Unsuccessful Applicants: Why HR SUCKS With Candidate Experience.

First I was horrified. Then I had to cringe with embarrassment. No wonder HR and recruiters get a bad wrap when it comes to recruitment.

In recently reading an article titled ‘How To Respond To Unsuccessful Applicants’, I discovered just why HR and recruiters get branded with disparaging labels that many HR thought leaders and industry innovators are desperately trying to override.

The article, published on Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) hrmonline publication, described the topic that came under discussion in AHRI’s LinkedIn group around notification protocols for candidates whose job applications had been rejected.

The group of respondents to the discussion were split on whether a response to candidates was warranted or not. The overall sentiment appeared to be negative towards developing a positive experience for candidates.

One HR Professional’s appalling attitude was that

“I’ve never seen it as HR’s job to make every applicant ‘feel good’ and give them encouragement. It’s a big world out there and in the job space it’s survival of the fittest. If you don’t have the goods, you won’t get a call, and you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.

This ‘grow a pair’ sentiment toward candidates clearly misses the understanding  that talent acquisition and the future work force is changing.  Holding on to an 80’s and 90’s style approach to candidate experience in the face of a looming skill shortage on a scale we have never seen before, will leave many employers and recruiters begging for forgiveness in the years to come as we will see the ivory tower approach to recruitment crumble.

The Shift In Power That’s Coming…

Dr John Sullivan, Silicon Valley talent thought leader and author, describes in his article The Top 10 Most Impactful Recruitment Trends of 2015, that the shift in power to the candidate means current approaches will stop working.  He also outlines that even the most competent professionals have weak resumes and the onus will be on the recruiter and talent acquisition professionals to look beyond that with a ‘find-their-work’ approach on the internet. 

It’s hard at times recruiting and having to deal with providing feedback or feeling the pressure of providing an acceptable enough explanation for not making the cut. It’s time consuming and you have hiring managers bearing down on you to fill their roles. I know. I’ve been there.

Yet if talent acquisition teams don’t address the reason it is hard to find good candidates in the first place, which is whether they will or won’t engage with you, it becomes a vicious cycle.

Personally, I know countless numbers of professionals who are classic profiles of passive candidates, who simply just will not apply to a recruitment agency ad, because of too many negative experiences.  If they experience the same reception from direct employers in-house recruitment, the result is a shrinking talent pool and a competitors advantage.

Further comments and ‘ideas’ in relationship to the chat forum included that perhaps only white collar or highly skilled candidates deserved the time for a more formal feedback on their interview performance.

What the? I am sorry but this superiorist (is that a word?) point of view that blue collar/ low skilled workers won’t seem to mind, or care that they are not responded to is not only short sighted, but just plain snobbery.

Solutions to this dichotomy offered by talent acquisition professionals in the discussion ranged from making a statement in the job ad or post that only shortlisted candidates will receive correspondence, to

Surely if the candidate doesn’t hear back after several weeks, they can deduce their application was rejected themselves’”.

I was horrified.

To be frank I was really surprised at the sheer sentiment of disdain towards candidates coming across from the HR / Talent Acquisition field on this issue in this online forum chat and article. 

The gaggle of HR respondents to this article, were slow on the up take of understanding basic recruitment marketing principles of taking the initiative to engage with their candidate or applicant base to determine what the right communication formula is for their unique candidate pool.

Valuing candidate feedback is clearly not on the agenda.  One contributor to the online forum felt “What’s the point, when you are never going to deal with them again”….

Freak me! EXACTLY ! You ARE never going deal with them again numbskull!!

Especially when they turn to employer review platforms such as Glassdoor and Jobvisor to give thousands of other potential candidates a reason not to deal with your company either.

Value Is In The Eye Of The Beholder…

Kudos goes to one respondent who rightly pointed out that

“given today’s technology, not responding at all is a poor excuse. is it really THAT hard? It does do the company image damage not to reply. Really, aren’t these job seekers our external clients”?

My sentiments exactly.

New recruitment marketing platform Workible works on the premise that an employers best employees can be sourced from their customer fan base. Customers who love a companies product or service can be the best champions and ideal candidates for that employer and culture.  Give them a bad experience as a candidate and with social media the ripple effect can be immeasurable. Candidates online communities are growing and gaining further reach, which should make this a growing concern for talent acquisition leaders.

Customers can become candidates, and candidates can become customers.

Best practice marketing departments don’t turn inward to their industry colleagues to determine the formula for customer experience. They turn to their customers. They ask their customers for feedback on how they want their service experience to be.

Yet the idea of doing this for candidates would seem preposterous to many talent acquisition laggards.

The Missing Link…

Above all, there was an over arching element missing in the discussion that was as plain as the nose on Pinocchio’s face. The general lack of incentive or understanding on how to use technology, and low cost resources available today, to develop candidate communication strategies in the same way marketing does with customers and clients. The ‘throw-the-hands-up-in-the-air’ and it’s ‘all too hard’ sentiment was much stronger than how do we find new, efficient, and innovative ways to solve this?

I get it. Technology has created a bigger headache for HR and talent acquisition professionals in being able to respond effectively to the sheer volume of applications. But technology can also solve it.

The shift in skills shortages on a bigger scale than now is coming and it’s huge. HR & talent acquisition attitudes need to change toward candidate experience. It’s not just about being ‘nice’ to candidates. It’s about protecting and advancing your brand and supporting better candidate quality.

HR need to understand marketing principles, and how to engage with and use technology available now,  to create an efficient candidate communication strategy that ultimately creates a positive ripple effect to ease talent sourcing challenges. 

Learn More…

FREE extensive 3 part video training series: How To Create An Irresistible Social Recruitment Branding Strategy. Gain expert insight on how to create social recruitment content and the principles of candidate engagement. Downloadable workbook!