Volume and candidate experience don’t always make good bedfellows…

I have to say I don’t totally agree with Tom’s latest blog. I am not sure that making it easier for candidates to apply for jobs is always a good thing. Like all ideas, you have to be wary of the initial attraction of what looks like a “silver bullet” solution.

My argument goes something like this. One of the big challenges of recruitment is the polar opposite realities of candidates and recruiters. Candidates invariably want a 1-2-1 relationship with the recruiter – ie see me and treat me as an individual and deliver a very personal experience. The reality for a recruiter is a 1-2-many relationship with candidates – ie somehow I have to narrow a huge number of applicants into a manageable shortlist.

Much of the bad press recruiters get (be they in-house or agency) is that they aren’t good at recognising and being truthful about this dichotomy of needs. Lesley’s recent blog on this subject brought the problem into sharp relief. Candidates feel let down and, rightly, angry when their CV’s drop down “black holes”. It shouldn’t happen but it does. According to some research, over 70% of online applicants never hear anything.

In some cases that will be down to pure process failure, or laziness. However I can’t help but think volume has a lot to do with it too. My fear is that by making applications easier – ie just clicking a button – you increase the volume of applications even more and potentially make the candidate experience worse in the process. And with no guarantee that the percentage of quality applications will be any higher.

I have always believed that as a recruiter a key part of your job is to stop people applying for jobs that they have no prospect of getting. It saves you work and does the candidate a big favour. Rather than raise their hopes artificially you send them away to focus on opportunities that offer a better chance of success. As my outplacement colleagues always tell me: it isn’t about how many applications you make it is about making the right applications.

Ah but, I hear the agency recruiters say… We want as many people registered on our database as possible. So we don’t care if candidates aren’t right for the job they’ve applied for. We may make a fee on them somewhere else.

Commercially I am fine with that – in theory at least. As long as in practice the agencies have the systems and processes in place that mean those “no chance” candidates still get a great experience. And my bet is that in too many cases they don’t. If they did the internet would be awash with people saying how great recruitment agencies are. I don’t remember seeing too many of those lately…

As often in life, balance is the key. If job postings really help people assess their own suitability that’s a first tick in the box. If ATS systems ask a few critical closed questions that help candidates realise they are not suitable for this particular job that’s even better.

If, despite all that, a candidate goes ahead and applies then yes the process should be simple – from any device. Equally though, the candidate experience should be good – whether an agency can help you immediately, or not.

So my gauntlet to Tom has been this: create a candidate experience that’s better than any other specialist HR provider. Its work in progress but I am certain he’ll succeed.

One way we’ll do that is through our new candidate experience product: CareerGift. It won’t replace 1-2-1 help but will, we think, send many candidates away with the resources to be a better applicant next time around. Watch out for more news on this in the weeks ahead.

Ian Gooden
Chief Executive

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