There is something wrong with recruitment

Last year, I got involved with the CIPD Hackathon. It lead to the development of a Hack called ‘chuck out your chintz’ which suggested that HR teams should reflect on some of the non value add activities they were doing, or even think about stopping them altogether.

The Hack had in mind administrative, shared service, policy type stuff when it was first conceived. But recently, I was asked if I could do a talk about whether the hack could be applied to recruitment. To be honest, I just wasn’t sure. There is plenty of process in recruitment, but was it chintz or was it necessary, useful process? So I sent a tweet. This one.

And my timeline filled up. I was interested in thoughts from anyone. Recruiters and candidates alike. But it wasn’t the process type stuff that people focused on. It was the human stuff. Or the lack of it.

A selection of the replies I received are below.

And this evocative one from Doug Shaw.

The sad thing? I wasn’t surprised by any of this. Because we know it. We know that feedback is so important to candidates. We know that everyone hates automated responses and the application black hole. We know it is appalling to waste candidates time.

When it comes to recruitment, there are plenty of conversations. Conferences. Books, blogs, specialists. Seminars, webinars, twitter chats. But are things changing, enough? Are things really good enough?

I know there are good people and good companies doing good stuff in recruitment. But everything I hear suggests that there are still many, many companies getting it so wrong. And many, many fed up and demoralised candidates. I was one myself, not so long ago.

I’m not pretending I have the answer to this problem. But I am interested in what you think. Because it doesn’t feel like it should be that difficult….. but for some reason we are making it so.

12 thoughts on “There is something wrong with recruitment

    • It is very frequent though. The number of times I see a ‘if you haven’t heard from us in 14 days’ quote on the bottom of job adverts. Even an automated email is better than nothing at all, and takes only seconds to send.

    • Great piece. I tend to opt for your second option when it comes to negative feedback, if I am honest.
      I also care, and want to see it done better both at my place and generally. Bad recruitment gives the HR profession a bad name. And I agree with the point about HR playing a massive part when it comes to external recruiters. We are so used to this ‘free’ contingency model it drives crap behaviour. We can test the market, put it out to multiple suppliers so they all trip over the same people etc. And in turn drives bad recruiter behaviour, and so on and so on.

  1. It’s abuse of power, plain and simple. Why do companies do it? Because for all the noise that we make about the importance of the candidate experience and employee brand – at the moment – people need jobs. So we can afford rubbish candidate experience because people are still going to apply anyway… The cost of not getting it right is minimal. The money is in selling product and serving customers (quite a few companies don’t get that right) so there is, sadly. no shock in the fact that a noncustomer facing process gets even less attention. Feeling grumpy now – loved Mitch’s piece above, I hope people click through,

  2. Hi Gemma,

    Great honest blog. Apologies in advance for my lenghty response!

    I have found the recruitment process indifferent. Like you say, many get it right but there are those out there that get it so wrong. For instance, I had a telephone interview with a company in London just before Christmas. The conversation went very well and they offered me a second interview, even stating my CV stood out by far. At this point no salary had been discussed. So, I emailed them and asked what the salary was – turned out a lot less than my current one based in East Yorkshire. So I politely turned it down. They then came back with a much increased offer that encompassed a dual role if I would go down for the interview, so I accepted. The interview went really well and after waiting a week to hear back I eventually emailed them. The hiring manager said he had no criticism other than my experience did not match their industry. Surely this is highlighted on my CV and all of this time, effort and money would have not been wasted if this was stated form the start!

    So, £200+ out of pocket I went for my second stage interview at a local comapany (having had a 10 minute chat initially the day they broke up for christmas). I turned up to their offices only for the MD to come down and tell me they ‘didnt have time today, can we re-arrange?’. At this point I had already made my mind up that he wasn’t interested having spent some of my Christmas break preparing an analysis and then treating me this way was hugely unprofessional. Again, I had to ask for feedback and his response was that I hadn’t shown enough willing. Now, I can hold my hands up when I have done wrong, but a 10 minute chat with people interupting (‘are we leaving for Christmas yet boss?’), how much can you really show in that time of unorganised mess?

    So my thoughts are this; some recruiters/employers couldn’t care less about the effort candidates put in. I find it totally disgraceful. I’m not a chicken in a chicken factory. Thankfully, I have come across other companies and agencies that treat people like people and in the end they are the people you want to spend your working days with. More importantly, if a candidate has spent time effort and money attending an interview of applying for a role, the least you can do is respond proactively and give them the reasons as to why.

    • A truly dreadful experience. To let a candidate turn up and then turn them away is terrible, but probably tells you something about their culture as a business.

  3. I think it is worth splitting responses/acknowledgements from feedback.

    Being unresponsive is unforgiveable. The response doesn’t have to be hand delivered atop a plumped red velvet cushion by four smartly dressed coachmen, but a response at whatever stage you succeed and/or drop out should be stage one basics.

    Feedback – in a recruitment process I’m less fussed about that. In most cases I reckon feedback is light on truth and anything you can helpfully act on, heavy on ‘close – but no cigar’. For me, if feedback isn’t offered, then rarely is it worth chasing after.

    • Like the idea of your response being delivered in such a way….
      I agree with you on feedback. Often there is little between candidates. However I always try and be very honest with people if they haven’t done a good interview or dropped any real clangers – otherwise I guess they will keep making them.

      • 🙂 I agree with you that feedback can be very useful indeed. More often than not – people chase after it rather than receive it proactively, and what they get is usually a pretty thin soup. Clanger alerts and the like are hugely helpful and very rare. I see now I’ve inadvertently put soup and clangers close together….

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