The increasing automated nature of corporate recruiting should improve the candidate experience. Still, as numerous commentators in the human resources space have noted, the process is not great and more work needs is required to make it better. There are many key players in the entire process, but most importantly, it is the hiring managers that drive everything as they ultimately make the hire. The essence of this fractured relationship between corporate recruiting and candidate experience is candidly summarised by a post by editor and consultant Deborah Branscum who remarks that “if hiring managers were doctors, half of the new patients would be dead in 18 months.” This is a stark assessment considering we are in a fiercely competitive labour market with companies fishing in the same talent pool as every other competitor. Here are some (not all) of the common ills of the candidate experience:
- Despite ATS’s, candidates are still falling through cracks, and it is taking longer to fill positions
- Despite the commonly held belief that candidates are flexible on location, they want to work somewhere that is within commuting distance of the office
- Assumptions are made regarding candidates salary expectations
- Candidates are passed between pillar and post by different hiring managers – and that is just at the CV review stage!
- Candidates are not correctly updated on their candidacy
- Candidates aren’t interviewed promptly
- Candidates don’t get the feedback they are looking for – responses are not constructive but general
- Candidate experience doesn’t rank highly on a hiring managers list and is increasingly misunderstood altogether
- The onboarding experience is falling by the wayside with an increasing number of candidates rejecting offers after they have accepted
- The automated nature of recruiting results mostly in communication with the candidate via email
- The employer brand is suffering
The reality is that as technology and trends have changed over time, behaviours have not. Recruiting is evolving, so should action and with that policies and procedures to reflect the changing nature of the labour market. To get it right, companies need to develop a service orientated mindset rather than being transactional. Hiring Managers and other key players need to become brand ambassadors for their company and become invested in improving candidate experience as they are invested in their day jobs.
Be the Hiring Manager that sets an example
The role of the Hiring Manager is central to getting the entire process to work correctly, so the following improvements should be put in place for Hiring Managers:
Holiday handover – When going on holiday, put a handover plan together updating the rest of the team on candidates, delegating responsibility for interviews and offer approvals. Don’t put things on hold when you go on holiday. Recruiting is essential business!
Don’t set false expectations – If a candidate is interviewed and you promised to get back to them with feedback within two weeks, do get back to them and don’t forget about them! Treat others as you would like to be treated. Failure to do so is a recipe for disaster, and you run the risk of bringing the employer brand into disrepute.
Interview feedback – When you do get back to the candidate with feedback, be constructive rather than general – give them the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether candidates are successful or not, candidates will value your insight as it might help them improve their interview performance next time they go for an interview, or might even help them address a weakness that was not apparent to them before. If they are the excellent candidate for future roles, welcome them to reapply, and keep in touch with them.
Work in partnership – Keep your recruitment department fully updated on candidates in the interview process, work with them on resourcing needs, and be fully aligned with them so they can go to the market to deliver the key marketing message(s) of why candidates should join your team.
Interview team – Have an interview tag team in place that can pick up the baton from you if you are going to be out of the office or tied up on a project. Delegate responsibility to them to continue the interview process in your absence, and have pre-agreed interview dates in the diary so that candidates are interviewed without delay.
Get everybody on the same page – Make sure resourcing needs are filtered down to all levels. Avoid scenarios where conflicts between workload and resourcing needs occur. If you have a hire to make, ask yourself – is there physical desk space available for them, which office will they be based in, what work will they be doing, do you need to hire in the first place? Addressing these questions will eliminate inefficiency and help to increase the speed of hire.
Time management – As Hiring Managers, you do have a day job. Still, you also have the responsibility to grow the team and contribute towards profitability so set aside ample time for reviewing candidate applications, providing feedback to the candidate, conducting interviews etc.
Improved processes and procedures
A periodic review of the effectiveness of current recruiting processes and procedures will help highlight any deficiencies but to create a recruiting model fit for purpose, and the following elements should be considered:
Return to traditional communication – To counter the behaviours triggered by ATS’s, less email more phone should be the order of the day. A personal touch goes a long way to improving the candidate experience.
Be social – An increasing number of candidates are on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Hence, a dedicated social media strategy is a must for companies if they want to engage with the talent pool properly and effectively deliver the EVP. The employer brand will be rendered irrelevant if there is a lack of social media presence.
Careers site – Have a dedicated career site candidates can visit to obtain information on the interview process – i.e. what is involved and how long it takes, the work the company does, interactive employee testimonials, FAQs. A careers site will also play an essential part in communicating the EVP to the external market.
Recruitment model – As companies grow, resource needs will increase too, so a fundamental discussion around the recruitment model should take place – is the recruitment model geared up for a growing business, is it set up for volume recruiting, are there enough recruiters, do processes need to change to reflect growth? Honest discussions on the recruitment model will help create an effective in – house team.
Despite improvements in technology and the rise of social media, companies still strive to create a positive candidate experience. Persistent issues exist which need to be addressed, but the focus needs to be on being proactive and hiring at a faster pace. Companies can’t operate at a reasonable speed but need to react faster on candidates as competition for candidates intensifies. At the Hiring Manager level, more management training should be put in place to help clearly define their roles, responsibilities and their understanding of the interview and selection process. A negative experience will turn off candidates, but a positive candidate experience will serve as a formidable recruiting sergeant.
Let’s face it, the West in the doldrums. High unemployment, high inflation, social and political unrest and ailing infrastructure are all common features and will be for the foreseeable future according to many analysts. Western governments won’t admit it but there is an analysis paralysis of what to do to turn economic fortunes around. In particular, the economic uncertainty in the UK is now an increasing factor why many British residents are opting to pack their bags in return for a brighter future overseas. Here are five reasons why you might choose to accept that overseas job offer:
The economy :
A lack of investment, stagnant job creation and an ailing industrial sector are causing alarm bells to ring in key government and business circles. The cost of doing business in the UK has gone up considerably with fuel costing companies a fortune and as a result many energy intensive industries are suffering substantially. Tata Steel for example has not made a profit in Europe for several years and SABIC Europe, backed by its Saudi parent is scaling back operations in the UK just to stay competitive. Also, the UK has one of the highest levels of personal household debt in the world. If things don’t improve, many companies will disappear altogether.
Socio – political issues:
The immigration debate in the UK is fuelling multiple issues on both sides of the fence including an increased hostility towards immigrants and certain religious groups , rise of far right groups, and a growing sentiment in public that immigration needs to be controlled. Some analysts have even linked immigration with the financial pressures facing the NHS and public services. Whilst that is anecdotal, a rising population has added to operational pressures on the NHS with the institution facing a staffing crisis and serious reputational damage due to a number of high profile failings across hospitals in the UK which continue to undermine confidence in the NHS. Education too is facing significant challenges with the cost of going to college/university rising and more and more school leavers thinking twice about whether to be saddled with a lifetime of debt or take up an apprenticeship or start their own business. The UK will fail to produce quality talent that companies in the UK so badly need if the rising cost of higher education is not addressed.
A common question the UK tax payer is asking is “where is our money being spent?” Poor quality roads, ageing rail infrastructure and a lack of housing are putting pressure on the Government to reduce the deficit but at the same time making vital investment that is required to sustain thriving, modern cities. A report commissioned by housing charity Shelter stated that young people now need to save money for 30 years in order to put down a deposit for a house. This all does not bode well for future generations, and will lead to a disenfranchised electorate.
Better career opportunities:
Go east if you want better career opportunities and an improved quality of life. Ask many expats and that’s probably what they will tell you. The east is creating more jobs and at a faster rate, and governments are spending freely on infrastructure which has created stupendous levels of economic growth. For example, it is believed that the GCC’s current rail infrastructure project will spawn a whole new railway services industry in the Middle East. Similarly, rising populations in the GCC region have spawned a growing healthcare industry in the region. If you choose to work in a tax free country like the UAE, Saudi Arabia or Qatar you have the opportunity to save money either through salary or bonuses (which still exists in the current climate), something that is otherwise a struggle in the UK.
This year March was one of the coldest months in living memory and weather experts have recently declared that British summers are likely to be wet for the next decade. British weather is and will be unpleasant for many years to come. This is not good news for people who like a bit of sunshine in their lives, and want to stay healthy.
After spending several wonderful years in Dubai, the cultural experience was vast. What I learnt during my time living and working there is that now I have a better appreciation for and understanding of different cultures. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures where east and west co – exist peacefully. In a business, context, I have now become a more globally minded individual – having a better understanding of how business is conducted in a global hub like Dubai. Culture has certainly enriched my life.
The decision to accept an overseas job offer can be a daunting one for most. Some people like a sense of adventure and don’t think twice about making a move whilst others remain conservative about such a prospect. Whatever you decide to do though, make sure it makes financial sense for you and above all take your time to figure out whether or not you are comfortable living and being part of another country. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
The global economic crisis has triggered significant changes in the global labour market. Qualified people find themselves underemployed, mature workers are frozen out, graduates are struggling to get jobs, and disengaged workers are sitting tight in the hope that the market will rebound for them to make a move, and an increasing number of people choosing not to go to college/university .These are just a few of the trends that are reverberating the world over, especially in Western economies. Faced with an acute shortage of quality talent, Hiring Managers should not be too picky when it comes to making hiring decisions and instead think outside the box when sourcing candidates for job openings. Below are talent pools that Hiring Managers should not ignore:
Individuals returning to work: Mothers who have taken time off to have children and want to get back into work have high levels of motivation and desire. If you are willing to spend some time and effort to reintegrate them back into the work routine, they can prove to be useful hires. Similar applies to ill people who have recovered from an illness and want to return to work.
The unemployed: Many experienced individuals have been frozen out of the market altogether through no fault of their own. This is evident in the banking and financial services sector that was the worst affected at the height of the financial crisis. So don’t make assumptions about the unemployed! You may just be able to unearth a gem.
Army veterans: Ask anybody who has been in recruitment and they will tell you that ex – army personnel make really good hires. They are highly disciplined, professional and can possess a wide skills set. If you are a small to medium sized business in particular, this talent pool can add significant value to your company.
The under qualified: Last year French engineering giant ALSTOM announced that they welcome applications from individuals who are only a 70% fit for the job. The company stated that it would pay for engineers to train up to a certain level – this is a game changer and an innovative solution to tackling skills shortages within the engineering sector. So next time you receive an application from someone working at McDonalds, don’t be quick to dismiss them as unsuitable. Successful and thriving companies develop and nurture talent.
Overseas candidates: Tight immigration rules in Western economies mean that companies will find it harder to attract quality talent. Multinationals such as Infosys have expressed concern that they will not be able to hire the quality talent they need for the UK. Draconian and restrictive employment practices have also rendered professionals such as doctors, lawyers, engineers from overseas doing menial jobs in the UK. If nothing is done to challenge these policies and practices, then Western companies will continue to suffer skills shortages.
The over – 50s: It is a widely accepted misconception that if you are over 50, you are on the scrap heap. As a result of this many companies turn a blind eye to CVs. A disconnect with reality prevails as companies are failing to understand that due economic pressures and the pensions crisis, the modern workforce will get greyer and older. Research has shown that over – 50s have higher levels of engagement and have a stronger appetite for work.
There will continue to be significant challenges to sourcing talent if certain attitudes do not change. Innovative thinking is required if the Hiring Managers really want to tackle the skills shortages.
Searching for a job isn’t fun, and if there is anybody out there who found it enjoyable, I would be most interested to hear from them. For most people, it is a stressful, time consuming and gruelling experience. The changing economic climate has only made it more difficult than ever before to look for a job with the average job search now taking six months, and even more depending on the type of industry.
The main challenge for companies is to find the right quality of expertise which is becoming harder to find. An ageing workforce and lesser quality fresh talent coming off the conveyor belt is making recruitment and retention a number 1 challenge for companies. We are now entering a whole new age of employee engagement and retention where companies need to be on the front foot in the identification, development and preservation of quality talent.
This challenge is now forcing many companies to become more innovative with their recruiting methods. Some companies have embraced social media and incorporated it into their recruiting apparatus, while others remain more loyal to traditional forms of recruiting via advertising in newspapers, job boards etc. Increasingly, many companies employ the services of a headhunter to help them find and attract talent. As we progress in this information age, technology is going to play an even more significant role. As individuals, we are going to be better connected, and that means we will be more visible to the outside world. If your name exists anywhere in print or online, the chances are you are likely to get an email or a call from a headhunter.
So if a headhunter called you, why should you entertain their call? First, they have probably contacted you about a job that isn’t advertised anywhere publicly. Headhunters have access to the ‘hidden job market’, so if they called you, it’s because they think you might be suitable for a new challenge. Second, even if you do not display a genuine interest in what they want to talk to you about, it’s probably worth keeping in touch with them as you never know what the future holds. A good headhunter will be a very well connected person who could put you in touch with potential future opportunities. So if you have a particular skillset and haven’t had a call from a headhunter, you should expect one in the not too distant future.
Photo credit: CELALTEBER