Back in the day, the candidate experience wasn’t something that many employers were particularly bothered about. In fact, they would never have used the expression, because it wasn’t in vogue then. Candidates didn’t have “experiences” – they applied for jobs and were interviewed and then either accepted or rejected. You knew of companies by reputation and word of mouth but you couldn’t Google them. Nor could you go onto websites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn and find out what people who work for them actually think. Good recruitment agencies would have some knowledge, but they too were hamstrung by a lack of information, other than what their clients (i.e. the employers) were prepared to pass on to them.
For the baby boomer generation, the general consensus was that making candidates aware of a job vacancy, whether via a recruitment agency like Peace or by means of a recruitment advert (usually in a newspaper), was pretty much all that was needed. The expectation was that the candidates would jump through the hoops – filling out the application form, returning it by a closing date, turning up for the interview(s) - and then, once the wheat had been separated from the chaff, the lucky gent or lady would arrive for work on their first day, be allocated a desk, pens, paper and a phone and then expected to get on with it.
In return, the vast majority of recruiters in those days would communicate, by post, all the way through the process, from acknowledgement of the receipt of an application to invitations to interview(s) and then rejection letters and finally, for the successful applicant(s), an invitation to take up their new employment.
All this sounds like another world to millennials or the Gen Z cohorts, largely because for them it is. And leaving on one side the important fact that no-one should neglect the older generations (apart from anything else it’s illegal to do so!), the truth is that you are going to be recruiting more Gen Z’ers and millennials in the future, so you need to be in tune with their expectations.
In fact, “expectations” is possibly the wrong word: “demands” is probably more apposite. Compared to the history outlined above, today the boot is very much on the other foot. That said, despite all the advances of recent years, there are still too few genuinely great candidate experiences. If you don’t offer a good candidate experience then you are in danger of missing out on many talented younger people. These days, it is so easy for anyone with access to a computer (i.e. everyone) to find out all the good things about your company - but also all those things that you’d prefer remained hidden. Not only that, but how you treat candidates and, especially, how easy you make it for them to communicate and engage with you, is crucial to the success or failure of your recruitment. And in my next blog, I’ll start to explain just how you go about making this candidate experience everything it should be.
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment