Blog Candidate Experience Understanding The Science Behind Successful Recruiting

Understanding The Science Behind Successful Recruiting

Understanding The Science Behind Successful Recruiting
Mark Stephens Jan 12, 2021 Candidate Experience

The ubiquitous adoption of online recruitment services has led to record levels of online job-related activity taking place. Major engines register over 17m unique job-related searches each month within the UK alone. To operate effectively in this environment we need to understand the science behind successful recruiting.


More than 50% of the working population is habitually searching for jobs


Both qualitative and quantitative research demonstrates that there are not 17m job seekers committed to finding new jobs. Statistically, over 90% of job applications are made by people already in work, with varying degrees of commitment to moving jobs.

Research previously conducted across more than 250,000 applicants, suggests that over 80% of job applications are made by people who are NOT committed to changing jobs at the point of application.

As we have seen with online retail and online property sites, recruitment has become a social activity. People that fall into this category – social prospectors – are potential candidates and present a real opportunity to anyone recruiting.

Just as retail has perfected the art of impulsive purchasing, smart recruiters understand that enticing these “passive or social prospectors” and turning them into “active applicants” is a strategy with a huge potential upside.


Mastering such a strategy is a matter of behavioural science

During the recruitment process, active and passive candidates demonstrate different sets of behaviours. Some behaviours are measurable from the data and can provide interesting and useful insights, while emotional actions require more research to understand.

In particular, we have been interested in what influences both the passive and active job seeker from both a practical and emotional perspective during different stages of the applicant journey. Candidates experience both rational and irrational, conscious and subconscious levels of anxiety coupled with a range of positive emotions that require more in-depth analysis.

Understanding how these emotions influence applicant behaviour is a critical component of designing an improved applicant experience; the better the experience, the greater the probability of employers achieving better outcomes.

So far, there has been little research published that could support such a potentially rich recruiting strategy. We have concluded that it would be potentially better to divide this research into two distinct areas:

  • Data analysis to identify correlations and trends
  • Behavioural analysis to understand the decision-making processes at each stage of the recruitment lifecycle.

Enhancing a recruiter’s understanding of the complexities driving potential applicant behaviour would provide a significant advantage when trying to apply influence, either emotional or rational. Further, this understanding could help drive substantial improvements in both tools and processes.


Talent attraction


What would be interesting is to understand from a predictability perspective, is how irrationality becomes more predictable. Understanding the hidden forces that shape how candidates make decisions is a pandora’s box for those trying to shape the industry in the era of AI and machine learning.

We have started looking at the subject of applicant anxiety levels within the job-hunting process with our academic partners at Bedford University. Our hope is that this new research will provide rich new data sets and subsequent insights from a candidate perspective.

To find out more about the work that Smart Recruit Online are doing or to arrange a consultation – call 01908 268 368 and ask to speak with a member of our Customer Success team.



Other relevant articles by Mark Stephens:

The 5 Most Critical Recruitment Tactics

Why Do ATS Systems Not Work as an Effective Recruitment Tool

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Mark Stephens

Mark has worked in and researched the HR & Recruitment landscape for over 10 years. He is a serial entrepreneur, previous winner of the prestigious Chambers - Innovation in Business award, and founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, CareersPage Ltd, The HR Resource Library and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd. Smart Recruit Online is the winner of 7 national and international awards for recruitment innovation.

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