Recruiters Beware: Treat Candidates Better or Risk Steering Them Away as Future Employees and Customers

A new survey just released by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry shows how critical it is for organizations to place a strong emphasis on the candidate experience during the recruiting process. Here’s why.

November 8, 2017 – Three quarters of those surveyed recently said it is unlikely they would accept a job offer if they were treated poorly during the recruiting experience, even if they felt the role was a good fit, according to a new report by Korn Ferry.

But look at this: more than half (56 percent) said it is unlikely that they would remain a customer of a company if they had a bad experience as a candidate, and more than a third (34 percent) said they would also be likely to urge their friends and family members to stop being a customer.

When considering applying to a company, 98 percent of the respondents said they consult social media sites to see what others say about the hiring experience as well as working at the organization.

“Companies risk alienating not only strong candidates, but loyal customers if they don’t make a concerted effort to create an efficient, welcoming and informative environment during the hiring process,” said Adam Blumberg, Korn Ferry Futurestep vice president, key accounts. “This equates to significant costs, both in terms of the time and money wasted during the hiring process, as well as loss of revenue from fleeing customers.”

When asked what would aggravate them most during the recruiting process, the majority (53 percent) cited not hearing back from the recruiter or hiring manager.

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Do Your Homework

“There is absolutely no excuse for recruiters and hiring managers to not respond to candidates, even if that communication is electronic such as email or text,” said Mr. Blumberg. “New technology and AI tools are automating many of the traditionally manual recruiting tasks, freeing up time for recruiters to provide stronger candidate care and strategic counsel to their clients.”

According to the survey, respondents believed there is a real need for recruiters and hiring managers to do their homework about the company for which they are recruiting. Nearly half (47 percent) did not believe recruiters paint a clear, accurate picture of the company and of the role for which they are being considered, and more than a third (36 percent) did not believe the recruiters give them the tools and tips they needed to land a job.

“The best recruiters and talent acquisition professionals take the time to understand the strategic objectives of both the company and the role for which they are recruiting, and communicate to the candidate how they will fit into the organization if hired,” said Neil Griffiths, Korn Ferry Futurestep’s global brand, marketing & communications leader.

A key tactic to help bring the employer brand to life is to use digital channels. Survey respondents said that beyond recruitment process details, the elements that matter most to them on a career website are information about the company’s culture and its philanthropic efforts.

“An employer branding strategy is a key way to engage with candidates,” said Mr. Griffiths. “Recruiters and hiring managers should take a look at the company culture and make sure the go-to-market strategy is authentic to the brand. In the recruiting world, we don’t want surprises that can lead to attrition, such as candidates expecting one thing when hired and finding an entirely different situation when they start their job.”

A Closer Look at the Findings

If you had a bad experience as a candidate applying/interviewing for a job, how likely would you be to remain a customer of that company?
Not at all likely 26 percent
Somewhat unlikely 30 percent
Wouldn’t make a difference 44 percent
If you had a bad experience as a candidate applying/interviewing for a job, how likely are you to urge your friends/family to stop being a customer of the company?
Very likely   9 percent
Somewhat likely 25 percent
Somewhat unlikely 23 percent
Very unlikely 44 percent
How likely would you be to accept a job offer from a company if you thought the position was a good fit but you were treated poorly during the interview process?
Not at all likely 26 percent
Somewhat unlikely 49 percent
Wouldn’t make a difference 25 percent
When applying for/interviewing for a job, how often do you research online sites that give feedback on working for the company?
All of the time 64 percent
Some of the time 34 percent
Never   2 percent
What would aggravate you most during a job application/interview process?
Not hearing back from the recruiter/hiring manager 53 percent
People being rude during an interview   8 percent
Not enough information about what the role would entail 12 percent
Getting different information about the role form the people with whom I interview 14 percent
Lack of transparency on salary   3 percent
Poor visibility on the different stages of the process 10 percent
Aside from a listing of available jobs, what is the most compelling part of a Careers website?
CEO Video 14 percent
Company Background 5 percent
Benefits 10 percent
Company Culture 20 percent
Philanthropic initiatives 24 Percent
Recruitment process details 27 percent
To what extent would you agree with the following statement: “Recruiters with whom I have worked paint a clear, accurate picture of the company and of the role for which I am being considered.”
Agree strongly 13 percent
Agree somewhat 20 percent
Disagree somewhat 20 percent
Disagree strongly 27 percent
Neither 20 percent
Recruiters with whom I have worked have offered me the tools and tips I need to help me land the job
Agree strongly 15 percent
Agree somewhat 24 percent
Neither agree or disagree 17 percent
Disagree somewhat 20 percent
Strongly disagree 16 percent

Frustrated Candidates

Being poorly treated during the recruitment process is not the only thing upsetting job seekers. Eighty two percent of potential employees are often frustrated with an overly automated job search experience, according to a new study by Randstad US. Ninety five percent of those surveyed agreed that technology should contribute to the recruitment experience but not replace it. Eighty seven percent of respondents, meanwhile, agreed that technology has made the process more impersonal.

“The findings reinforce what we’ve believed for quite some time, that successful talent acquisition lies at the intersection between technology and human touch,” said Linda Galipeau, CEO Randstad North America. “By leveraging emerging technologies, we are able to deliver on our clients’ and candidates’ expectations in a predominately digital world, but with more freedom to focus on the human connection. If done correctly, the right combination of personal interaction with the power of today’s intelligent machines can create an experience that is inherently more human.”

10 Ways Business Leaders Can Improve Their Appeal to Candidates
Hundreds of media outlets are running pieces every week about the talent shortage and challenges in finding skilled labor and filling top level job openings. Companies, of course, are well aware of the problem.

An Executive Recruiter Weighs In

“Candidates depend on recruitment firms not just to facilitate the administrative tasks but to provide real insights on the hiring company and the process,” said Drew Desky, managing partner of New York-based executive search firm Rand Thompson Consultants. “It is important for candidates to understand why the potential employer is hiring in the first place and to understand what situations they might be walking into. By having a good grasp on the underlying issues, a candidate is more likely to ultimately be a successful long term hire.”

Today’s challenge is no longer identifying and sourcing candidates, but getting their attention. To do this, organizations are highly focused on perception. They are anxious about what’s being said about their workplace environment and culture. Social media forums that were once used by disgruntled employees are now channels for job candidates to seek balanced information about companies. Past, present and future employees, it seems, are all in one giant feedback loop – and their opinions matter more now than at any other time.

In a recent Hunt Scanlon Media online poll, off-boarded employees have been shown to have increasing influence over prospective employees’ decisions to either approach or avoid a company. In fact, more than four out of five respondents said they were increasingly concerned about exiting employees’ impressions. Effective outplacement can minimize the negative effects of downsizing on company reputations.

Similarly, Mr. Desky noted that some specific functions that recruitment firms provide to their clients cannot be replaced by technology. “If there has been recent news on an employer that is less than favorable, or bumps along the process, a recruiter can overcome candidates’ initial objections through an in-depth conversation,” he said. “This can require a good amount of dialogue. A recruiter can empathize with a candidate and talk through the issue to see whether the roadblock is real or just perceived.”

Ultimately, the trust or frustration that a candidate experience during the hiring process carries over into feelings for the potential employer, he said. “Employers and candidates should both look to optimize the emotions that inevitably arise is the search, interview, and negotiating stages of the process,” Mr. Desky added. “At Rand Thompson, our candidates, as well as our clients, look for feedback and guidance at various stages of the hiring process. As each process and candidate are different, we find search is truly a personalized relationship business, and communication is key.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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