The Candidate Experience, and Other Stuff HR Wastes Time On

Do HR professionals think "The candidate experience is like "opening your kimono?" (Photo by istockphoto.com).

By Tim Sackett

It feels like things in the labor market – at least in many professional classifications – are starting to pick up. Temp hiring is up 22 percent in August and that is definitely one sign direct hiring will follow.

As hiring picks up, many HR professionals like to focus on things that can’t be measured. Why? Well, having measures means someone is tracking your results, and having to be measured against results is uncomfortable, and look, we all didn’t get into HR to be uncomfortable is all I’m saying!

HR pros love to talk about “The Candidate Experience” like it’s really important – as if it’s the Silver Bullet to all of HR’s problems. “You know if we could just make candidates love our “process” we would get so many more talented candidates.”

So goes the broken theory. Candidate experience is one process that, even with the best Gerry Crispin measures and analysis, is a subjective measure at best and in the end one that completely takes you away from the “root” problem that you have.

Why do you worry about “The Candidate Experience?”

This is where it gets difficult for HR pros, because admitting that it’s not about “The Candidate Experience” is a little like “opening your kimono.” The best companies to work for don’t worry about “The Candidate Experience” because of these reasons:

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  • If you’re a great company to work for – your “Candidate Experience” doesn’t matter – people will come anyway.

Now, before you HR pros get all worked up – listen! I’m not saying to treat people like garbage because you know you’re great and they come anyway. The fact of the matter is, if you’re great you probably have a “Candidate Experience” that is already “good enough,” so go and worry about something else that’s closer to the business.

  • If you’re not a great company to work for,  your “Candidate Experience” is not your biggest issue, so go focus on the real problems.

The real “Candidate Experience” you should strive for

Let’s face it, if you have a bad “Candidate Experience” you probably have some major cultural issues to deal with in your organization. How hard is it to get your HR team and hiring managers to treat people with average respect? If you can’t do that, “The Candidate Experience” is the least of your worries – or should be.

Beyond all of this, I wonder, what we (as HR professionals) should really be striving for in “The Candidate Experience?” The very best companies in the world to work for are very hard to get into. Why? Because they’re the best and everyone knows it, so they have millions of candidates fighting to get in.

Candidates fighting to get in to work for you; isn’t that really “The Candidate Experience” you should be striving for?

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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