A Candidate’s Bill of Rights

Candidates have consistently gotten the short end of technology improvements. While it’s true the tools recruiters have benefited from have often been a mixed bag, for the most part technology has made life their lives easier. Rather than spending all day cold calling or attending events, recruiters can search the Internet for an increasingly large population that has an online presence. Recruiters can electronically store and retrieve resumes and candidate data with much greater ease than they could even a decade ago. They no longer have to type and mail hundreds of letters to candidates and potential candidates with updates and with news of offers or rejection. Websites have eased the need for weekly job ads and most organizations have greatly reduced or eliminated all print advertising. But the candidates have gotten very little. From email to caller ID and voicemail, recruiters are able to hide behind electronic shields that are virtually impenetrable by ordinary candidates. Let’s look at some of the technologies that could help candidates, but rarely do.

  1. Job boards. Job boards promised exposure to more potential employers and an easy one-stop experience for job hunting. What candidates actually get, for the most part, is inclusion among thousands of others who have similar backgrounds or job aspirations. Rather than gain exposure, their resumes become buried with others and get almost no visibility at all.
  2. Email. Email was the easy way to submit a resume, communicate with a recruiter or hiring manager, and receive feedback. In reality, the huge volume of email most recruiters receive causes them to ignore and neglect candidates more than ever before. While favored or selected candidates do enjoy the convenience of email, most feel they have entered an informational black hole.
  3. Voicemail. VM promised a way to ensure that a candidate’s message got delivered to a recruiter and vice versa. Instead, VM along with caller ID has become the primary way of avoiding candidates who the recruiter is not really interested in.
  4. Websites. Websites deliver good information about the organization and the jobs that are open, but few of them provide an interactive experience where a candidate can get questions answered, enter updated information about themselves, receive feedback on cultural fit or skills, or even get notification that a job has been filled.
  5. Applicant tracking systems. ATSs were the answer to the “lost” resume. In the day of snail mail, resumes often never even made it out of the envelope and, even if they did get opened, they still had to be read and screened. The ATS, with its ability to store and retrieve resumes, did make this process much easier for the recruiter, but many resumes simply disappear because of technical glitches and data entry errors. For the candidate, not much has changed because of these systems.

So where are we? We are at a place where candidates are increasingly disenchanted with recruiters, recruiting websites and human resources. Mistreated, ignored, and often frustrated candidates are not likely to say good things about us or our organizations. Many recruiting sites devote space to how employees are treated after they are hired, but it is amazing how few provide any information for candidates on what to expect from the recruiting process itself. Some have added statements about how the data a candidate submits will be used. Federated Department stores has an excellent example of a privacy policy for recruitment. Some recruiters are now in discussion about creating a candidate’s bill of rights, which would outline what candidates can expect as to treatment, confidentiality, and other aspects of the recruiting process. As of today, the only sites where I have found any mention of candidates’ rights or how they might expect to be treated have been those of recruitment agencies. The Association of Executive Search Consultants has a published list of candidates’ rights when using an agency. Accolo a leading recruitment process outsourcing firm, has developed and published its bill of rights, which I have reproduced here and would invite you all to engage in some online discussion about. Do you agree with these rights? What’s missing? What should be changed?

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Candidate Bill of Rights

  • Confidentiality: Individuals are entitled to the security and confidentiality of their personal and professional background and data. Any decision to make that data available to others must be at the specific request of the individual.
  • Credibility: All advertised positions must be verifiably open and available to job-seekers, with the intent of the hiring organization to make any and all efforts to fill the open position.yeah
  • Accuracy: The description of an open position should accurately and specifically identify the unique attributes of that position as they relate to the Hiring Manager, organization, geography, work group, work to be completed, and performance measurement criteria.
  • Consideration: All interested candidates, from all available sources, should be considered for an open position based upon their ability and aptitude and that consideration should be free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.
  • Consistency: Hiring decisions will be made based upon on a set of specific and defined criteria that are relevant to the position, consistent across all candidates, and applied objectively.
  • Follow up: All applicants are entitled to consistent communications regarding the status of their candidacy, regardless of the outcome of their application.
  • Preparation: Each individual should expect that they will be provided with all relevant information about the organization and hiring manager in order to best prepare them for success during the interview process.
  • Respect: Scheduling of interviews will occur in a manner that connotes respect for the candidate, their time, and their efforts.
  • Communication: Every inquiry regarding the status of candidacy or application is worthy of a response.
  • Information: All applicants will be provided with the necessary information about the company, hiring manager, compensation, performance expectations, etc. in order to make an informed career decision.

(courtesy of Accolo)

John Younger, the founder and President of Accolo, is passionate about providing candidates with protection and good feedback as they go about the process of job seeking. As fewer and fewer qualified candidates seek out positions, it is critical that we act with responsibility and provide the best possible service to these scarce resources.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


8 Comments on “A Candidate’s Bill of Rights

  1. I thought I’d post a self-serving review. I think almost everyone will agree that the candidate has been on the short end of the recruiting stick since recruiting began. The problem has become increasing worse with technology.

    I know some will argue that they get back to everyone they speak with and that is the best they can do. A few will state that every candidate gets an email acknowledging receipt of their application. Is that really enough?

    The black hole syndrome needed to be fixed.

    Bottom line:

    * Every candidate that applies to the position should be given a fair shot on a level playing field.

