Candidate Experience Reality Check


I just don’t get it. It’s almost condescending, if you ask me. Watching recruiters ask questions like “what’s the candidate experience really like?” I saw three just this week, in fact. Like no one has ever been a candidate before.

Funny enough, that’s probably the reality for a lot of people. We’ve bounced from job to job without taking the traditional route, not experiencing the real candidate experience. The highly qualified have a few conversations, then they apply on your careers site just to make sure papers are in order before the offer is extended. Thankfully, I’ve been in that situation for my last 4 jobs.

I’m not naive enough to think that’s everyone’s experience. What’s it like for the person who’s laid off and going in blind, desperate for a change or re-entering the workforce from military service or retirement? Daunting, for one thing. It’s not every day your professional career experiences such vulnerability.

Unless you’re a betting man/woman, it’s just not so fun to put your livelihood on a coin flip. You know they’re talking to someone else just like you. You’re wondering if they’ll speak to you at all. Waiting even 1 extra minute after they said they would call feels like a kick in the stomach. It sucks way worse than all those lame dating analogies imply. In this scenario, you’re not getting paid. That’s worse than not texting back, you drama queens.

That’s when a candidate even gets to speak to someone. The rest of the time, applying and hearing anything at all has the same odds as a lottery scratch ticket. It’s the terrible  monotony of staring at the same 144 jobs within a 40 mile radius every day for a week. 40 miles isn’t even a realistic commute but job seekers try. Try being flexible, they say.  Then, when that poor candidate finds something worth applying to, it’s a 3 day process.

That’s what it feels like – losing. Just like that scratch ticket, the odds are not in anyone’s favor. The experience does nothing to make a candidate feel like a winner, either. I was in a webinar that said “Customers, at a minimum, expect their last best experience.” Think about that. Think about just how terribly most candidate experiences stack up to the standard consumer experience.

What I’m trying to digest is why that might be so hard to figure out. Go apply for a job. It sucks. You shouldn’t be recruiting if that simple fact is a stretch for you.

OK, vent over.

Job Search Advice

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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