job Alerts: Opting into announcements on future job openings

  • Event Registrations: Opting into an event, and capturing interest and information for future interactions

Where Does Candidate Conversion Go Wrong?

The common types of candidate conversion are fairly straightforward. But for some reason, as recruitment and talent acquisition professionals, we get derailed in our candidate conversion efforts. And here are the primary ways this happens:

  • We distract the candidates: On our career site, we may include too much information, and overwhelm candidates. Not the right information, not targeted enough information. Simply, we don’t make it easy for candidates to move forward because we distract them.

  • We add unnecessary steps: With all the steps we require, sometimes, we aren’t even giving candidates a chance to be converted. We lose them early on by making candidates enter information multiple times without capturing and storing that data. And that’s a big fail on the technologies we have relied upon for far too long.

  • We fail to sweat the details: Sometimes, we don’t even think about the details. We haven’t personally gone through the experience and we don’t think from the candidate perspective. The irony here is that we say people are our most important asset, but we don’t give candidates the same consideration that B2C companies do toward consumers.

  • We put the workload on candidates: An ATS is designed to help organizations, not candidates. And what has resulted is that candidates now have to do the heavy lifting. Filling out 50 to 100 fields of data. Multiple data entry. If we can think about candidate conversion and recruitment marketing as a vehicle to improve the candidate experience, then we can start to improve the quality of talent brought into the organization and remove the massive burden candidates face.

  • We are unwilling to change: We have grown accustomed to our ways and often are not willing to adopt new strategies or processes to improve the candidate experience. Our unwillingness to change has become a roadblock to improvement.

Highlights from the 2018 Fortune 500 Candidate Experience Audit 

After examining these key areas of candidate conversion and its tremendous importance to improving the candidate experience and impacting business results, the focus of the presentation took a practical look at how candidate conversion plays out today with the Fortune 500. To view an interactive piece with these results, check out our latest infographic on 8 Ways Fortune 500 Companies Miss the Mark to Convert Candidates with Recruitment Marketing.

The Talemetry 2018 Fortune 500 Audit reveals eight areas to significantly improve candidate conversion—from application and talent networks to job alerts and event registrations. We will examine each of these areas and indicate how well the Fortune 500 are measuring up in each category.

#1 Registration Requirements: Huge problem

More than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 require registration with a username and password to apply for a job.

#2 Social Profile Apply: Some good news

70.6 percent of all Fortune 500 companies offer some type of social profile apply option, while 29.4 percent do not leverage a social profile of any kind.

#3: Cloud Storage Apply: Big miss

Only 27.6 percent of all F500 application processes use cloud storage resume portability from services like DropBox or Google Drive.

#4: Campus/Event Conversion: Getting better

33.7 percent of the F500 now allow candidates the ability to quickly find relevant internship information, explore job content or register for events.

#5: Opt-In Talent Networks: Mixed bag

53.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies do not offer a talent network; 39.1 percent offer it optionally. And 7.1 percent force entry into a talent network.

#6: Opt-In Job Alerts: No change

61 percent of the Fortune 500 offer a job alert sign up to attract passive candidates. 39 percent are missing this simple form of remarketing.

#7: Google for Jobs: Missed opportunity

46.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies have no consistent direct index to their corporate jobs. 34.9 percent show a link from Google for Jobs to their career site job description and 18.7 percent link from Google for Jobs to their ATS job description.

#8: Indeed: Immediate potential

Only 4.5 percent of the Fortune 500 leverage Indeed to simplify the application process for candidates. More than 95 percent are adding layers that make the application process overly complex.

Overall Findings of the 2018 Fortune 500 Candidate Experience Audit

Nearly 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies are either failing or poor in their candidate conversion efforts, with 47.7 percent of companies failing overall and 24.1 percent showing poor performance in their candidate conversion. More than one-fifth, or 22.9 percent of the Fortune 500, exhibit direct opportunity for improvement, while only 5.3 percent demonstrate best practices in converting candidates throughout their candidate journey.

So How Can You Exponentially Increase Candidate Conversion Rates?

While the results of the 2018 Audit seem pretty grim, the good news is that organizations can make simple changes to their recruitment process across these eight categories to dramatically improve candidate conversion. Companies that focus their efforts on candidate conversion at multiple stages throughout the talent lifecycle, and across multiple channels, like career sites, talent networks, email, chatbots, and SMS/text, have seen considerable increases in their conversion rates.

In fact, many enterprise organizations that partner with Talemetry have gone from conversion rates around 20 percent to more than 70 percent within just six months of implementation. For example, CDW, ranked as #189 on the Fortune 500 List, has experienced 83 percent application conversion rates, 72 percent email open rates, and 86 percent of visitors brand new to its career site. By measuring conversion along the candidate lifecycle, and understanding that nurturing and engaging talent is key to converting candidates, CDW has optimized its recruiting performance and created an outstanding experience for candidates.

Remember, You Are the Champion

Optimizing recruitment marketing to improve the candidate experience and increase candidate conversion is a definite equalizer regardless of recruitment marketing budget. It puts organizations on an equal playing field regardless of size. So what are some practical ways to get started? You can start by reviewing your candidate conversion journey, analyzing your metrics and optimizing your conversion process from the end of the journey to the beginning.

Also, don’t overlook the importance of being a champion for candidate conversion. There is a tendency to point fingers and say that this just isn’t our responsibility. Or perhaps you are waiting for someone to assign this task to you. But when you optimize the candidate experience for candidate conversion, you will be able to quickly point to success and get the leverage you need to push through specific talent acquisition initiatives. So be a champion and take time to further understand the importance of measuring and acting upon candidate conversion. And remember, this is something you can get excited about. Why? Because you’ll be making one of the greatest impacts on your business and improving the quality of candidate converting throughout the entire funnel.

We encourage you to take time to watch the webinar replay to hear more great insights on improving the candidate experience and candidate conversion, so you can make a direct impact on your recruiting function and your business results. 

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