Sunday, 27 January 2013

Recruitment: Time to introduce some standards

A couple of days ago I participated in an online debate addressing some of the issues faced by the recruitment profession. Most of those taking part in the debate were either independent consultants, or involved in recruitment agencies, so some of the comments which follow may not apply equally to in-house recruiters.

To say that the debate raised some worrying questions is something of an understatement.

Here's why:

Much of the discussion was centred around "the myth of candidate experience" and in particular whether it was necessary to treat all job applicants with the same degree of respect, including the simple courtesy of acknowledging every job application.

At least one participant in the debate was happy to divide applicants into "good" and "bad" candidates: a "good" candidate being (and I quote) "a credible applicant who will make you money."

Put simply, good candidates were deemed worthy of attention, bad candidates could be ignored.

The same participant was (one hopes) frivolous enough to suggest that (and again I quote) "Dear John, I've checked out your LinkedIn waffle and Facebook pics and, sorry to say, you're not right for the position" would be a suitable response to one of those unfortunate enough to meet his "good candidate" selection criteria.

My view (along with a number of other participants in this debate) is that all candidates for a job (whether for an assignment managed by a recruitment consultant, or an in-house campaign) deserve to be treated with a similar degree of courtesy and respect, especially that of keeping them updated as to their status within the recruitment process. The evolution of applicant tracking systems means that there is no excuse for failing to maintain contact with every candidate for every position.

Fast forward to summer of 2013

Black ties and evening dresses will once more be donned by those attending the CIPD Recruitment Marketing Awards. Prizes will be awarded for Best Art Direction, Campaign of the Year, Best Employer Brand, Recruitment Effectiveness, and a number of other categories.

I have a suggestion. Actually it's a challenge, because this is surely one area where the CIPD (celebrating its centenary this year) could be seen to influence the direction in which the recruitment profession is moving.

How about introducing an entrance requirement for those campaigns being nominated for awards of the ability to demonstrate adherence to a number of minimum standards of candidate care throughout those campaigns?

There is, after all, no cause for celebrating innovation in recruitment advertising, if the candidates who were drawn to it were not treated with the same respect regardless of whether they were appointed or rejected.


  1. Some interesting points! In an ideal world, yes, every candidate would be treated with the same level of respect.

    However, there are several points not considered here.

    1. Not every candidate is 100% interested / qualified / skilled / experienced to do the job.

    The online application process makes it incredibly easy to fire off a CV and genric covering letter. Some people apply because they are frustrated with their current employer, some from sheer curiosity, some because they can play the game (using prospective job offers to gain a pay increase), or for some (sadly) from sheer desperation to find employment.

    2. Time: Quite simply, employers or agencies do not have the time / resources - as much as they want to treat every candidate with respect - to respond with bespoke feedback, to every candidate explaining why their application wasn't successful.

    Is it feasible for a business to "waste" time responding to these individuals. Or is it simply more common sense to focus on the individuals who are clearly competent to fulfill the role?

    Should the "candidate experience" be positive for those who are not even serious about getting the job?

  2. Anonymous: Thanks for the input!

    Just a couple of responses to the valid points that you've made:

    Don't forget that the online application process is still within the domain of the recruiter, and with the evolution of sophisticated applicant tracking systems, it is very easy to use (for example) Killer Questions in the application process that don't even allow unsuitable candidates to get to the starting line.

    If there are far to many unsuitable candidates for a particular position, the blame can't all be placed at the door of the candidate!

    Incidentally, I'm not suggesting that all candidates should be given detailed feedback as to why their application was unsuccessful, but I don't find the "Thank you for your application: if you have heard nothing within 14 days, this will mean that your application has been unsuccesful" auto-acknowledgement as sufficient, given the technology that is currently available.

  3. Yes ! However, I use "Killer Questions" and candidates still apply as they simply answer YES to every question !

    Given the current technology - which you refer to - how should we recruiters respond ?

  4. we find it relatively easy to be honest in the auto response..

    along the lines of ....

    "we need great people with relevant industry and skillsto help us out in this role. As you can imagine in the world of social media technology, we receive a huge response from many qusality people. Its sadly not possible to individually get back to you all, even though we wish we could, but please believe us when we say we appreciate the time and effort made to apply. we will however, be in touch with people that most closely fit the needs detailed in the job ad. We will keep some of you on our radar too in the event of a future opportunity (if you agree). Thanks once more for your interest"