How should recruiters be connecting with candidates in the hectic world of online recruitment?

Written by
Changeboard Team

22 Feb 2010

22 Feb 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Applications lost in a black hole?

Increasingly, candidates applying for jobs through job-boards, or social networking sites such as LinkedIn are unlikely to receive so much as an acknowledgement from a potential employer of their application.

The recruitment industry has a reputation for being ruthless and cut-throat, but in the modern world of countless communication channels, should the recruiter or employer really be expected to engage with every single person who applies for a job? 

The internet has made recruitment global

If we consider the average company receives about 200 CVs per week, in addition to countless messages from job seekers through other channels such as LinkedIn, and more increasingly Twitter, we can start to realise the scale of the problem.

We no longer live in a ‘local’ market, where vacancies are applied for by a handful of candidates. The internet has made everything global and much more accessible. With this in mind, is it really HR’s job to handhold every applicant and make sure their feelings are intact through every application? It seems the decision has already been made – there are simply not enough hours in the day.

However, the situation is not as black and white as it first may seem – there are other influencing factors that stretch beyond the walls of the HR office.

Remember - candidates could become future clients

Online recruitment has multiple associations for external recruiters and direct employers. The recruiter, whether in-house or agency based, will usually view the short-term impact of an application. However, businesses need to remember that a candidate is often a customer or has the potential to be, and that the HR department plays a significant role in brand perception and brand marketing.

Simon Thomas, an employer branding expert:

“Organisations need to understand that the candidate and applicant journey is a crucial part of the employer brand, its employer reputation and potentially its corporate reputation too.

“An employer brand is the promise the employer makes to candidates and employees; employer reputation is how well they're delivering on those promises in the eyes of each of the stakeholder groups. It should be the recruiter’s responsibility to act as ambassadors for their client to protect and enhance that reputation and by doing so, improve their own reputation."

Cultivate an employer brand online

The recruitment landscape continues to evolve and technology now assumes a much bigger role in the recruitment function. While time often frustrates the ability to interact in a bespoke and value added manner with a candidate, there are basic things technology can assist with, such as issuing an automated response.

While frowned upon by many, this type of reply can buy an employer time and acknowledges that an application has been received. Once the position has been filled, a further notification email can be sent to all unsuccessful applicants. There is questionable benefit in relation to how this ‘values’ a candidate and many businesses choose not to implement such practices for that reason alone.

However, most would agree that it is better than silence. Whatever the company policy, candidates should be made aware of the procedures that are in place so that expectations are set, and applicants know what level of response they are likely to receive.

Recruiters - be honest with candidates

Transparency is valued highly by candidates. Recruiters should be honest about who is handling the recruitment and how long the process will take. Other methods, such as the improved use of social media, can help keep the masses up-to-date during the process too, for example through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook updates.

Some employers have even tried to bring recruitment campaigns to life through encouraging personal video applications and offering regular live q&a sessions. While these are perhaps extreme examples, simple tools can be deployed to help engage with the candidate and make them feel valued, without the added timely cost of a tailored, individual email response.

Get personal with your candidates

As I have already touched upon, technology lends convenience to the recruitment function, although it does not replace the value to be added through personal relationships, if the resource is available. Those recruiters who seek to differentiate themselves by concentrating on enhancing the candidate experience through personalisation will achieve positive, sustainable Results.

It's clear that some employers and recruitment agencies aren’t even embracing the basics, given the technology available. It's worth reiterating that recruitment is not just about the process, it's about relationships. Technology has a part to play but it is down to the recruiter to contribute the personal interaction element.

Poor candidate experience will be remembered

Unsuccessful candidates will remember their experience during the recruitment process. An ill-mannered process can lead to the loss of a potential customer or a potential future employee. Think of all the investment in marketing and communications that can go to waste if an applicant’s first experience with an organisation is very disappointing.

As talent continues to be a scarce commodity, agency and corporate recruiters should be prepared for the backlash from individuals who will remember the manner in which they have been ‘processed’.

Invest in online recruitment now

Technology, and the processes brought about by the internet, have ultimately made many recruiters lazy and this has devalued the recruitment function.

Let the recruiter beware, the market will change. The boot will soon be on the other foot as organisations strive to rebuild and strengthen their workforce in the fight for scarce talent. This cost of setting up even the most basic of automated replies will then seem very low indeed.