In a Candidate’s Market, It’s Time to Streamline Your Applications

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Recruiting used to be about finding candidates and hiring them, but today, it’s so much more.

As a recruiter, you can’t just find any old candidate — you have to find a candidate who fits the company culture. And to prevent that candidate from being poached by another company before you can hire them, you have to keep them engaged throughout the recruiting process.

See, today’s job market is a candidate’s market, and recruiters and HR professionals must understand what that means for them if they are to succeed in recruiting new talent.

The Candidate-Friendly Job Market

Unemployment is maintaining a steady low, and that gives candidates much of the power at the negotiating table, especially in industries like technology and healthcare, where talent shortages are felt acutely.

As a result, even happy workers are starting to consider their options: 82 percent of workers who enjoy their jobs are still open to new opportunities, according to research from Jobvite.

“Through online job postings and social networks, people are saturated with opportunities to explore their career opportunities,” says Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at Jobvite. “As job seekers get more agile, so do recruiters. To succeed in this competitive environment, recruiters need to focus on building strong company brands across channels and hone their outreach to engage the right candidates at the right time with a personalized touch.”

But while a web presence that accurately reflects the company’s spirit and values is crucial, it’s not enough in itself. As Bitte points out, recruiters also need to remove barriers that prevent candidates from applying. In a candidate’s market, the application process needs to be as frictionless as possible.

“Candidates who aren’t actively seeking a new position won’t bother with a lengthy application,” Bitte explains. “Anything that you can streamline is to your advantage to entice the perfect candidate to apply — even if they were happily employed elsewhere.”

The Culture Factor

As more and more candidates feel confident about their prospects, job hopping will become increasingly common. As a result, companies cannot take retention for granted. Instead, there must be a concerted effort to ensure employees would rather stay than go.

“While there’s no secret sauce for retaining talent, a positive company culture can go a long way,” Bitte says. This is no wishy-washy proposition. By “positive company culture,” Bitte means companies must take concrete steps to give employees what they need.

For example, “many young workers leave jobs where they don’t see a path for long-term growth, so invest in employee development and work with them to chart the path of growth that they’d like to see at the company,” Bitte says.

Similarly, Bitte notes that workers with families often leave their jobs because they’re searching for better work/life balance. Flexible work policies, including remote options, can give workers the balance they crave.

“But it’s not just enough to have these policies in place,” Bitte says. “The culture needs to support workers actually taking advantage of these benefits.”

Part of keeping an organization’s culture positive also means maintaining the company’s brand. Negative online reviews cause 22 percent of potential applicants to preemptively reject a company, according to the Jobvite research.

“Just like other social media platforms, Glassdoor is a key component of your overall brand strategy that should not be overlooked by your recruiting or marketing teams,” Bitte says. “While it may be tempting to ignore some of the negative posts, it’s important to respond to all complaints, big and small, in a timely manner. Be courteous, and thank reviewers for their feedback. If possible, continue the conversation in a private, offline setting.”

To prevent negative online reviews before they even arise, Bitte encourages companies create alternative internal channels for delivering feedback and criticism.

“If employees feel that they can voice their grievances and be heard internally, they’re less likely to take their criticisms online,” she says.

Read more in Job Market

Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.