Career Confessions from GenZ! What Does GenZ Think About Your Candidate Experience?

Career Confessions from GenZ is a weekly series authored by Cameron Sackett, a Sophomore at the Univesity of Michigan majoring in Communications and Advertising. Make sure you connect with him on LinkedIn: 

When my Dad approached me with the idea of doing this series, I was skeptical because I don’t know a lot about business! I’m only in my 2nd year of college with almost no experience in the business world. Through this process, I’m learning a lot about business (I see what you did here Dad) and I’m able to start to form some opinions about business practices.

For example, let’s talk about candidate experience. I had never really considered how vital this was until I was applying for internships. Again and again, I would find myself getting the same automated email response after I applied saying “Thank you so much for applying! We can’t wait to get to know you better”. The same age-old response, time and time again. But, after weeks and weeks of waiting, I still hear nothing. Not even a rejection!

Now, I understand some of these companies are getting thousands of applications for these internships, and it’s probably overwhelming to contact every single applicant. On the other hand, I’m taking time to apply for this job that you’re offering and you should let me know whether you want me or not! Another thing that I understand is many times, the odds that I’ll even get an interview for a job are slim to none. Although I know these things, that still doesn’t stop me from forming an opinion about your company through this application experience.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I applied for a marketing internship at the T-Mobile headquarters. I got the same automated response and after months, I’ve heard nothing. This isn’t unexpected; I knew that this internship was probably highly sought after. What T-Mobile is forgetting in this process, is that many college students, just like me, will soon be on the market for cell phone coverage. Currently, I’m under my parent’s cellular plan, but once I graduate, I will have the ability to switch networks if I choose. Even a simple and concise “thanks but no thanks” note from T-Mobile would have helped me to form more favorable views of their company, but they didn’t even do that!

Here’s what I’m saying: if companies are so concerned with “candidate experience”, they should follow through the entire process, not just the beginning of it. Many of these companies are selling products that their candidates might purchase, and if they want their candidates to have favorable views of their company, they should treat them like the potential and valued customer that they are!

And yes, I know I’m a white male college student that has never worked in the business world and doesn’t know how things really are. But, I’m not claiming to be an expert! I’m just out here, trying to gain some experience and hoping to give some insight from an up and coming generation. Really, I’m just out here hustlin’ like everyone else (Now that’s a Tim Sackett phrase if I’ve ever said one. Next time, maybe I’ll include something about rap lyrics or hugging).

Okay – this is Tim back talking – So, TA Pros, are you surprised by what Cameron says above? Hit us in the comments with what you think! 

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a GenZ? Ask us in the comments and I’ll have Cameron respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for Cameron? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Besides being a Dad with a network, I thought the best way to get my son some ‘real-world’ experience would be to put himself out there as a writer! Let him know what you think and let us hear what you would like to learn about the next big generation entering our workforce!

14 thoughts on “Career Confessions from GenZ! What Does GenZ Think About Your Candidate Experience?

  1. These kids today with their expectations of communication and feedback and fairness and closure. 😉 This is at a minimum what candidates should be receiving, regardless if they’re interns or experienced professionals, and many companies, even T-Mobile, are working on it all the time. They don’t always get it right and the challenge is in the sustaining of that give and take. And Cameron, you are right about hitting back with your wallet (or without it) when its a consumer-based business. We see this every single year in the CandE data and the latest North American research report comes out tomorrow! #RightOn

  2. Timmy, are you throwing my game back at me 😉
    That’s cool, however the overwhelming correlation is pointing towards lack of causation, meaning it is neither net good or net bad. I think the sad truth is candidates have such low expectations that they are desensitized to poor experience in the majority of cases (in my lingo tier 2 support and tier 1 support). I think Cameron (who I’m now considering the official leader of Gen Z!) and his generation can demand better and force change. Not to pull a tired yarn, but if the wheel isn’t squeeking loud enough…

  3. lol. Love the “It’s complicated, please understand my problem doing anything so basic as closing the loop.” BS. Great article Cameron. Bring it. Just understand it is only those few employers who listen that are worth your time applying to, choosing, referring others and supporting their products. It’s the only way. And to those still looking for evidence of the cost of how you are doing, look around it’s in front of your nose. Start by measuring the pain you are causing your current candidates and linking it to your function and your firm’s performance. Then, step up.

