I never fail to be amazed by just how often recruitment does a fantastic job of shooting itself in the foot, and it is not always the recruiter who is at fault, but often the hiring managers too.
In an age where reputation and brand is more important than ever, recruitment is still riddled with the kind of thinking that seems detached from the wider organizational picture. Huge investment in brand reputation and customer generation can be completely undermined by a poorly managed candidate experience resulting in candidate resentment, lost future customers and job applicants.
A lack of consideration for the implications of a poor recruitment and hiring experience has ramifications for both the candidate and the organization.
I get that recruiting people is hard. I understand the process isn't perfect. But is it fundamentally broken?
Nearly half of candidates surveyed in the US and UK's candidate experience awards received no feedback whatsoever on their application.
And guess what it is that candidates want most?
There really is no excuse. Technology and infrastructure has created opportunities to ensure every candidate should know what is going on with their application. That is often all they are asking for and the least they can expect.
Communication, as is so often the case, sits at the heart of this. Communication between the recruiter and the candidate, but also between the recruiter and the business.
I say I'm going to call you, but I won't
With the focus of my work in candidate experience, I hear a lot of first-hand accounts of how poorly candidates have been treated.
Take this example:
A teenager is applying for his first part-time job. This is the first time he has to write a CV and a covering letter (What's a covering letter?). But he did. And applied for a job with one of the UK's largest DIY stores. A company that has as its strap line, "Let's do it right."
And he got an interview. Great news. He prepared and thought about his answers as this was a job he really wanted. The first step on the ladder.
The interview went well, they built a good rapport, parted with a firm handshake and said they would be in touch the following Monday.
So when Monday comes round, what do you think happens? He's visualizing himself in the job. His journey to work. Organizing his weekends. How will it actually be? What will his colleagues be like? And, most importantly, how is he going to spend the money?
Except, as you can probably guess by now, when Monday comes there is no call or email. Tuesday comes and again still nothing. In fact, he never heard anything again.
It's a tough world out there, fella. Chin up. That's the way they all are. Recruitment is a broken process.
Needless to say none of his family are shopping at this store anytime soon.
Take another example of someone who recently applied for a senior role at one of the UK's largest banks and describes itself as the world's largest building society:
They list one of their values as 'Doing the right thing'. They have a strong reputation amongst consumers and as a result their employer brand has a positive association. Treat people the right way and with respect. Sounds good.
Following the interview the candidate was advised:
"We'll contact you after we've seen everybody else and have made a decision. That will be next Thursday."
So in this time, what do you do? You think about the job. Again, you visualize yourself in that role and what it would be like.
Except when Thursday comes - a week after the final interview - there is no phone call. No message or email.
Friday - still nothing. Had they simply forgot?
We know they're busy people, but this is quite an important decision to know about. Either way.
After a chase the following week and speaking to a recruiter who didn't know what was going on because the hiring manager hadn't told them, they eventually receive a call another two days later and a full week after the date they were advised, saying they hadn't got the job.
Effectively wasting a week of someone's time, emotional energy, hopes and expectations. But rest assured, they will tell everyone about their experience, including all their friends in HR and recruitment. That's the way it rolls.
This situation could have been avoided if the hiring manager and recruiter had given more thought to the care and consideration they should be delivering to their candidates.
There is a responsibility on both sides.
If, as the company highlights on its website it takes pride in what it does and wants to do the right thing I wonder how proud it feels about this process? Is this a case of 'doing the right thing'?
Let's be clear here. Being rejected does not constitute a bad experience, but poor management, communication and process does.
Why is it so difficult to do what you say you're going to do?
And why do organizations allow this to happen?
If you're in a sales job and you just decide not to get round to calling someone a week later than you said you would - you can guarantee someone would be on your case. And rightly so. Not in recruitment it seems. It doesn't matter. Is there no ownership or accountability?
It doesn't have to be this way.
There are many hard-working and dedicated recruiters and teams who have a tough job managing volumes of applicants. There are many that do work hard to ensure they deliver a good candidate experience, but overall industry standards are not good enough.
Marginal gains and marginal touches
A published report by REC - The Candidate Strikes Back - highlighted that research by the CEB showed that organizations undervalue the business impact of candidate experience.
How much do you think these organizations care about their brand? Not only the damage to their employer brand and their ability to recruit, but also the consumer impact.
In the hospitality industry they talk about the marginal touches that make a difference to someone's experience. Marginal decisions equals marginal gains. The aggregation of marginal gains is what can make the difference to the bottom line - or in the case of a poor experience, marginal losses.
The above examples haven't just been let down by wider strategic objectives, but in this case, individuals not getting the basics right.
Companies invest heavily in their brand reputation and all that investment in enticing that one customer can be destroyed with one job application.
Do the right thing (don't just say you will)
The hiring process often falls apart because of poor process and communication between systems, recruiters and hiring managers.
Recruiters are reliant on the hiring managers to work with them and vice versa, but each have a responsibility to work together effectively for the benefit of the candidate.
Front line customer service staff are regularly reminded of their responsibility to the organization and their role as brand ambassadors. Every interaction with customers reinforces this.
Recruiters need to recognize they also can make or break an organization's reputation when dealing with candidates. Organizations also need to recognize and value this and give it the attention it needs. They need to invest in candidate experience and protect their brand with more than just lip-service and a few shallow ideas. It needs to be driven across organizations with hiring managers also sharing this load.
Fundamentally, there is a lot to be positive about in the way recruitment is evolving and utilizing progressive technology, but it needs to be shaken to the core where responsibilities and values need to place a higher value on the candidates' time, effort and emotional energy that goes into a job application.
By doing the right thing for the candidate you are also doing the right thing for the organization, its reputation and its brand.
About the author - Nick Price is one of our guest writers. He is a communications and employer branding specialist with a vast amount of knowledge in this space. He is doing some very interesting work with www.workingfilms.co.uk if you would like to check out their website. You can find him on LinkedIn or email him via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like some advice on employer branding/candidate experience. We highly recommend subscribing to Career Life Stories via the Working Films website - they are brilliant videos!
Credit to Flazingo.com for the image used above.