If you really want to see a VP of HR get nervous, ask him or her about the candidate experience at their organization. Like profanity-laced tirades and red faces? Ask a job seeker what happened the last time they applied for a position through an ATS. Of course, there are some wonderful exceptions out there, and I am so proud that many of our clients have made the candidate experience a goal in 2012, but I think we all know that for the most part the CE is still pretty lousy. From my vantage point, it’s one of the biggest topics facing HR, and now that the job market is beginning to improve I expect a harsh spotlight to be shining on this issue.
In most circles outside of our industry, the popular thing to do is to bash HR and recruiters as nasty, unfeeling cretins who purposely design byzantine application processes and cackle malevolently each time a candidate leaves a voice mail about a job they interviewed for two months ago. I’ve written about the candidate experience a lot over the last few years, and my opinion really hasn’t changed: it’s a simple numbers game that HR is on the wrong side of. In an interview I did with recruiting guru Peter Weddle, he put it all into perspective:
You cannot recruit more talent with less recruiting resources. It defies the laws of human nature. If you want to hire talent, you have to use the talent of the recruiting team, and that means giving them the time and support they need to do their best work. Frankly, I don’t get it. Companies spend hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars on their ATS and then let the vendor off the hook. Not only are the vast majority of these systems abusive to candidates, they’re abusive to recruiters, as well. In addition, they’re costing employers a fortune by giving them inaccurate data on the source of candidates (causing them to misspend both their recruitment advertising dollars and the time of their recruiters).
Me? I’ve been waiting for top management to see the cost of a bad candidate experience and—well, I think they need help. If you’re a recruiter, show them the revenue potential you lost when that great salesperson walked out the door because no one called her after the interview. Tell them about the time, resources and impact on care and morale that will result from fumbling the Respiratory Care Manager you wanted so badly.
Fortunately, there are some great resources out there to help. Experts on both www.ere.net and www.shrm.org are telling their success stories and showing blueprints and examples of the steps they are taking to fix the candidate experience. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s going to be a process filled with setbacks, but I believe those that truly want to fix it—and the CEO’s who have their backs–will prevail, and win the battle of not only common courtesy, but the war for the best talent.