Ten reasons we don’t care about candidate experience

We love talking about candidate experience. I hear time and time again how important it is, yet the reality is that most of us are pretty dreadful at it regardless of whether we are HR or recruitment professionals.

The fact is that most recruiters don’t care about candidate experience, and here’s why:

1) We build dodgy website experiences – Most online application processes make getting in to Berghain look like a piece of cake. At a recent event I was at a roundtable of recruiters roundly condemned every single major ATS. And yes, whilst we can be a whiny bunch, there’s some truth in it. If these were e-commerce sites, we’d be losing money.

2) We don’t have time to give feedback – This is probably the defining question that sets out where you are on candidate experience. People tell me they just don’t have time, and I’ve got sympathy with that. But then don’t say you care about candidate experience, because you don’t.

3) We create mystery processes – Would you order something without a delivery time? Enter a competition without any rules? Our single-minded focus on making sure people don’t know how to get a job with us is something to behold. I mean, if people knew, they might hold us to account? And we’re too busy making sure they have a good experience to deal with that.

4) We don’t understand our own biases – I’ve heard too many recruiters….I could actually stop the sentence there and it would be enough…but let’s indulge…I’ve heard too many recruiters say, “I would never consider someone who xxxxx”. Bias? Who knows, but the chance is yes, absolutely. Get yourself here. Now.

5) We allow indefensible criteria – “The manager wants to only see people who can hold eleven marshmallows in their mouth and still hum the national anthem. Apparently the last two job holders could do that and they were both top performers”.

6) We value operational efficiency over optimal pathway – Every process redesign I have ever seen in recruitment has been to make things easier for the recruiter and the line manager. Not once have I seen people take on more work to make the candidate’s life easier. Not once.

7) We want to separate recruitment out from the employee cycle – Centres of excellence, outsourced solutions, service centres. Can you imagine setting up your business so that you sold a product without actually being aware of the quality of the build, design and the delivery times? No, me neither so how can we give candidates a great experience if we don’t know what’s going to happen when they’re hired?

8) We STILL use social media to sell – Even the companies lauded for using social media well are way, way, way behind the customer service functions of most businesses. Candidate experience? Don’t ask us questions and we won’t need to respond. See our FAQ and in the meantime, click this link. Thanks.

9) We work office hours – People enter the recruitment process when they’re not at work. For example, we’ve been using the awesome HireVue technology now for nearly three years. Our data shows that over 50% of people use the system outside of 9-5 and the most popular day is…..Sunday. We know this as a profession, but want to speak to a recruiter out of hours? We’re in the pub. But, don’t let that worry you, just enjoy the experience.

10) We serve the business not the candidate – I’m not saying this is wrong, it’s a thing, it just is. Every time we will put a line manager before a candidate because simply we care more about their experience. I know. I’m not wrong.

Don’t believe me? The REC have just launched the results of their research in to candidate experience, you can get it here.  And whilst you’re at it, join up to the Good Recruitment Campaign here.

Let’s stop talking the talk.

The 5 future trends that HR needs to embrace

Technology is getting smaller

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I know all about BIG technology. Seriously, guys these days don’t know they’re born. I had to wear a back pack for the batteries to support my first Walkman (yeah, I know…..what’s one of those?) and that’s before I talk about my first mobile phone…..which was great. As long as you were within three minutes of a charger.  Not forgetting that it used to take a small army to return the TV to Radio Rentals when you wanted to upgrade to push button technology.

But here is the thing. Whilst hardware has got smaller, so has software. Smaller and a hell of a lot more powerful. There is a platform or solution for almost every single thing you do within the HR department. Hell, thinking about it there is probably even an app that mopes about having a seat at the table too. We should be engaging with this new small technology, seeing where it fits into our business, deploying it effortlessly and through it creating a better employee experience.

Employees are getting pickier

Which brings me on to the next point. Things are picking up out there and people are starting to think about whether they really want to spend another five, ten years dealing with the same rubbish that they’ve had to put up with since 2008. Just being big is no longer going to cut it, just being the market leader is cute, but doesn’t get you a cigar. What is it that you have that makes it a different experience for employees?

You can’t guarantee a job for life, or a gold-plated pension scheme. You probably can’t even promise decent career progression because you’ve been so busy flattening your organisational structures to take out management layers and cost. So what do you have to offer? What is it that makes you REALLY different? Why on earth should anyone work for you?

Talent is getting broader

Fortunately for you, talent pools are getting bigger. You just haven’t worked it out yet. But that’s ok, that’s what I’m here for. You can thank me later. So here’s the thing, the “war for talent” has never really been about talent, that’s just the label they put on it to scare your CEO. It was a war for qualifications and in some way skills. But that’s all about to change, because qualifications are going to become more or less obsolete.