    * Every candidate who applies (qualified or not) deserves a response on their application. The response should come after their application is reviewed and not before the hiring manager evaluates it.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is the templated job description. You can look up Account Executive or Sales Rep on the internet and you get 100’s of the same job descriptions (usually bullet point by bullet point). We all know those jobs are not the same. They are unique by company, hiring manager, work environment and desired accomplishments. The templated job description basically states, ‘We have a sales job, if you are in sales, apply and we will tell you all about it after you fill out our application.’ Even then 94% of the people who want to hear more about the job never hear anything back.

    I’m proud to work for a company that treats everyone with a very high degree of respect.

    I’m leaving for vacation so my response to any flames will have to wait a week. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Some recruiters have been following this approach always and quite rightly. Just because candidates were in plentiful supply previously it seemed to give many recruiters (both 3rd party and corporate) the ‘right’ to treat candidates however they wanted.

    Now the ‘impending talent shortage’ is causing some of us to suddenly get a conscience all of a sudden – please!

    Check out Nick Corcodilos – Ask The Headhunter – and his latest article


    – I am sure he would also have something to say on this too.

    We should balance things though by getting canddiates to adhere to a Recruiters Bill of Rights (with acknowledgement and apologies to Peter Lefkowitz)
    Candidates should:
    1. Remain honest throughout the process
    2. Advise of multiple offers
    3. Update any skill changes
    4. Give heads up to change in urgency to find a job
    5. Expose all skeletons prior to references being taken
    6. Provide immediate interview feedback
    7. Be decisive

    Just my toonies worth!

  3. Kevin,

    Another provocative piece. Well done.

    What I find really interesting, is that while we can all agree with the value and need of a candidate’s bill of rights, your review of the promises made and not kept by many of the different stake holders in this market really hits the nail right on the head!

    The right approach or service without leveraging the appropriate technology eventually doesn’t scale in any environment and leaves the candidate holding the bag.

    The right technology alone never solves the problem for the long term, and again the candidate is left holding the bag.

    It seems that with the emergence of many of the latest technologies and delivery models on the market there is an opportunity to combine these with the kind of quality approach/service you are writing about and actually deliver quality to the corporate customer and the candidate customer. It will be interesting to see who actually gets there!

    Maybe a bill of rights is just what is needed to keep everyone’s eye on the ultimate goal.

    Great piece! I enjoyed it.

  4. A very timely article, one that addresses directly a topic of conversation I’ve broached multiple times with some close friends on the corporate executive (non-recruiting) side…

    Many of those folks swear by ATS systems such as Brassring, in the belief that they are serving their company by reducing candidate intake costs, and serving their applicants by facilitating the resume submission and receipt acknowledgement process. All too often the well-known ‘black hole’ lurks right underneath that automated response, however.

    The experience this creates from the candidate’s perspective is impersonal at best, and creates an immediate sense of inequality between the candidate and the prospective employer. Implementing additional barriers shielding recruiters from candidates only serves to increase the image of ‘the corporation’ as an Ivory Tower.

    The solution, as ever, is as simple as it is complex… Provide candidates with the same courtesies and respect we demand from them: candor & honesty, accessibility, timely feedback, and decisiveness. Technological solutions are merely tools, and should not be used as an excuse to refrain from mutually constructive, beneficial and potentially lucrative exchanges.

  5. There may be some who feel that there really is no issue here. If there were not at least the perception that there wasn?t, my guess is that Kevin would not be writing about it. I am glad that he did and I wish more were aware of the issue. For as much as I absolutely understand that you can (and do) have cases of ?people behaving badly? on both sides, it has been both my experience and observation that there still remains a significant imbalance, and it does not favor the candidate — technology or no technology.

    While it is nice to see an attempt to craft a candidate?s bill of rights, one really wonders what it means or why it is even necessary. What this is really about is how people interact with and treat each other. Most people I know, irrespective of how they make a living, have reputations that come not from the words the may write but from the behaviors they exhibit. It is about how one defines and lives their life — be it on a personal or a professional level. If one has the right value system, they won?t need a bill of rights framed on their desk, they simply will conduct themselves according to that value system — the rest will take care of itself, and people will beat a path to their proverbial door.

  6. Well said Paul. I agree.

    And add one more thing to that list of Recruiter’s Rights: Respect and value my time, if you do not have the required experience and skills, please do not apply.

    I agree with respecting the candidate and dealing with them justly and fairly, and keeping them informed, etc.

    However I do not agree that I have a responsibility to coddle, respond to, or otherwise engage, every click happy job board applicant who does not hesitate to click the ‘apply now’ button on every job posting he sees. I.E. the 5 year chinese food delivery guy that responds to my posting for a multi-unit bigbox retail manager.

    Fortunately I don’t have to deal with much ‘applicant flow’ as I very very rarely post a position. Almost all of my candidates are directly sourced.

  7. Bill,
    Your comment below made me remember an individual who applied to a Data Warehousing posting.
    He drove a forklift in a warehouse!
    You just made my morning! :o)
    Best Regards,
    Keith Severtson
    Senior Recruiter
    Recruiters of Minnesota

    ‘However I do not agree that I have a responsibility to coddle, respond to, or otherwise engage, every click happy job board applicant who does not hesitate to click the ‘apply now’ button on every job posting he sees. I.E. the 5 year chinese food delivery guy that responds to my posting for a multi-unit bigbox retail manager.’

  8. Do any of you who do third party recruiting have some type of contract for your clients that ensure the confidentiality of the candidate once the resume hits their desk. We obtain permission from the candidate to submit their resume to the client, but once the client receives the resume, it is out of our control. We have had clients pick up the phone and call someone they knew at a potential candidates place of business and ask questions about the candidate. Can any of you share how your agency addresses this issue?

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