What impression does someone have when a business has poor attention to detail, slow to respond or don’t respond at all, force you into a clunky and irrelevant automated processes that asks an innumerate amount of intrusive questions or ask the same questions that you have already answered? This may well be the reality of what your recruitment team are doing to every candidate that applies to your business! Read on to learn what you might do about it.
Whether they are a terrible candidate or the perfect fit, every single person who applies to work in your team is forced into the one-size-fits-all sausage machine that is your recruiting process. No matter what you think, or what the candidates read on your funky and cool website, the process of being recruited by big corporates or trendy start-ups is grim, robotic and damaging the perception of your business and your brand. Here are four areas you need to sort out to limit that brand damage.
Engage with candidates even when their skills profile / fit is wrong – Many experienced recruiters that I have worked with have come from sales backgrounds. At some point in the past, someone decided that recruiting and sales prospecting skills were similar enough to cross over. I see a lot of benefits in this mindset – driven, goal and measurement orientated, not discouraged by the repetitive task of always having to find new candidates, etc. But a number of the recruiters I have worked with missed the mark in terms of precision and focus, instead adopting a scatter-gun approach. What you end up with is a broad array of skills and experience, with few fitting the criteria to move to the next round of interviewing. This means lots of people who shouldn’t have been contacted did get contacted, creating expectations where there shouldn’t have been any.
If your recruiter is failing to find the right fit or experience level and providing too many candidates with too many skillsets, it’s time to re-brief and re-focus the recruiter (eg model candidate CV from your existing team) to stop wasted effort for recruiter and candidates.
Deliver an anonymous, robotic, online process with no candidate engagement – Probably the biggest disappointment amongst start-up (in particular tech start-ups) is the gap between what the founders think it’s like to join their company versus the reality. There is a plethora of HR and recruitment tools available to businesses big and small to manage candidates and employees, in the same way that our marketing and sales colleagues can choose from lots of different CRMs to manage their customers and prospects. It’s time for businesses to learn that these tools need to be personalised and customised to your brand and personality so that when a candidate interacts with them, it’s more than just a dull never ending list of questions, and more an opportunity to engage the candidate.
Who cares if your job advert mentions beer fridge and free fruit if the next stage is a soulless questionnaire asking highly personal info about criminal history, gender and sexuality? And why would you ask candidates to provide not just a cover letter, but paragraphs on why they want to work for you, why you should consider them and why they think your company is so great? Cringeworthy requests!
Check in with your recruiters what level of candidate completion you get online, versus drop-out rate – if you are loosing candidates at this early stage, you need to take action to change the early life online experience for the better.
Allow recruiters to define skills or personality fit of candidates – I understand that a recruiter acts as a gatekeeper, so that hiring managers don’t have to spend inordinate amounts of time to find and vet candidates, but too many recruiters focus on volume of candidates, rather than quality. When volumes are high, time spent with a candidate is low, as is the attention paid to their skills. In previous businesses I have worked in, recruiters have boasted about spending a mere 20 minutes with strong skill fit candidates before dismissing them. This is not that way it should work!
Recruiters are busy people, so it may be impractical for them to come and spend time in your operation. However, I often find that if they interview one or two of your best people, they get a better perspective of the job, and rather than forming their own opinion of what they think you want.
Rather than delegating key judgement decisions to recruiters, hiring managers should be reviewing and calibrating candidate profiles to ensure good ones don’t slip through the net.
Leave candidate hanging while you finish internal processes – This is an age-old practice which shows at best a business that is rude to candidates looking to join, at worst, a business that is indecisive about who to offer a role to. Wisdom dictated that you only told unsuccessful candidates after you had the signed offer back from your preferred choice. In reality these days, salary and benefit negotiation, various levels of sign off and internal process means you might not go back to unsuccessful candidates till weeks after the interview – very poor experience, topped off with a “please do keep applying for more roles with us in future” paragraph in the rejection email. If you’re really not sure, why did you make the offer? Was it not the right person? Not a good enough package? Did you not find the perfect fit? Better to pause the process and review what didn’t work out, rather than offering an “almost good enough” candidate.
Ensure you have visibility of your end to end recruiter process, respecting all candidates and acting decisively and in a timely manner to be clear and transparent at every stage of the process.
If you replace the word “candidate” with “customer” in the four scenarios above, you can start to see how often a poor experience is delivered. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and a poor candidate experience will not only turn someone off working for you now or in the future, but will also heavily dissuade them from employing your company / using your services in the future.
Going forward, I intend to spend more time ensuring that those who are recruiting in my name for my teams are hitting the mark, creating a positive experience and protecting the company image and brand. You might also want to take a closer look at what your in-house or outsourced recruiter are doing, and where you as the hiring manager need to step in or step up!