NEWS + ADVICE
From Rants to Raves: Changing the Conversation
If you’ve taken a peek at Twitter or the headlines about recruiting experiences, you’re well aware of the animosity that exists between many recruiters and job seekers. You’ve seen the rants. People on both sides of the recruiting process are unhappy about something or other. Job seekers lie about their experience and spam your inbox. Recruiters don’t follow up and ghost applicants all together. Mistakes have been made by individuals in both parties, leaving a bad taste in many a mouth. But all is not lost. We have a palate cleanser of great recruiters and job seekers working to improve the process and build successful relationships.
While we’d all love to change how others interact with us, we can only control our own behavior when all is said and done. Like many parents have instructed their children, treat others as you would like to be treated. Fortunately, an emphasis on the candidate experience has given us ways to do this in recruiting. If you’re looking for ways to improve your relationships with candidates or you want to make sure you’re not one of those recruiters who job seekers rant about, consider these tips.
Do Your Homework
Job seekers have shared frustrations about recruiters that don’t understand the role they’re recruiting for. While you won’t always be a subject matter expert on every type of position you recruit for, can you tell a prospective candidate about the responsibilities of the job and the skills that are required? These may be outlined in the posted job description, but you should be familiar enough with the position that you can touch on these points comfortably nonetheless. Understanding what the job entails will not only help you sell it to potential leads, but it will also help you decipher who makes a good fit. If you can’t carry on about industry lingo, think of other ways you can provide value to the prospect. Can you share some insights about the company’s culture?
Some job seekers have become quite guarded with their time, as they’ve had recruiters hang-up, keep them on the phone too long, or begin a cold call without asking if it’s a good time to talk. You have deadlines and the time to fill is closing in, but being courteous of your prospect’s time will be appreciated, as we all have busy schedules. Candidates are people, and as such, there’s not always a one-size-fits-all method to connect with them.
The path to connecting is typically more straightforward when a job seeker submits an application—they’re ready and waiting for your call. But many professionals are only looking for a job passively. While you may send out countless communications to see what sticks, be wary of spamming candidates that are overqualified or who live in another state and have stated they don’t want to relocate. Many recruiters see a shocking number of job seekers that don’t respond to inquiries. It may be a knee jerk reaction to moan about job seekers for their lack of response, but be mindful that your position might not be the right fit for them.
One of the best things you can strive to do as a recruiter is to set expectations for your candidates. This means proactively sharing information about the steps candidates will encounter in your hiring process and when they can expect a follow-up. In a job search survey conducted by CyberSecJobs.com, 66% of respondents said employers could make it easier to recruit professionals by making the recruiting process more transparent.1 So clearly communicate your hiring process on your company website and in your conversations with candidates, to improve the overall candidate experience.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
As a recruiter, you’re assessing if a candidate will be a good fit, but job seekers are also gathering information to make an informed decision about your company. Are you available to answer their questions and concerns? It’s easy to assign low priority to sending a response when you have a slew of other responsibilities, but you must be responsive if you want your candidate to remain engaged and feel positive about your company. If you’ve been on the other side of the table, you know how it feels to be left waiting in suspense. It’s stops being exciting and eventually turns into frustration.
While you don’t need to touch base with a candidate on a daily basis, do communicate within a timely manner. If you told a prospect you would touch base in one week, make the call even if you don’t have a new update to share yet. This will help build the relationship and make the candidate feel like they haven’t been forgotten. You wouldn’t want a candidate to cancel a pre-arranged call with you, so be sure to follow through on the expectations you’ve set.
Many of us like to check things off the list and continue on to the next to do without looking back. But it will benefit your candidate experience and support the longevity of your company’s ability to hire if you pause to give feedback. Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Research Report found, “candidates who were interviewed and then given job-related feedback by end of that same day said they were 52% more likely to increase their relationship with the employer.”2 These candidates were more likely to apply again and also refer others. “Whereas, if feedback was not given, they’re more than twice as likely to sever the relationship.”2
Many job seekers don’t have all the answers when it comes to job search and they can greatly benefit from your expertise. When you share meaningful information and give candidates feedback, you not only help that candidate but also the reputation of your company and other recruiters. You can’t extend an offer to every candidate but you can try to make the process a valuable and positive experience.
Another thing that we as a community of recruiters can improve on is offering closure. Some job seekers send in an application, have an initial phone screening, or even get through to the interview stage only to be left hanging with no definitive answer. Nobody likes to be told no, but it’s worse in many cases to be left not knowing. So whatever you do, please do not ghost your candidates. At the bare minimum, send an automated message that they are no longer being considered.
However, if you want to ensure the best odds that your rejected candidate will apply again in the future or refer others, pick up the phone and give them a call. “Positive candidate ratings jump upwards of 28 percent when they receive a phone call versus the automated email rejection, a big difference that can go a long way.”2
It’s All About the Relationship
At the end of the day, people hire people and relationship building remains the foundation of recruiting and job search. In a perfect world, we should always have an interactional relationship between job seekers and recruiters, not merely transactional. When we equate our candidates to a piece of paper in a pile of resumes and treat them poorly, we all lose—and eventually someone tweets about it. “Up to 80+ percent of candidates will share their positive experiences and over 60 percent will share their negative experiences.” 2 Strive to be the recruiter that candidates rave about instead of rant. If we all raise the bar, we stand to build a more mutually beneficial rapport.