Candidate Experience Recruitment Marketing

5 Pain Points in Your Candidate Experience (And How to Improve Them!)

5 Pain Points In Your Candidate Experience - And How To Improve Them
Profile photo of Lori Sylvia
Written by Lori Sylvia

A good candidate experience is an important part of the recruiting funnel. Rally’s Lori Sylvia shares 5 common pain points in this experience and how you can improve them by reviewing your candidate communication strategy.

5 Pain Points in Your Candidate Experience (And How to Improve Them!)
5 (100%) 2 votes

Did you know that only one-third of candidates report a positive candidate experience? This means that the majority of candidates are likely experiencing pain points somewhere along their candidate experience (CX) with your organization. The good news is that most of these problem areas can be fixed by improving how and when you communicate with candidates.

Recently, I partnered with the team at Lever to deliver a webinar on this very topic. I shared 5 pain points that might be putting your candidate experience in jeopardy and some communication “safety nets” that you can implement to reduce the number of candidates who slip through the cracks. The following video includes highlights from the webinar:

Let’s dive in!

Pain Point #1: Your talent welcome experience

For many candidates, their first interaction with your organization is not necessarily when they click “apply.” In fact, leading up to their decision to apply, candidates can interact with your organization in all sorts of other ways. Here are just a few of them:

  • Joining your talent network
  • Signing up for job alerts
  • Chatting with your chatbot
  • Sending a message on Facebook
  • Commenting on a social post or ad
  • Receiving an email from a recruiter
  • Receiving your talent newsletter
  • Texting recruiting shortcodes
  • Attending a virtual event
  • Visiting your careers site
  • Reading a blog
  • Following your company on social
  • Creating a profile in your ATS
  • And yes… Applying for a job

No matter how a candidate interacts with you, your first response defines their welcoming experience. For example, if someone joins your talent network, your first response email is what a candidate will use to form their impression of your organization.

With this in mind, review your system-generated emails to understand what kind of impression they’re making with your candidates. Is your email coming from a branded email address? Does it read like it was written by a human? Does it reflect your company’s values and culture? How quickly is it sent after someone joins your talent network?

Example of a good welcoming candidate email

Creating a welcoming experience in your system-generated emails will help candidates form a positive impression of your organization.

As a general rule, aim to check all of the following boxes for first-contact emails:

  • Send from a branded sender (e.g., or from a real employee)
  • Write in a human tone that reflects your company voice
  • Set expectations (e.g. “one of our recruiters will reach out to you in the next week”)
  • Include a call to action (e.g. “click here to read our most recent blog post”)
  • Encourage a conversation (e.g. avoid messages like “don’t respond to this email”)

And don’t forget the other common no-no’s — if your email isn’t mobile responsive, sent by a non-branded email address or generally conveys a lackluster impression of your brand, then candidates are going to see it that way.

Rally note: For more helpful information on the talent welcome experience, be sure to read our article Is Your Talent Welcome Experience a Blind Spot?

Pain Point #2: Your automated personalized emails

Candidates want to believe that you are invested in getting to know them personally. When they receive an automated “Hi [insert name here]” copy-pasted template from you, however, this belief goes out the window. While first names are a must, personalization can and should go much farther with the recruiting technology that now exists.

For example, you can program different CTAs to be included in emails sent to different audiences, different copy, different next steps and localized references. If you’re struggling for ideas, you’ll often find different templates included in your email automation software for inspiration. As long as you customize these templates to better convey your brand voice, there’s nothing wrong with using them.

Beyond using recruiting technology to make your emails more personalized, you can also use tech to create a multi-touch outreach strategy. As you may know, as a recruiter, the more messages you send to a candidate, the higher the chance you’ll receive a response.

To put some data behind this, Lever reports that nurture email strategies have a response rate of 46%. In fact, just by switching from a 1-email campaign to a 3-email campaign, you can double your response rate!

Candidate nurture email strategy increases response rate

Beyond personalizing emails, creating a multi-touch strategy will increase your response rate. 

However, due to time, resources, and all sorts of other factors, manually managing multi-email talent engagement campaigns may not be feasible for some organizations. But through automation, recruiters can continue to tend to their other duties while simultaneously staying in close contact with candidates.

Plus, amidst the pandemic, candidates have actually come to expect more personalization in their communications with recruiters. For example, Lever found that post-COVID recruiting interactions in industries like infrastructure, construction and engineering to be 58% more personalized and relationship based. Industries like finance, healthcare, professional services and manufacturing also saw marked increases.

Talent engagement initiatives are becoming a critical strategy for all TA teams. Industry analyst firm Gartner estimates that talent engagement will be adopted by 80% of large organizations (5,000+ employees) by 2023. But the best part is that nurture technology isn’t limited to larger organizations — it’s available to organizations of all sizes and part of many recruiting CRMs today.

