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The most common candidate experience complaint

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If you’ve been reading my series of blogs on how to give your candidates the best possible experience of applying for jobs with your company, you’ll know I’ve put a lot of emphasis on the three Ps – politeness, process and professionalism.  Many, probably most, ad hoc recruiters believe they tick all these boxes. I think many don’t.

Technology has made our lives much easier. The ATS (Application Tracking System) removed the need to send all those letters on expensive paper (with increasingly expensive postage), telling people that their application has been received, that they have been invited to an interview/second interview, that they have been successful/rejected. Now, it’s can all be done at the touch of a button – if it’s done at all.  

Which brings me on to the biggest complaint candidates make of recruiters, namely, that they fail to communicate with them. A survey in the US suggested that 75% of candidates never hear back from a company after they have sent their application. This, in my view, is simply bad manners.  Companies spend a fortune on internal comms and demonstrating that they stand up for their brand values, but then ignore these same values when it comes to those who are seeking employment with them.

The big companies, the ones who can afford an ATS, generally have fairly sophisticated software and people get e-communications about their applications.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of recruitment is done by smaller companies which nowadays tend to have neither the secretarial resources nor the time to communicate with you. 

Admittedly, job-boards have made it easier for candidates to fire off multiple applications at the touch of a button. And at least in the old days, if you were applying for a job, the effort of doing so – photocopying, posting, etc. - was such that you only applied if you really wanted the job. Today, it’s arguably too easy and this can result in companies being inundated with useless applications.  But that doesn’t excuse a failure to reply.  

At least in the old days, almost everyone thought it essential to communicate, even if it was bad news that was being sent.  A friend who is (a lot) older than me, remembers when some big corporations, including, he thinks, the BBC, started to say in their adverts “if you don’t hear from us that means you have been unsuccessful.”  Now that advertising is online, most companies would not think of including such a line in an advert.  Many just assume that people will think that if they don’t hear from them that’s it.  Often, it is it…

Even worse, they sometimes communicate and then fail to follow it up, or worse, go back on their word. I know of an SME whose director asked their recruiter to call a girl at short notice and offer her an interview.  Unfortunately, the candidate couldn’t make the interview (it was the following day) but the recruiter told her not to worry as he’d get back to her with an alternative date.  The director saw the other candidates the next day, settled on one to whom he wanted to offer the job and told the recruiter to tell the one other candidate that she was no longer being offered an interview.  It transpired that the candidate who received this shabby treatment had previously worked with a competitor and she was, understandably, quick to put the word out on the grapevine.  

As I’ve indicated, what’s so stupid about this failure to communicate is that it’s actually so simple to sort. And, as my last example illustrates, it is something that can come back to bite you.  Consequently, my advice is simple: it goes back to something I wrote in an earlier blog in this series.  Treat all applicants the way you would want to be treated yourself.  Politeness, process and professionalism.  It’s not difficult.

Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment

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