Recruitment is probably the last area of business where the customer is far from being in the centre of operations. This is the case for most of the companies no matter if they are recruitment agencies or businesses with in-house recruiters. There are two reasons for this: Recruiters don’t understand their role and business management don’t understand the role of recruitment in the 21st century.
Recruiters have misunderstood their purpose
Imagine that your sales personnel regularly criticized publicly their prospective customers about their incapacity to buy from them. Moreover, they’d spend a share of their work hours to write blog posts, tweets, LinkedIn updates, articles and the like, to explain in detail how their prospective customers should behave, communicate and act in order to be eligible to buy from that specific customer. If this ever happened – even in the case where the customers would actually need such, instead of the sales personnel needing to become better in creating trust and finding what the customer needs – that company would be out of business in no time. This scenario would simply be unacceptable and unprofessional. So why do we allow recruiters to behave exactly in this manner towards their candidates?
The term “war for talent” was coined the first time in 1997, but its meaning and implications obviously haven’t still entirely sinked in for most companies and people involved with recruiting. Finding the right people for the open positions is difficult, regardless of whether you are an agency or internal recruiter, but the problem is self-inflected. In 2017 most recruiters treat their candidates, if they’ll get any in the first place, as if it was still 1977. Most recruiters have failed to understand that the candidates they deal with could be their existing or future customers, business partners, future bosses, friends’ friends, future employees and the like. Even in the case they wouldn’t be any of those, they are still people and everyone deserves to be treated as such! Another critical misconception most recruiters have is to only consider the hiring manager to be their customer. In reality, the candidates are equally important customers for recruiters and they should be treated as such. Many people dare to speak about candidate experience, while what really happens in the interaction with the candidates couldn’t be further from the given promises. The recruiters’ job is to evaluate each candidate’s skills, motivations and potential not only for that specific position but to any other position that could open in the future.
The strongest evidence, that the statements about paying attention on a great candidate experience are mostly cheap talk, are the LinkedIn updates, blog posts, web articles and similar content created by recruiters. Typically, the advise recruiters give to candidates for landing their dream job are just disguised attempts to make their own work easier. If the recruiter would seriously consider him or herself to be there for the candidate, we wouldn’t see daily rants about how the recruiter only has 10 seconds to go through a CV, how the cover letter should be in a given format or the work experience should be listed in the CV in whatever arbitrary order. The most disgraceful piece of “advice” I’ve so far seen came in a blog post titled “What Should You Do After an Interview?”. The post had three points, second one being “Show gratitude”. Seriously!? It’s like a, say, CRM provider would advice their prospective customers to be grateful for having been privileged to meet their sales rep. Just as in sales it’s the sales rep’s responsibility to distinguish the most relevant prospective customers, it’s also the recruiter’s responsibility to distinguish the most potential candidates – regardless of the format and content of CVs, cover letters etc. If they find it difficult or time consuming, maybe they should be doing something else. The solution is not to try to impose groundless rules, wishes or other standards that aim only to make the recruiter’s life easier.
To fix the problem recruiters should stop and think about the way the think about their candidates and how they treat them. If you find numerous excuses for why you can’t act the way your promises and visions about candidate experience describe, you know you’re doing something wrong. Many times, it only requires a shift in your mind-set. On the other hand, many times the root cause for the problem lies in business management’s outdated perception of what recruitment is and should be. These are discussed in the second part of this text and can be found here.
What makes the problem of recruiting not being customer-centric so ugly and slow to change is the fact that unlike in all other businesses, the customers (=candidates), don’t have a genuine channel to give feedback about poor recruiters and recruitment processes. Giving such feedback is considered as bitter talks of a disappointed candidate at best, and at worst it leads you to be branded as “unemployable” by the recruiting agency or hiring company.