The candidate – it’s time to listen

The candidate – it’s time to listen

Over the past few years, the majority of my clients — and the consultants that work in their companies —have been frustrated by the lack of quality applications for their roles. There are a lot of applicants out there, but what percentage are actually turning into ‘viable’ candidates?

Just to clarify the terms, an individual is termed an applicant at the beginning of the process, until they are screened and then they become a candidate. A couple of years ago I wrote a piece on the candidate experience that relates to the applicant becoming a candidate.

The job of the consultant is to then create 3 job opportunities for the candidate that gives them choice and creates a relationship and partnership between them (but that’s another blog post – are you getting your offers of employment turned down?). Companies may have over 100 applicants for a role that they’ve advertised, but may only get 5-10% of those that actually become candidates. This could be due to the fact that the advert was too vague and therefore many applicants might have thought themselves suitable, only to find out that they’re rejected because they didn’t have an essential element, experience or qualification.

So here’s my first bugbear… why do you want to fill your database with unsuitable applications?

The usual reply that I get is that companies feel it’s beneficial to be able to boast a database of 25,000 candidates, but these aren’t candidates, you haven’t interviewed and screened all 25,000. They’re applicants that you can find on any job board when you need them anyway, and they’ll potentially be more up to date!

I’m of the opposite viewpoint. Keep your database full of suitable, available, high quality candidates and you’ll be able to fill any position that comes in quickly, because you know their wants and needs in detail and just as important – you’ll be able to get hold of them when you need to!

Sometimes our frustration with candidates can boil over onto social media. We all get frustrated with candidates and they, quite rightly, get frustrated with us too, but it’s never a good idea to put it out there for everyone else to see. Here are 10 points to ask yourself when a candidate puts you into a difficult position.

  1. Did you do everything in your power to explain the recruitment process, the pitfalls and the etiquette as to how it all works?
  2. Did you sell yourself and your company to explain why they need only deal with yourself to find their ideal role?
  3. Did you summarise their wants and needs back to them so that they felt 100% confident that you were going to get them the right job?
  4. Did you keep in regular contact?
  5. Did you gain commitment from that candidate?
  6. Did you ask for commitment from them?
  7. Did you give them a full and detailed briefing for the interview that can last from 15 minutes to 2 hours dependent on the position and relationship you have with the client?
  8. Did you act in their best interests at all times?
  9. Did you negotiate on their behalf, whether that was interview time slots or salary package etc.?
  10. Did you get feedback on how you were doing and their perception of your service before, during and after the process had concluded, to be able to enhance what you do?

That last part is so important to improving what you do as a consultant and a company. There are now a few companies that are dedicating themselves to the candidate and helping our industry to achieve a better relationship with our candidates.

Jon Stanners of Alpha, a Moonshot Facility (a Telefonica Company), wrote recently: –

“…providing candidate feedback is a behaviour change – technology or no technology – we as an industry need to start behaving in the way the market (talent) are wanting us to behave – that for me is a Brand play, it’s a strategic shift i.e. – what do you want to be famous for?  “Exceptional Candidate Experience” – is not something we hear all that often…”

One of the companies that I think will make a huge difference to how candidates experience the recruitment industry is Recruiter Insider, who I am supporting all the way. It’s important that we listen to the feedback the candidates give. Justin Hillier, Founder/MD shared this with me…

“The candidate experience is the single most important element that makes up the recruitment process. Consultants are not just representing themselves, they are representing their company’s brand. A poor experience will typically be associated with the brand of the company, hurting you in more ways than one; a positive experience will be remembered for the recruiter involved as well as the brand behind them. Candidates are the most prized asset of any recruitment firm, why would you want to provide anything less than an amazing experience every time.”

I couldn’t agree more Justin and Jon, so let’s all work together to provide an Exceptional Candidate Experience… then listen and act on the feedback!

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Angela Cripps

Angela Cripps has worked within the recruitment industry for over 25 years and runs Connemara UK Ltd. Her career started as a recruitment consultant, where she recruited both temporary and permanent staff for Blue Arrow in Catering, Industrial, Healthcare and Commercial sectors. She is now an Executive Coach, Mentor, NED and Trainer for the recruitment industry.

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