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Is L&D the Secret to Understanding Candidate Expectations?

When it comes to talent acquisition in 2024, having an edge matters. We all know the atmosphere TA is operating within – 88% of organizations admit they are struggling to find and hire the candidates they need for success. There is a huge weight of responsibility on recruiters; turnover is on the rise, rapidly evolving tech re-writes traditional playbooks almost daily, neverending skills shortages, and, most notably, there is a huge change of dynamics in terms of candidate expectation.

Even a quick Google search will provide a litany of reports, statistics, and commentaries tracking the transformative nature of what candidates are actually looking for from a hiring process right now. And there is thread of consensus among these studies:

  • Transparent salary information.
  • Career growth opportunities.
  • A concise timeline.
  • Clear communication through the process.
  • Job security.
  • Empowering and inclusive cultures.
  • Flexibility. 

But the reality of talent acquisition doesn’t often reflect this. As Andrew MacAskill, one of SocialTalent’s interviewing experts, says: 

It’s flabbergasting to me how many hiring leaders still haven’t realized that, in this market, they are the candidate.

Even in the midst of economic downturn, the best talent still has choice and will not settle for a sub-par hiring experience. But the only way recruiters can contend with this is through up-skilling. Learning and development are the keys to ensure that hiring processes match the heightened expectation from candidates. Let’s get into it!

1. A Clear and Concise Process

According to IBM, candidates are 38% more likely to accept a job offer after having a positive experience. And a HUGE part of a positive experience comes from creating a process that is both clear and concise. But how can L&D help in this regard?

John Vlastelica, renowned talent expert and SocialTalent author, says that learning to improve candidate experience is:

One of the ways we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors and build our reputation. But a great experience doesn’t just happen by accident, it takes a little planning and focus, and some feedback and accountability.

The crucial part of this quote is the line ‘doesn’t just happen by accident.’ Understanding what candidates want takes effort, and learning forms the backbone of this. Through targeted and consistent training, recruiters can learn how to:

  • Create a hiring process that eliminates unnecessary and frustrating steps.
  • Communicate effectively and meet talent where they’re at.
  • Build a journey that champions inclusion.
  • Approach feedback in a manner that can enact change.
  • Streamline and optimize software.
  • Build relationships with hiring managers and key stakeholders

Only through L&D can recruiters level-up and craft a hiring process that meets (or even exceeds) a candidate’s expectation. Take a look at your TA team’s outreach – does the copy inspire? Do they follow up with candidates and seek to make positive change? Are they acting with speed, quality, and diversity in mind? Going through the motions or relying on traditional methodologies just won’t cut it in this market.

Learn More: How to Build the Perfect Candidate Experience

2. The Era of AI

A natural by-product of learning is, of course, gaining new skills. This is a shock to no-one! But when we put AI into the equation, this suddenly becomes a whole different ball game.  

Speaking about the impact of AI on the recruiting landscape during our SocialTalent Live event, Mike Wolford, the Director of Analytics at Claro, said that:

AI has the ability to give us back time and be the recruiters we want to be.

There is no more transformative force in the world of TA right now than AI. Leveraged effectively it can be the difference-maker when it comes to tailoring a hiring process specifically for the talent an organization is looking for. And according to the 2024 LinkedIn Workplace Learning report, 80% of people want to learn more about how to use AI in their profession, while The Future of Recruiting study found that there has already been a 14% increase in recruiters adding AI skills to their profiles in the last twelve months.

We know that candidates want a quick, personalized, and quality hiring experience – and we know that AI can play a huge role in facilitating this. But not without proper instruction.

AI represents the next generation of recruiting, and we’re not going to avail of its full potential unless we spend time upskilling. Whether it’s learning how to craft the perfect prompt for ChatGPT or inputting complex automation series, L&D is at the core of this revolution. 

Learn more: How is AI impacting Recruiting? 

3. Building a Candidate-Centric Culture 

In the swiftly evolving landscape of talent acquisition, the key to staying ahead actually isn’t just about understanding current candidate expectations but anticipating future shifts. Embedding a culture of continuous learning and adaptation within our organizations empowers recruiters to be not just reactive but proactively agile

By making L&D an integral part of our company DNA, we pave the way for TA teams to embrace adaptability as their core strength. This means not only keeping abreast of the latest in market trends and technologies, but also fostering a deep, empathetic understanding of the candidate experience. 

A candidate-centric culture thrives on feedback loops – connecting candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, and leadership to refine the recruitment process continuously. It encourages leadership to visibly support and invest in L&D initiatives, driving home the importance of meeting candidate expectations as a strategic advantage. In this environment, recruiters transform into agile professionals equipped with the insights and skills required  to navigate the complexities of the job market. They become adept at crafting personalized, engaging hiring experiences that resonate with candidates, setting the stage for not just filling positions but building lasting relationships. As we cultivate these adaptive, learning-focused teams, we not only enhance our competitive edge but also future-proof our organizations against the unpredictable dynamics of talent acquisition.

As Kate Bravery, a Senior Partner at Mercer, argues in their 2024 Global Talent Trends report

Organizations are taking this opportunity to reset their people strategy to intentionally build more sustainable, more inspiring, less exhausting work models.”

And this is exactly how learning and development can support and nurture a TA team to be adaptive and agile, no matter what candidate expectation may look like.


As talent acquisition continues to evolve, the distinction between merely filling positions and truly attracting the best talent lies in a proactive, candidate-centric approach, underscored by a relentless commitment to learning and development. 

The transformation within the job market, driven by shifting candidate expectations and the rapid advancement of technology, especially AI, underscores the imperative for recruiters to not just react to changes but to anticipate and shape the future of hiring.

By embedding continuous learning and adaptation into the core of an organization’s culture, talent acquisition teams are empowered to develop a deeper understanding of what candidates truly seek, from transparent salary information to career growth opportunities and beyond. This proactive agility enables recruiters to craft hiring experiences that resonate on a personal level, fostering meaningful connections that extend beyond the hiring process. Investing in L&D is not merely a strategic advantage but a necessity in building resilient, adaptable teams capable of navigating the complexities of today’s job market. 

Want to see how the SocialTalent learning platform can help elevate your candidate experience? Contact our team today.

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