Why? Because the things that you learn at school, at college, at university are great, but they’re going to be irrelevant to the workplace almost as soon as you graduate. Instead what you need to be looking for are the adaptable, self-learning, flexible, curious people who won’t come in to your business expecting everything to be like it was at business school. Because they never went. And these people, are everywhere, you just need to open your eyes and look differently.

Culture is becoming realer

Which brings us on to culture, or, “how things happen around here”. Because you know what? It really makes a difference. I’m not talking about trying to be Zappos or Google. You’ve got more chance of waking up alongside your secret crush of choice. Which is exactly the point. We’re all different, we like different things, we have different looks and we want different outcomes. And so do our organisations.

Being real and open about who you are as a business, accepting your lumps, bumps and blemishes, but being proud of your good bits (no matter how soft a focus is needed) is going to deliver a better performance.  Identifying who you are, getting your senior team comfortable with that and dropping the pretence of being something you’re not. Enough of the authentic leadership babble, we need to start talking about authentic business.

Reward is getting harder

Well, there had to be something that was a bit of a suck in the top five. And this is it. Because the way in which we pay individuals has been pretty static for the last fifty years. The way in which we structure reward is archaic and no longer fit for purpose. I’m not just talking about the cash that you take home to pay the bills and buy the monthly takeaway, I’m talking about the entire reward and compensation framework.

When you look at new entrants to your market, they’re offering entirely different compensation terms. And if you want to compete with these guys for the best people, then you’re going to have to think about how you pay and reward. People aren’t interested in a job for life, the benefits that you offer were drawn up by a 50-year-old white guy, some time in the 80s because they frankly just don’t cut it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the “what we offer” of most corporate websites and then tell me how inspired you are. Then think about change.

Government doesn’t make bad employers

Before the election I was asked to write a piece for HR Magazine laying out my dream policy. The sad fact is that whichever party had come to power the idea of providing free cheese and wine to HR Directors was never really going to get any traction. We can but dream. But, if you’re really interested, you can see the series of articles here.

Since the election, I’m hearing a lot of noise from left leaning, liberal, tree hugging, social media loving types, highlighting the risk to the world of work and employee rights from a right of centre government. And whilst it isn’t surprising (we all know the pantomime lines after all) it does seem to neglect the power that organisations have themselves to create good work and a good working environment.

There seems to be a perspective on organisations that “if you allow them to do it, then they will” which I find patronising and naïve in equal measure. The fact is, that lots of us work incredibly hard year in and year out to make work better AND make profit. That doesn’t mean that we always get it right and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t dodgy employers out there either.

The irony is that the same people who preach trusting employees in the workplace, reducing policies and procedures and placing the emphasis on adult to adult relationships seem to change their tune when it comes to CEOs and their relationship with Government. Employees should be treated like grown ups, but companies? Heaven forbid.

I’ve been involved in the Good Recruitment Campaign, a brilliant initiative from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation supported by many, many large employers who want to ensure high standards in recruitment. I’ve also been involved in the superb Learning to Work initiative from CIPD, which also has many, many high-profile businesses working to help reduce youth unemployment and connect the unemployed with opportunities in their businesses. These are just two, I could go on.

Beside these organised initiatives, there is also good practice going on in organisations up and down the country. Leadership and management teams that are trying to run their organisations well and responsibly and also provide shareholder return. After all, we all benefit from successful companies.

We have it in our power to be either good or bad employers, to treat people well or to treat them badly, to be supportive or attritional in our working relationships. No-one makes us do anything and ultimately we have the choice. The Government doesn’t have to set the agenda for HR, we can set it for ourselves. Instead of whinging and whining about matters beyond our control, let’s get back in to our businesses and make the argument for doing the right thing, regardless of who is or isn’t in power.

The blame game

I understand your hurt,
And your disapproval.

I understand why you want to bring this to my attention,
And I’m grateful.

I understand why you’re upset,
And and I can see your anger.

I understand why you feel we could do better,
And how we could be more.

So I ask you.

What did you do recently that could have been better?
Where could you have done more?

When did you upset someone?
And how did you deal with their anger?

What did you learn about how you could be better?
And how did you take that?

And, most importantly, how do you feel,
When you hear disapproval?

Each time you complain.

Each time you forcefully make your views heard.

It’s unique.
For you.

But if you’re the person on the phone.
Behind the desk. In the office.

If you’re the person paid to listen.

You’re just another one.

Nothing special.

So what could YOU do. To make that experience difference?

To make it beyond the ordinary.

To really make YOURSELF stand out.