Customer Service and Job Postings

How can any recruiter possibly provide a responsive, high-quality recruiting experience and personalized customer service? Recruiters I have spoken with complain loudly about the hundreds, even thousands, of resumes they receive weekly from unqualified candidates. The most common comment I hear is, “I wish I could reply to every candidate, but if I did I would not be doing my job!” Candidates, on the other side of the fence, feel that they rarely experience common courtesy from recruiters. They feel ignored, snubbed, forgotten, unappreciated, and unevaluated. We all, I believe, want to provide candidates with great service. We all know that those who have been ignored, dismissed as not qualified, and otherwise treated with discourtesy will not forget the experience and may never recommend our firm to friends or apply again ó even when they may be an excellent choice for a future position. Every act of discourtesy will eventually be incorporated into the overall reputation and “brand” of your organization. As they say in the customer satisfaction business, for every customer that tells you they are satisfied, there are at least three dissatisfied customers who just haven’t said anything. The same applies for candidates. So what does the overworked, overwhelmed recruiter do? How can you provide responsive service in the face of huge numbers of resumes? Here are three tips that might help. 1. Don’t post the usual job descriptions. I have taken an excerpt from a job description I found on a website that is representative of many I see every day. The questions I ask is who, with even a modicum of technical ability and a dash of experience, would not feel qualified for this job. There are no specifics, no details, and no firm requirements:

You’re looking for more than just a job in Information Technology. You want a career that challenges your IT experience while giving you the freedom and support to succeed. Look no further than Company XYZ. Our Professional Services offerings span the entire application lifecycle, giving our customers a complete solution and our employees the opportunity to excel on all platforms. With our technical focus and emphasis on delivery, we strive to hire experienced information technology professionals with broad skill sets and the desire and versatility to learn new businesses and skills. We are selective in hiring and serious about retaining those we do hire. “We are looking for candidates with the following attributes:

  • Oracle Financials experience
  • Oracle 11i application development experience
  • Strong PL/SQL

I am sure that this job posting has generated many hundreds of unqualified resumes. Unfortunately, most job descriptions are written this way deliberately ó so that they will generate a large number of responses. When we lacked technology and reach this was a marginally acceptable approach. But today it creates big problems. Most candidates are very concerned with applying for an appropriate job, but how can they really tell from the way descriptions are written? Are the specific requirements spelled out? Are you using technology to screen for these? We need to focus on a building a new mindset. We do not need mass marketing for most positions, we do not need to generate hundreds of responses to make sure we’ve “covered the field,” and we can’t ignore hundreds of applicants because of our own inadequacies. Many of us have attitudes that would be similar to those of a store clerk who, when overwhelmed with customers, simply walks off and leaves them. 2. We need to use technology ó and use it better. Many of the newer recruiting tools and systems have built-in tools for communicating, screening, and maintaining relationships with candidates. However, the sad fact is that after these systems are purchased only a fraction of recruiters utilize their powerful communication and screening features. Most are still focused on the zero-value-added back-end administrivia and fail to serve the real customers, the candidates. There are countless email programs, newsletter distribution programs, and other free or inexpensive communication tools that you could use to help you do a better job letting candidates know where they stand. Even automatic bounce-back responses can be more intelligently written and distributed. A follow-up email could follow the bounce back and automatically provide the candidate with another touch point. 3. Relationships and referrals are keys to your success. I am more and more convinced that posting job descriptions is an archaic process. While I have no doubt that the practice will live on for a long time, it is far from being the best, cheapest, or fastest way to find good people. Using technology to develop relationships and to communicate regularly with a selected and screened pool of candidates is the real key to your success. As the economy improves, you will not be able to find the people you need by posting on Monster. You will have to use your network, ask employees (and others) for referrals, and make this the cornerstone of your efforts. This is what agencies and headhunters have been doing for decades and it’s why they have been successful. They have relied on face-to-face relationship building ó a fine practice, but one that is slow, expensive, and clumsy. The Internet lets you do it all with much greater ease and at a lower cost in time and money. Base your recruiting on the customer service mindset, go for quality not volume, and do that by building relationships and asking for referrals. If you are generating hundreds of responses to a job posting, you are doing something terribly wrong. Your goal should be to generate no more than a handful of qualified responses. Use the number of few, good responses you get to judge the value of the job board and your job posting.

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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.

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