It’s been 15 years since I have applied for a job “cold,” without an employer reaching out to me in advance. Given the many changes in the labor market, especially in the past two years, I wanted to know: What’s it really like for job seekers today? 

To find out, I conducted an experiment. I created an Indeed profile with my full professional resume and applied to 50 jobs across diverse industries and experience levels. In some cases, I applied for more than one role at the same company if they offered different application processes — for example, one with Indeed Apply and another with their applicant tracking system (ATS).

The results were humbling and eye-opening. Sadly, 44% of employers never responded to me. Thirty percent declined me, most via an impersonal, auto-generated note — not great for the ego but better than not hearing back at all. Happily, 26% invited me to interview. 

Reflecting on this experience, here were my top three disappointments:

First, each ATS application process took too long — on average between six and ten minutes. I had to create a new account with a login and password. Next, I’d upload my resume and then retype most of it, due to poor parsing. After that, I often ran into multiple pages of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) questions. I now understand how Fortune 500 companies lose up to 90% of potential applicants due to a frustrating process. 

The second biggest disappointment was the number of broken links I encountered. For example, an invitation to schedule an interview via text message repeatedly took me to a page with no time slots available. When I texted back that no slots were available, the system responded that it couldn’t understand me. How many great candidates were lost to that glitch?

Last, there was the frustration of not hearing back when I knew I could do the job. This was especially true in one case where I had to take a full personality test as part of my application — and then never got a response!  

With a bad experience, job seekers lose out — and so do employers

As an industry, we’ve known for years that bad candidate experiences can be expensive mistakes. Seventy-two percent of job seekers who have had a bad experience will tell others about it (according to Indeed research), and 64% will become less likely to purchase from your company. You’d think as employers, given these costs, we’d improve our candidate experiences each year, but the opposite is true. According to the Talent Board, last year candidate resentment increased 75% in North America, the largest increase in a decade.

What’s more, even as recession fears increase, job seekers still have a lot of options. Companies with slow hiring processes are losing out on great talent, not to mention wasting a lot of time and money.

As Indeed, we are on a mission to make hiring simpler, faster and more human — improving the experience for both job seekers and employers. Our innovation agenda is focused on delivering the hires employers need while improving candidate quality, speeding time to hire and reducing total cost.  

Broad reach and an understanding of job seekers: How Indeed is delivering hires 

Globally, at Indeed, we’ve now surpassed 300 million unique visitors monthly, with 225 million profiles and growing (Indeed data, worldwide). Our Trusted Media Network allows us to reach another 185 million job seekers globally off Indeed (source: SimilarWeb).  

To better understand job seekers, we pay close attention to their actions on Indeed and our sibling company Glassdoor as they read employer reviews, apply to jobs, take assessments, respond to outreach and interview with employers. We also learn from the preferences they share. When job seekers set up a profile, they can specify the types of jobs they’re interested in, including desired location, schedule, title and pay. This helps us ensure that neither side wastes their time if expectations aren’t a match.

We remain committed to transparency

As part of our commitment to providing transparency for job seekers, Indeed now shows any available information about shifts, schedules and pay on jobs. Pay transparency, in particular, is a top request. Sixty-five percent of job seekers in an Indeed survey say pay is the most important part of the job description. Pay transparency also benefits employers, as jobs with pay receive 30% more apply starts than those without pay (Indeed research, US). Already, approximately 60% of US jobs on Indeed include pay information, the majority provided directly by employers (Indeed data).  

We’re improving candidate quality with structured matching and skill-based evaluations

To improve the quality of our matching, we’re collecting structured information from jobs and job seekers. Next year, we’ll add the ability to edit jobs from any career site directly on Indeed — enabling employers to add must-have requirements, salary, location and more.

Improving candidate quality also means showing job seekers whether they might be lacking qualifications specified in the job description. For example, I was advised I might be missing a background in manufacturing and operations management as part of one of my applications, and it made me think twice before proceeding.

We’ve also been steadily moving Indeed from a search-led job seeker experience to a recommendation-led experience. For example, when job seekers visit Indeed’s home page, they no longer have to search for a job. Instead, they see a personalized feed of job recommendations. For employers, we recommend matching candidates for outreach, both for jobs posted on Indeed and with our resume sourcing experience. 

Last, we’re focused on supporting more objective, skill-based hiring, offering a library of 200+ skills assessments, structured screening questions and more. Our research shows it’s working, as jobs with assessments have higher interview pass rates and are filled 77% more often in the US.  

We’re speeding time to hire with automation while maintaining quality

Launched in 2021, Indeed Hiring Events automates 70% of the steps to the first interview, including sourcing, screening, scheduling and communications (source: Indeed data, US). 

Employers specify their requirements for the role and available interview slots up front and then show up to interview qualified candidates in those time slots. Interviews typically occur within days versus the weeks in a typical hiring process.

Automated interview reminders mean employers using Indeed Interview, part of Indeed Hiring Events, now enjoy 40% fewer no-shows than those doing in-person interviews in the US, according to our research. What’s more, 75% of more than 4.2 million total candidates interviewed year to date worldwide have been deemed a good fit for the role by employers, our research finds. And 84% of employers in the US tell us the diversity of their applicant pools improved with virtual interviews.

We’re obsessed with reducing waste in the hiring process

With the average cost-per-hire at more than $4,500, and with less than 1% of interested candidates converting to hires (according to Jobvite) over 40 days, there’s a lot of waste in the average hiring funnel.  

Objective-based campaigns help reduce wasted advertising funds by aligning spending to hiring goals. You can set a target number of applications, cost per application or even a target number of interviews. 

When it comes to converting interested job seekers into applicants, the biggest sources of waste are long applications and poor communication — two things I saw up close in my experiment. In contrast, companies with Indeed Apply see up to 4x better conversions (Indeed data, worldwide). 

The last, big source of wasted spend — and loss of great candidates — is manual interview scheduling, often with days or weeks of back and forth. With Indeed Hiring Events’s automated interview scheduling, we’ve found that employers see 3x higher conversion from click to interview in the US compared to traditional ATS processes.  

Bold plans for 2023

I’m a big believer in bold strategies to achieve success. And as you can see, Indeed has bold plans for the year ahead. All reflect our focus on improving job seeker experiences — and making hiring dramatically simpler, faster and more human.