Shooting yourself in the foot, the recruiter way

The term, “war for talent” is both divisive and massively open to interpretation. But I can tell you that, if there is one, a lot of recruiters are busy taking aim and shooting themselves in both feet.

Over the ten years I’ve been blogging, I’ve come back to this topic again and again, yet little seems to change. Now that could be a reflection of my lack of influence, or the inherent failings in the recruitment industry.

Most of us have started our working lives doing part time, temporary employment – maybe whilst at school, college or university. It’s our first experience of the world of work and the first experience of recruitment. When I was a teenager that might have been with an independent shop, pub or restaurant but with the changing face of the high street it’s increasingly likely that a young person now will experience this with a chain.

A chain that will hopefully have this young person not just as an employee, but as a consumer. Yet my observation of their collective recruitment practices is one of woeful inadequacies and systemic failure.

Let’s be clear, recruitment is not the same as bidding for an item on eBay, it is a deeply personal transaction. Rejection in recruitment is rejection of a human being, not a bid. It simply isn’t good enough to have an automated acknowledgement and then radio silence. It isn’t good enough to have a line saying, “unless you’ve heard from us within 14 days, assume you’ve been unsuccessful”. And to even think it is, suggests a deeply flawed understanding of the consumer/candidate interface.

Let’s flip it on it’s head. Can you imagine receiving an automated response from a candidate saying, “Thank you for your job offer, if you haven’t heard from me In two weeks assume I’ve rejected the offer.”? What would you make of them? Arrogant?

See where I’m going with this?

That’s before we unpick the detailed connection between the treatment of candidates and their relationship with your brand. You can talk all you like about candidate experience, but unless you define the experience you want to give and transform your processes to deliver it, you might as well be talking about the price of coal.

Recruiters, my ask of you is this. Treat candidates as you’d want a love one to be treated, regardless of their stature and status. Your summer or Christmas temp could one day be your CEO, that is if they haven’t started a new enterprise that will eventually put you and your company out of business.

Recruiting stupidity

Sometimes we get an unexpected lens on the profession. Too often we look from our own position of knowledge and insight and not often enough do we put ourselves in the shoes of a user, whether as an employee or candidate. We talk about “candidate experience” and the role of technology in providing this and  we applaud ourselves on the implementation of systems that improve our speed to hire.

And then we have the chance to look at it from the position of the candidate.

I had this opportunity to do this recently as my daughter applied for Christmas temporary roles with some of the biggest brands on the high street. And I’m here to tell you that your approach well and truly sucks.

Hold in your mind that we are talking about temporary roles here. Maybe four or five weeks. We are talking part time, low paid, customer service roles. We are generally talking about roles that get little training or direction and that are insecure and  disposable.

Which of course is why you need to have an application process that takes on average an hour per role, that includes psychometric testing and situational judgment tests and that results in a standard email telling you that someone will contact you. Which they never do.

Could it be that she just has bad luck? Maybe. But when I talk to her friends they all have experienced the same treatment. And two years ago I had the same experience with my son, resulting in this brilliant message exchange (it was January).

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So of course, your brand just looks a bit stupid and a bit out of touch. When you’re 16, 17, 18 you don’t understand why companies use such laborious and clunky approaches and particularly not as part of an exchange that doesn’t feel fair. You want me to complete all these hoops and hurdles for a minimum wage job with a life expectancy of weeks? No thank you very much.

So yes, it might make life easier for your resourcing teams, but frankly it makes you look stupid. Many years ago I was responsible for recruiting 20,000 Christmas temps for a UK wide high street brand. We put posters up in store asking candidates to speak to the manager inside – ridiculously old school, but funnily, that always seemed to work. And the candidate ALWAYS got to speak to a human being.

Now that’s candidate experience.

 

 

 

 

5 simple ways to make recruitment better

I’m a supporter of the Good Recruitment Campaign and will often help out my friends at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation by going and speaking on the value of good recruitment. I do it simply because I believe it matters.

I wouldn’t mind betting that all of us have been through a recruitment process that completely sucks. And yet, we don’t do enough as professionals to strive to improve the overall quality of the recruitment experience.

When I call this out, the pushback I hear is, “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the resource”. Which frankly is just a pitiful excuse for inaction.

Here’s five things you can do tomorrow that don’t take any time or resource but make a hell of a difference;

  1. Commit to a timeline – tell candidates how the process will work, when you’ll communicate to them and stick to your commitments.
  2. Set the standards – be clear what you’re looking for, how candidates will be assessed and what success looks like.
  3. Get personal – refer to candidates by name, not “candidate” or “sir/madam”. Remember they’re a human being with human emotions too!
  4. Give and receive – depending on how much effort you’re asking the candidate put in, give the same back when it comes to feedback. And don’t forget to ask what you could have done better too.
  5. Be realistic – about your requirements and what you can expect from candidates both in terms of their skills and experience and how much time they can put in to the process. After all, you’re not the only recruiter in town.

I know it sounds simple, but that’s because it is. Ask candidates and you’ll hear that time and time again these simple steps don’t happen. It wouldn’t take much for us to improve our overall performance, so why don’t we even try?

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.