  4. Tim, definitely get what you’re laying down, but that’s coulda woulda shoulda, there is no evidence to support that it would have a positive impact. There is strong corrollary evidence that the top performing companies, as measured by financial performance, have poor candidate experience. Where I think there is greater ROI is for small and mid sized companies, where they can use experience as a competitive differentiator against the large well known organizations.

    • There’s no evidence to support diversity having a direct financial impact on the bottom line of our organizations, but we still buy that! Before people lose their minds and send the McKinsey study – go to the end of that study and read up on correlation vs. causation. It sounds great as a headline, but it has yet to be proven, but we all agree its the right the thing to do. CX is like that. Do I believe there’s a direct line to better financial impact? Hell no! No one has gone that deep, yet. But, I can see how it could be true.

  5. To be honest, it is impossible to connect with every applicant that applied to a position. Remember it is very easy to apply via mobile and therefore, HR is receiving many more online applications/resumes then previously. Trust me would like to reach out more but we first have to focus on finding the candidate and making the hire. Don’t take it personally.

    • Shelley,

      I think a bunch of people who won CandE awards might disagree with you! But, I think it’s organizational dependent on how important they feel CX is to your organization. I think candidates want to know what to expect. If they know that an automated response is going to be the only thing they’ll probably hear, they’ll most likely be fine. It’s when they expect something different where this unsatisfaction becomes real.

      Thanks for the comments!


  6. First I want to thank Cameron for sharing his time and perspective. In response, I can relate to this same annoyance as a job seeker – and I can relate to being guilty of delayed responses to candidates as a current recruiter of the last six (6) years. Having the unique perspective of both, perhaps this will help you:

    1 – Don’t be afraid to reach out and contact the recruiter / company about your application. If you really applied because you are sincerely interested in doing this internship / job, ask about it a week or so after applying if you haven’t heard back.

    2 – Things happen internally that can cause a recruiter to delay their response: we have to deal with changing requirements from Hiring Managers, internal promotions and terminations that affect the role, budget concerns and more!! Sometimes it’s not that we don’t WANT to connect with you – it’s more about what to say when we reach out….better to keep quiet than send mixed messages as to if you’re a fit or not.

    3 – There’s always something we can do to improve candidate experience (or everything else for that matter) and no one is perfect (candidate or recruiter). Recruiter’s deal with misspelled words on resumes, lack of response from candidates after we attempt to connect, missed interview appointments, and more – clearly leaving room for improvement on the candidate side. Not all candidates are guilty of those things – and not all recruiters are guilty of the others, yet both can improve all the same.

    My two cents on the topic – have a great day!

  7. Cameron, loving these posts!
    Candidate experience is something I personally vacilate on as to whether it truly matters, matters only for some roles, or doesn’t matter at all. As to your example regarding T-Mobile, they clearly have what you felt was a less than desirable candidate experience, no arguing that point. You also note that as an organizatio that has a large retail presence that that experience could have impact on current or potential customers. However looking at it from a business case why should they invest in a better candidate experience, what is the roi. For the last 5 years they’ve had the same candidate experience that you had and their stock performance has increased over 3 fold. So I guess what I’m saying and asking is: I see your point that experience can matter, but to who? It seems the vast majority of candidates never “punish” organizations for poor experience, so without that impetus, why should invest time and money to change their experience?

    • What if T-Mobile’s stock could have gone up 20 fold? 😉 I do believe with CX there is a definite law of diminishing returns on what your organization puts in. Finding that right ratio can be very tricky!


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