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.
Business management doesn’t understand 21st century recruitment
If most recruiters treat their candidates as if it was 1977, the majority of business management treats recruitment and candidates as if it was 1957. Just as most recruiters don’t behave like they do on purpose, I think the same applies for business management. They’ve just been taught that work is about working, not about having fun. Otherwise you’d call it fun instead of work. Besides there are so many unemployed out there that the candidates should be grateful if they got employed in the first place. The situation, of course, has largely changed.
The previous paragraph sums up the root cause for poor candidate experience. There are plenty of managers and executives who think and act like that, not because they’d be mean, but because they haven’t been able to notice the change that has occurred in the job market. And when you haven’t noticed it, it’s impossible to treat the recruiters, external or in-house, accordingly. If you think the job market is as it used to be, the job of the recruiter is not complicated. You publish a job ad on your website, and if extra publicity is needed you publish it in the biggest national newspaper. Considering the number of job seekers out there, after two weeks the recruiter has a pile of applicants, he/she then filters the few most promising ones and hires the best. And off we go to continue with the next recruitment!
Consequently, business management and hiring managers assume recruiters have it very easy during those two weeks they are waiting for applications for that single one opening. For that reason, the management should conduct a rigorous Excel exercise to define exactly how many positions can a single recruiter handle per year. As it seems, most of recruiters’ time is waiting, which equals to costs and inefficiency. The analysis will reveal that a single recruiter can easily bring in 100 recruits a year, and with good tools and systems that number can even double. So up until the recruiter has those 100 assignments on his/her to-do-list he/she shouldn’t be complaining about the quality of candidates or not having enough candidates in the first place.
Some businesses have understood by now that there are more attractive employers out there and for that reason finding the right people is difficult. Luckily, the concept of Employer Branding emerged to solve the problem! By ordering funny corporate bike saddle covers, visiting few schools, telling on your website you offer organic coffee for your employees at the office, and by emphasising how promising a company you are and how interesting and challenging jobs you have to offer, the candidates will start pouring in again! As with advertising and marketing in general it doesn’t matter if none of what you’re saying is true, this is what everyone else is also doing.
Acting in the way described above might indeed increase the number of candidates – temporarily. If your EB efforts weren’t based on reality the word will spread and the candidate number will decrease again. Worst of all, while you had all those people applying to your company, your recruiter(s), internal or external, didn’t have the chance to interact with each candidate the way they should have been interacted and communicated with.
Unfortunately, the situation has been like this already for so long, that recruiters and recruiting have faced inflation. Today people are in general reluctant to engage in recruitment processes which are usually time consuming, often unprofessional and end most times into a disappointment. In IT, the situation has escalated and finding developers is close to impossible. The need for developers is so big that most of them don’t have to anymore waste their time in writing endless amounts of cover letters and engaging in recruitment processes. For them it’s enough to keep their skills up-to-date and being able to demonstrate them in a way or another for future employers. Even when they are called by the recruiters, they can afford turning down 95% of the callers.
If executives and managers don’t wake up and realise that recruitment must be transformed into a genuinely customer-centric (=candidate-centric) business area they will worsen their own and everyone else’s situation in failing to find the most suitable people to their organisations. 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 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. Recruiters have of course the biggest responsibility in making this transformation reality. We are experts in our business and it’s our duty to make everyone understand why candidate experience is equally important to customer experience.