Why Bad Experiences Happen to Good Candidates

January 18, 2017
Vinayak Ranade
CEO at Drafted

“Let’s treat our applicants like crap and make sure that smart people don’t want to work at this company.” — said no one ever.

Believe it or not, most companies actually want to hire smart and talented people for their teams. Even more surprisingly, most corporate recruiters actually want you to have a good experience when you apply to a company. And the craziest part is that they actually understand that long term company success depends on this.

Doing the math on the candidate experience

Why do recruiters only spend 6 seconds* looking at each resume? Imagine that Acme co. just raised their series B for $30 million and need to hire 50 people during the year. So they hire their first in-house recruiter, Tom, who’s job it is to scale up. Immediately when Tom comes in he asks to buy a bunch of tools and an additional hire, but gets denied because the top brass want to see what Tom can do alone before investing more into it. They say “We’re already spending that money on you!” The answer here is purely in the numbers. Tom is overwhelmed with the number of day-to-day tasks he needs to get done.


Assuming 250 working days in a year, and not even counting the amount of time it takes to *get* the resumes in the first place, Tom needs to do these things to accomplish the annual goal for Acme.

  1. At a yield rate of 60%, 80 offers = 0.4 per day
  2. At an offer rate of 50%, 160 second-round interviews = 0.8 per day
  3. At a pass rate of 50%, 320 first-round interviews = 1.6 per day
  4. At a pass rate of 50%, 640 phone screens = 3.2 per day
  5. At a resume acceptance rate of 10%, 6400 resumes = 25 per day

The time it takes to do this is:

0.4 offers made — 1 hour 0.8 second round interviews — 2 hours 1.6 first round interviews- 3 hours 3.2 phone screens — 3 hours

But this already adds up to 9 hours, which is 3x the amount of productive time. (Apparently only 3 hours are productive **)^^ the above are all interruptive needs since they are “live” i.e someone is waiting on you. The only task that’s not live is resume screening, so it takes a back seat.

The reality is, even the most dedicated corporate recruiter never has time to look at resumes, much less respond to them.

Why good candidates slip through the cracks

Even with this overwhelming job, Tom is smart, and he understands that if he can just prioritize finding the better candidates faster from the resume pile, then the rest of his pipeline will have higher yield rates, saving him an enormous amount of time and also yielding better hires.But when he starts sourcing resumes it all goes downhill.

  1. Job boards. Just to get the word out there, Tom posts the top 10 open positions at the company on a public job board. Within 72 hours, Tom has received 100 new resumes, but also 20 marketing emails for other job boards, and 20 cold emails from headhunters.
  2. Search Firms The VC on the company board recommends a preferred recruiting firm to help source candidates to keep “recruiting velocity high”. Now Tom is receiving 1 resume per day per position for the top 10 positions i.e another 10 resumes a day, and also has to check in with the headhunter associates to give them feedback on each candidate they send, and haggle over the commission terms.
  3. Career Sites. Tom finally gets approval to make a careers page for the company and implements a brand new ATS with a built-in career page service. Immediately, he starts getting 10 resumes a day from this channel too, but also several contractors and outsourcing firms start posing as candidates and applying to jobs.
  4. Referrals. Once word gets out that the company is hiring, Tom suddenly starts getting a bunch of forwarded emails internally from people asking him to consider one of their friends for one of the positions. This is another 1 resume per day.All in all, Tom is now flooded with resumes, most of which he already knows are useless.Even before the in-house recruiter looks at a resume, he knows at the back of his mind that there is a 90% chance that this person won’t be the next hire.When we are given a repetitive task with highly skewed outcomes, we tend to optimize performance of the likely outcome, rather than the unlikely one. In other words, Tom gets really good at rejecting resumes fast, simply because that’s what he does 9 / 10 times.This means that the in-house recruiter is 9 times more skilled at rejecting resumes than accepting them.To make things worse, a false positive can have highly disastrous results. If Tom accepted a resume that wasn’t a good fit, it ruins his yield rates and makes him look bad when the interviewers don’t like the candidates he brings in. So when uncertain, Tom naturally errs on the side of rejection than acceptance. There is no FOMO here.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Tom also has to fight high level battles for getting referral bonuses approved, establishing an employer brand, getting interviewers to fill out scorecards for candidates, getting budget to hire another recruiter, etc.

Just like candidates are doing their best to get a job, the recruiter is doing his best to keep his.

The next time someone tells you that recruiters just don't care about candidates, you can share this with them :).

This is a version of an article originally posted on Recruiting Daily.

About Drafted

At Drafted, we believe that your company network is your single biggest competitive advantage when it comes to hiring. Our mission is to make it easy for you to leverage your network in the hiring process to find the best candidates. Your network is already powerful, it’s just too much work to make it a priority over the day-to-day of recruiting. Companies that use Drafted see their employee referral numbers go up by 2x, their time to hire drop by 30% and their overall hiring efficiency increase significantly within just a few months.