By Luke Parry, Vice President – Business Development

The recruitment landscape has undergone significant changes over the past decade, bringing new opportunities and challenges for employers and job seekers alike. While considerations around candidate experience have lingered for decades, changing attitudes – particularly in the last five years – have proven that organizations can’t afford to ignore it.

Today’s candidates are more selective than in the past, and companies are realizing they need to do more to attract and retain the best talent. The most effective recruiters prioritize offering a positive candidate experience throughout the hiring process – setting a standard that’s not going anywhere.

Let’s take a deeper look at how candidate experience has evolved over time and where it’s heading.

The candidate experience timeline

2017-2019: The emergence of candidate experience as a priority
During this time, many employers invested in technology to improve candidate experience, such as applicant tracking systems to streamline the application process with a user-friendly interface. Companies also started using chatbots and other AI-powered tools to provide candidates with real-time support.

2020: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the recruitment landscape. With the rise of remote work, traditional recruitment methods became difficult, so employers adjusted their methods to finding top talent.

A key change to arise was the increased use of virtual recruitment. Video interviews, virtual job fairs, and online assessments became more popular, allowing employers to connect with candidates and evaluate skills remotely. This also led to a greater emphasis on communication, with many employers using HR technology to keep regular contact with candidates.

2021-2023: Changing attitudes toward DEI

Following global movements across 2020, more workplaces began prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in talent acquisition, recognizing it as not only ethical but beneficial to the business. Some companies began implementing blind hiring techniques, which remove identifying information – such as names and addresses – from resumes and applications to reduce bias. Many employers are also now using diversity recruiting tools to source candidates from underrepresented groups.

2024: Personalization & employer branding

Employers will continue to prioritize candidate experience, especially as job seekers overall have more choices than ever before.

A key trend will be toward greater personalization through AI-powered chatbots and targeted, skills-based job recommendations. There will also be an increased focus on employer branding to reflect the growing amount of employer research done by candidates. Recruitment will be optimized for candidates with disabilities and cultural differences, with DEI being a core design principle rather than an afterthought.

The future of candidate experience

Many jobs of the future don’t even exist yet, but the highly personalized candidate experience is here to stay. Employers will develop new strategies to improve efficiency and give candidates more autonomy in the hiring process, like adding themselves to a talent pool and accepting/declining jobs based on their interests. Some more key trends to watch out for in the coming years include:

1. Super apps: These multifunctional platforms will combine many aspects of the candidate journey into one place – including job search, content, assessment, interview scheduling, interviews, and contract management. This is already a trend in Asia with consumer apps like Grab, WeChat and GoJek.

2. Conversational AI: This will enhance candidate experience and bridge the gap between humans and technology. It could be utilized for assessment, interview scheduling, contract management, and content creation. AI could also enable hyper-personalized communications, where recruiters automatically contact candidates based on their preferences as suitable roles emerge.

3. The metaverse: The 3D-enabled digital space, known as the “metaverse,” has somewhat lost its place at the front of our minds due to AI. But it’s still in line to play a significant role in the future of candidate experience via virtual reality and augmented reality interviews, job fairs, assessments, or training.

Changes in technology, culture, and the overall job market in recent years boosted the importance of candidate experience. It’s clear: employers that prioritize job seekers throughout the recruitment process are more likely to stand out above the competition. By keeping up with the latest trends and adopting a candidate-centric approach, companies will provide positive hiring experiences that attract and retain the talent necessary for what’s ahead.