Recruiters:The overlooked link in Candidate Experience

This is the age of Candidate Experience.Like Employee Engagement, Candidate Experience has become the buzzword in the field. Organizations have understood the importance of this in attracting current and future candidates and are spending money and efforts towards making it innovative and class apart. Companies are striving hard to put the best end to end processes in place, have cutting edge technology platforms for application and applicant tracking, have the most attractive and interactive career sites etc.(yeah, I’m talking about those ones with pictures of “employees” with wide grins ,jumping with joy or blissfully working together or “contributing” in a presentation etc etc. Honestly, I have neither seen such an employee in my life nor have been one so far. Even worse, I have not seen such ‘aww” inspiring workplaces and these pictures fail to make me believe what they are trying to convey. How about you?).

Despite all these efforts, I doubt if organizations are achieving their goal. Look at these 2017 figures from CareerBuilder. While 86%of the job seekers believe that employers should treat candidates with the same respect as current employees, only 49% experience the same. Here is another very common statistics from CareerArc 2016 study. Almost 60% of candidates have had a poor candidate experience with 72% of those candidates sharing that experience online or with someone. Ahh! What could be worse for an employer than that when Glassdoor says that an average candidate reads 7 reviews before applying for a company. So where lies the problem? While there might not be a single answer to it, one thing that’s being largely overlooked today is the human factor, especially the first human touch point in the process-the Recruiters.

The role of recruiters in ensuring a holistic Candidate Experience is so vital. Even if you provide the smoothest technology experience through career site or application system, it’s the first time a real human being, who is a representation of the organization, is interacting with the candidate and that would form the very first psychological impression of the organization.80% of candidates say that they would take one job over another based on personal relationships formed during the interview process (Source: Devskiller 2017) and 39% of job seekers said the initial contact makes the biggest impression about the job.( this didn’t come as a surprise to me. As a candidate, I wouldn’t make a job decision just because a company had a wonderful technology platform, steering the process. Definitely, it can make the process easy and smooth. But from a candidate perspective, most of it is till the application is submitted. After that starts the “real” thing and the most of the further steps happen through human interactions. And in today’s world, having a great career site, application platforms and mobile apps has become a basic expectation.

So how can recruiters make a difference in the process?

    • Recruiter should be a true reflection of the organizational culture. If the recruiter treats the candidate without respect and empathy, it conveys the impression that that’s how the company would treat its employees. As it’s said,’Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing’.
    •  After spending 3-4 hours researching and applying for the company, what the candidate would be expecting is not an email or call, reading out the job description or asking for availability for interview. Give more information about the organization and the role in hand. Make the role and organization look desirable. In simple words, sell them. Just repeating whatever there is on career site or job ad will not add any value. You should try to get more information about the candidate than there is on the resume/application and the candidate should have more information about the position and organization and may be more reasons to continue with the application or reject it then and there.
    • Let the candidate know the reason or factor that led the recruiter contact him/her; some specific skillset or experience or any certification or whatsoever that may make him/her a good fit for the role.
    • Never keep the candidate hanging in the middle of nowhere. If after the first conversation, you think that the candidate would not be a good fit, just be transparent and let them know. Don’t set false expectations and make the candidate wait. Even candidates know that not every job is for them. Let them know the reason and convey it professionally.
    • Let the candidate know the timelines of communication and make it a practice to follow that almost religiously whenever possible. Even if you don’t have a specific answer to the candidate, you can let them know that status so that they know that you and the organization are working on his/her profile and that his/her time is respected. We all know that job hunting is an anxious process and many candidates would be in dilemma whether and when to follow up with the recruiter. So an email from the recruiter will really put them at ease and enhance the confidence in the organization.
    • If the candidate is selected for further steps in the process, try your best to prep him/her with all the information needed. Check this amazing post to see how a Google recruiter did this and I assure you that you will be astonished. Well, I was! Now you can just say, it’s Google. Yeah! So what? Why can’t you?
    • Now coming to one very important factor, the rejection letter. This is really important not just for the current scenario but also to maintain a foresighted relationship with the candidate. Here also, the best thing to do is to be as transparent as you can. Tell the truth. Provide feedback on what could be improved and end it on a positive note and in such a way that it’s not the end of the relationship.
      Please DON’T send one of those clichéd templated emails, especially to those candidates who went through a couple of steps further in the process. It’s really insulting. Make it a bit personal,whenever possible.
    • Now again, the timelines. Whether it is a positive one or negative one, send the communications without much delay. Even if you are extending an offer, if it’s done after a delay, the candidate would have lost some interest by then and even if he/she accepts the offer, can result in some loss of engagement or rather the experience. Communicate to the candidate in such a way that s/he doesn’t have to follow
      up with you multiple times.

If the initial calls are just to get some required information and time slots for interview and if a templated email is sent for rejection, we can very well use technology for those. Where is your value add in those as a recruiter? It’s all about doing those routine things in a more personalized way and adding your flavor into it. You need to remember and believe that technology is not yet smart enough to replace you and what you bring to the table, as a match maker for your organization and its future employees.


The Ardent HR

In the next part of this blog, let’s talk about another interesting shade of recruiting, the agency recruiting and what it does to Candidate Experience.Check it out here.

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