Pain point #3: Your response to comments on social media

Comments left on social media posts and social media ads are a common way for candidates to first interact with your organization. With that in mind, if you’re not responding to comments, then you’re allowing other people to shape how your brand is seen by candidates now and in the future.

While turning off comments is certainly an option, it’s generally not a good marketing practice. It gives the impression that you’re not interested in an open dialog. Instead, your role as a responder to comments should be support-focused. Your responses should be empathetic, provide next steps, be apologetic (when needed) and be helpful in any way possible.

Consider this example from Amazon as they promoted fulfillment jobs on Facebook. Even though their post received negative comments, the Amazon team is active in the conversation and working to counteract any negative perception by being overly supportive in responding to comments. Their responses provide assistance, next steps and give the impression that there is a real person behind the keyboard wanting to help.

actively responding to comments on social media and engaging in dialogue

Responding to comments on social media allows you to engage in a dialogue with people interested in your company and responding to negative comments can counteract negative perceptions. 

While platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have traditionally been where candidates have turned to first for commenting, Glassdoor is another channel to pay attention to. With the platform’s addition of company updates, employers are now publishing content just like they would on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’re not already publishing on Glassdoor, you may be missing out on another way to connect with your candidates. And if you are here, aim to respond to comments as eagerly as you would to traditional Glassdoor reviews, especially if they’re negative.

Connect with candidates through Glassdoor

If you’re not already on Glassdoor, you’re missing out on another way to connect with your candidates. 

If you’re not sure about the best way to respond to comments, here’s a simple checklist to follow:

  • Monitor responses regularly
  • Standardize your replies (e.g. create documentation detailing how to reply to negative response)
  • Coordinate with your marketing team (e.g. get access to and leverage social channels by partnering with your marketing department.)
  • Use social listening tools (e.g. Hootsuite, Buffer, etc. If you can’t afford tools, carve out time to monitor social posts.)

More generally, treat social media as not just a tool to communicate out to candidates, but as a tool to respond back and provide support to them.

Pain point #4: Your rejection process

After applying for a job once, I got a response from the company 3 months later (shown below) not even acknowledging that I’d applied or had a conversation with a recruiter. Getting rejected was bad enough, but getting rejected in such an untimely and generic way was even worse — an experience that many candidates can, unfortunately, relate to.

Untimely and generic rejections provide a bad candidate experience

When rejecting candidates, pay attention to untimely and generic rejections. They provide a bad candidate experience and reflect negatively on your employer brand. 

When you consider that 9 out of 10 people don’t get the job they’re applying for, you can understand the potential for negativity in a mishandled rejection stage. For example, the Talent Board found that 52% of people share their negative candidate experience with their personal network, with 31% going a step further to share it across all of their social media.

To avoid wasting your candidates’ time and reduce the risk of them spreading negativity about your brand online, take care to send rejections in a timely and considerate manner. This is where your ATS can help, because it can both automate this step but also allow for personalization in your communication, so that candidates who have been interviewed don’t get a generic email.

Pain point #5: Your feedback loop

One way to lighten the blow at the rejection stage is to ask candidates for feedback. Gathering feedback can not only help you uncover other potential pain points in your candidate experience, but it can also give the perception to candidates that your hiring process is fairer.

asking candidates for feedback can lessen the blow at the rejection stage

Asking for feedback at the rejection stage can increase the candidates relationship with your company, helpinng them become advocates for your brand whether as customers, subscribeers or partners. 

What’s really interesting is that the Talent Board has found through their research that candidates are more likely to increase their relationship with your company if you ask about their experience, even if they didn’t get the job they were applying for. This is great not just for getting candidates to advocate for your brand in their own circles, but it can also mean candidates becoming customers, subscribers or partners in some other capacity, now or in the future.

Feedback can also show how effective you are at driving diversity into your talent pipeline. Through optional questions like the ones listed below, you can inform the effectiveness of your diversity recruiting efforts.

feedback can inform the effectiveness of diversity recruiting

Through feedback, you can better understand the effectiveness of your diversity recruiting efforts. 


With everything above in mind, the next step is to conduct a communications audit of your candidate experience. At every step along your lifecycle, from candidate to employee, review the system-generated messages with a fine-toothed comb. Do they sound human? Are they representative of your company values and culture? Do they encourage open dialog? The answer to all of these questions should be a resounding “yes”!

5 Pain Points in Your Candidate Experience (And How to Improve Them!)
5 (100%) 2 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Lori Sylvia

Lori Sylvia

Recruitment Marketing evangelist and community builder. Founder of Rally.

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