Recruiting and Staffing

Is Your Candidate Experience Broken? 5 Keys If Your Recruiting Really Works

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“I don’t understand it. They told me that they were just looking now and that they would not make a decision for at least another three months. Why would you have me make this effort? If I find the role I am looking for, do they honestly think I will stick around for their call? The nerve of them.”

As I heard that, I said that yes, it does make sense. But I also know that we all have done informational interviews from time to time, but three months out is totally different. I don’t know what type interview that I would classify that as.

But this I do know: if a candidate has a bad experience applying for a job, that can play a critical role if your company decides to offer that candidate a position. Your organization is then behind the 8-ball from the start, so if the candidate takes the position, they are probably coming in not fully engaged and already skeptical.

Recruiting: it’s sort of like dating

I have always looked at recruiting as dating, in the old sense of the word.

You both put your best foot forward during the courtship. You both display excellent manners until one of you decides that it is, or is not, a match made in heaven. You would never be rude or unresponsive. And in the end if it does not work out, then you have that conversation and move on.

That’s the way that I have always approached recruiting, too — no bad blood and walk away as friends, because in life, you never know how or when things will come around again.

I had lunch with a good friend the other day who had an interview years ago with a higher level person who basically just stuck her head in the door and spent a few minutes chatting before she passed her on. All the while, she was rude and rushed — and she was the hiring manager.

As fate would have it, this hiring manger lost her job not too long after that encounter. Then at an industry event a few months ago, my friend — now gainfully employed — was approached by this individual, and now, she was all ears with all the pleasantries, good to see yous, etc. She even offered to do lunch or grab a cup of coffee together.

It is amazing what unemployment will do to a person. Now the roles had shifted, and now this person wanted to network.

What you get from a bad candidate experience

Bad treatment during the courting process can cause a candidate to stop pursuing that company or turn down a job offer — that is, if he or she gets that far.

But that’s not the end of it. Employers could lose out on more than just talent when the applicant experience is bad; the company’s reputation and business can suffer, too.

There was a time that organizations were in control of their culture. Not anymore; now you can go to a website like Glassdoor.com and learn everything that goes on inside a company, although I got into a discussion with a senior leader who told me that Glassdoor posts were all from losers and just sour grapes, so to speak.

But my point was that if you took the time to read through some of the statements posted at Glassdoor, and you find a common thread, whether it be about your recruiting process or statements about the company culture, you have a problem.

I always suggest that leaders should take a look at these kind of websites and see what your current, as well as your past, employees are saying about you. If you are trying to build a brand, repair a brand, or just want to maintain your brand status, you have to be aware of what is being said.

5 things to ask about your recruiting process

And on the other hand, your recruiting process must get corrected, so first you should take a quick look at how well your process works. You should:

  • Test the process: Have someone go to your website, and have them search and apply for a job. This is the usually one of the major complaints people have. Is the process easy or is it numerous clicks before they submit? That is why I am a big fan of “Apply with Linkedin,” because it can’t get any simpler than that.
  • Did you receive it. If you did receive the application, did your company acknowledge it? According to a CareerBuilder survey, a massive 44 percent of job applicants heard nothing after applying. That’s kind of like putting it in bottle and tossing it out to sea, then hoping and wondering that someone will come along and pick it up.
  • Kiss and tell. If you had a bad date, will you talk about it? There was a time that this would never happen. Today, not only will people share their every moment, but they surely will tell, text, and tweet to everyone they know about what happened. If they are mistreated, someone else will surely hear about it.
  • Are you intrigued at first sight? When you were initially contacted by the recruiter, did they sound excited and positive? Or, did they sound like this is a call they have to make to go through the hoops? There is a huge difference. That first contact should be exciting and provide a great “customer” experience. Have you ever called customer service and you had someone on the other end that was so enthusiastic that you felt it? If not try Amazon. It was the most amazing call I have ever had.
  • Keep ‘em warm. Every recruiter that has worked for me knows that we have to keep “potentials” engaged in the process. If you say you will call next week, dammit, call next week. If you say you have nothing to tell them, tell them that. Do not under any circumstances tell someone that you will follow up and then not follow through. Our word is our bond. If you agree to something, live up to it. Silence is not an option. My father would always tell me that the most important thing to remember is to always keep your word.

The bottom line is, you can’t mistreat people. You can say you are overworked, have 30 reqs open, working long hours, etc. Yes, you’re probably busy, but I still say that you can’t mistreat people. You must develop a process for following up and keeping them warm because it is important.

Recruiters: why they’re critically important

You are the traffic cop and you are at this busy intersection directing who moves forward into your organization. You have one of the most important jobs in the entire scheme of talent management in your organization.

Just because someone was a great HR coordinator does not mean that their next step is junior recruiter. That step should be reconsidered.

Companies that have great customer service departments spend a lot of time getting the right person in that role. Just a warm body with a heartbeat will not do.

Recruiting has gained a strategic importance. This war for talent is highly competitive, and in order for an organization to succeed, the recruitment professionals must possess not only the skills for the job but the ability to build and grow relationships. They also need to understand the business to recruit and select the right kind of people.

“The fate of your business is held in the hands of the youngest recruit of the staff,” said Akio Morita, the well-known founder of Sony Corporation of Japan.

Yes, those are words to remember — and a good reason to remember why your recruiting process, and treating applicants well, is so critically important to the future of your organization.

Ron Thomas is a human resources officer currently based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He formerly was director, talent and human resources solutions at Buck Consultants (a Xerox Company) and is certified by the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). He's also worked in senior HR roles with Martha Stewart Living and IBM. Ron serves on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He also serves as a faculty partner and executive facilitator at the Human Capital Institute. He has received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence by the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai. Contact him at ronaldtthomas@gmail.com or on Twitter.
  • Cvitton

    Thank you for your outstanding insight to recruiting! 

  • Sarah_caldwell32

    Great post! The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them done unto you!”