How to improve Candidate Experience while using agency recruiting?

A few weeks back, my husband received a call at around 6.00PM in the evening. The conversation was as below.

Caller: Hi, Is this Ashish?

Ashish: Yes, speaking.

Caller: I’m (#name). Are you available?

Ashish: (Pausing for a few seconds) Uhh…No??

Caller: Are any of your friends available?

Ashish: I don’t think so??

Caller: OK. Thank You!

That was it. No head, no tail and not even a far cry of such a thing called context. Ashish was baffled and I think he was happy too to get a call asking if he was available (:P),though he didn’t mention that to me. Shortly, he received an email from the same person and that was for a job opportunity with a client and he was a recruiter, working with an agency. I am not exaggerating a bit here and this is how exactly it happened. Thank God for that email which he sent intentionally or unintentionally.

All of us would have received such bizarre calls from recruiters at one point or the other. And I have observed that a lot of such calls have been from agency recruiters in my personal experience. Now, please don’t get me wrong here. I have nothing against agency recruiters and I have worked closely with a couple of them who were really great and inspiring .I need to mention here that this two part series of posts here was actually inspired by one such wonderful recruiter whom I recently worked with. But like in all professions, there would be a few like Mr.#name in the above conversation ,who can actually make people look down upon the entire community. And because we are talking about Candidate Experience, in a candidate driven market, whether it is an in house recruiting effort or an agency led one, what matters ultimately is the kind of experience the candidate gets. (For those who need a bit of clarification, agency recruiting is nothing but engaging a third party organization to recruit talents for the company rather than having or using a recruiter who is a full time employee of the organization.)

So how to ensure a great candidate experience while using an agency?

  • It starts from choosing the right agency. The recruitment agency should be a real partner to you. Give utmost care in choosing them like when you choose a link in your product supply chain because both are more or less the same, in fact this one is more important than the other because of what(whom) it supplies. The recruiting agency and its recruiter should be able to understand your organization and its culture and be brand ambassadors to the candidates. Of course, this cannot happen overnight and that’s why I mentioned that it should be a partnership which is nurtured over time. What needs to be ensured is that the agency has the potential to be one.
  • Talk to the recruiters and assess them. They should be able to answer the questions a candidate might ask. Like I mentioned in the earlier post, calling the candidate and just reading the job description will not add any value. You need to lure a candidate to apply for the position and in this case you are entrusting that on an outsider. Make sure they understand the job description and the expectations of the hiring manager thoroughly. In my days in the software industry, I used to receive calls where they would just call and ask if I have so and so skills and if I’m available in the market. Such impersonal conversations and no wonder I never went with any of them. The ultimate loss is for the employer and not for the agency if they miss out on a worthy candidate.
  • Keep a regular and open channel of communication between the agency, especially with the account manager who is in charge of your group and communicate to them what and what not you would like to communicate to the candidates. For example, it’s quite common for recruiters not to mention the client name during the initial conversations. There may be a very valid reason to it. But an average candidate might not be aware of it and sometimes it can be strange for them to take a decision on if they should go forward or not, without knowing the details of the organization. So decide on this aspect of confidentiality and make sure your recruiter follows the same. According to a survey by CareerBuilder and Inavero, 46% candidates reported that they felt like being in a “black hole” when working with a recruitment agency which is not a great trend.

To the recruitment agencies!

There is just one piece of advice that summarizes everything. ”Be Professional”.

That includes a lot of things from personalizing the conversations, even if it’s about leaving a voicemail to a potential candidate, having regular follow ups and many more things which you can read here in the first part of this post.

Having said all these, the fact is that a candidate who is in dire need of job would join the organization regardless of the candidate experience. There are still many job seekers who are not at a position to care about these things. S/he may join for now, but unless and until the experiences beyond are smooth, they may not be contributing at their fullest potential in the current positions and would be on a constant look out for better opportunities. It’s just that you have lost that bit of the initial engagement game.


The Ardent HR



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