“Good Grief, Charles Brown. They Never Told You if You Got the Job?”

Charlie Brown never got much respect. Not from Lucy, who when she wasn’t snatching the football away at the last minute, was making fun of his pitching skills, nor from the Little Red-Haired Girl, with whom he was so infatuated.

Now, as it turns out, Charles Brown doesn’t get much respect from Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Out of his 100 applications for a job as a marketing manager, the Charlie Brown of our story has no idea where he stands with six out 10 of the companies.

Six weeks after applying, Charlie heard directly from only 28 companies that he isn’t getting a job. Seven more gave him a reference number, but despite having an MBA from Michigan and BA in mechanical engineering, Charlie didn’t know what to do with it. Three companies allowed him to check his status through their website. One — REI, the outdoor company that has been on the 100 best list for years — actually gave him a call.

As the other Charlie Brown would say, “Good grief.”

Charlie the job seeker (he’s Charles only to Marcie and Eudora), is a creation of the recruiting consultancy CareerXroads, springing from the fertile imaginations of partners Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler. Annually, the two talent acquisition consultants conduct a mystery shopper-like survey of the application process of the 100 best companies. These companies are picked because, as the resulting report released today explains,

CareerXroads considers these companies more likely than others to follow the best recruiting practices; if they aren’t, it’s a good indication that the majority of firms are not measuring up.

How did they measure up?

Better than 10 years ago when CareerXroads started doing this survey, but still not good enough in the opinion of the authors. In detailing what the volunteer crew of professional recruiters discovered during the online application process and its immediate aftermath, Crispin and Mehler summed it up in this way:

Brown did find improvement in the 10 years since CareerXroads introduced this annual survey. All but a few companies acknowledge receipt of a job application. Yet he also discovered that too many organizations:

  • Provide insufficient information about jobs and their corporate cultures.
  • Fail to make the application process user-friendly by not allowing job seekers to upload information in an easy, logical manner.
  • Besiege candidates with irrelevant questions.
  • Require candidates to take 10 minutes or more to apply for an opening.

Just finding their way around the company career site took some doing. Only about a third of the firms were found to have a simple, “instinctive” connection between the home page and the career channel. At three of the sites, Chuck never did find the company career site.

Article Continues Below

When he did manage to get to the jobs listings, Charlie discovered that 13 percent of the sites didn’t provide for a click from the job description to the application. However, when he did finally apply — a process that in several instances took more than a half-hour — Charlie Brown usually got at least a confirmation.

Application experiences like the ones the fictional applicants of CareerXroads have endured prompted the creation of the Candidate Experience Awards a few years ago. Spurred by Chris Forman of StartWire, he, Crispin, Elaine Orler, and Ed Newman formed the Talent Board, which sponsors the annual award recognizing companies that meet a standard of candidate experience excellence.

Besides recognition, the CandE Awards “enable ANY company to benchmark and improve their candidate experience.”

Considering the job seeking experience of Charles Brown, there’s plenty of room for companies to improve.

Overall, say Crispin and Mehler, in their report,

The improvements noted over the past decade have been small and incremental, not sweeping. Too many companies continue to treat job seekers like yesterday’s stale bread. They are secretive with information, indifferent to candidates’ needs. This is instead of creating welcoming experiences whose benefits are twofold: a higher likelihood of adding productive employees and enhanced employment brand.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


20 Comments on ““Good Grief, Charles Brown. They Never Told You if You Got the Job?”

  1. As one of the judges for this fall’s CandE Awards, I think that I can speak on behalf of the esteemed board and the other judges that we’re very excited about the commitment that many leading employers are making to improving the quality of the candidate experience. In short, we’re looking for organizations which treat candidates with respect and which are doing some innovative things to make the experience of applying as positive as possible.

    My hope is that the CandE Awards will spur further commitment and innovation amongst all employers — large and small — as more in our industry come to realize that treating candidates with respect isn’t just the right thing to do for the candidate, it is also the right thing to do for the organization.

  2. Great article. I wish there was more change in the past 10 years. Why hasn’t there been much change? As a tech entrepreneur in the space, we really stress candidate experience and have often wondered why many competitors didn’t stress it as much.

  3. I can tell you, it’s because of cost/benefit. How much time are people supposed to spend consoling and mollifying people who they are not going to work with, nor are likely ever to work with again? For a recruiting agency yes, your candidates should be your highest priority. But on the corporate side, how much time is an inside recruiter supposed to spend with someone who has no hope of now or often ever, working in their company?

    In my company people get an automated reply to any resume submission, provided they do it through the ATS system as asked. Most ignore that request and simply email their resume. Often it contains no contact information, so that needs to them be manually inputted from their email so we at least have their email address in the system. Also, these days I notice people often put their contact information in a header so as to make their resume look better, which also makes it unreadable to the parsing engines in ATS systems, so again even if they do include their contact info, it has to be manually inputted. With sometimes hundreds of resumes submitted for review for various positions, how much data entry time should be invested just to make sure these people get a response?

    Provided they get into the ATS system, everyone gets a TNT letter at the end of the process regardless of whether they were interviewed or not. We try to contact all people interviewed who we’ve decided against to let them know the news, and if we don’t get in touch with them we leave a voicemail and send them an email. During the process we try to keep a weekly schedule of updates and give an idea of next steps and time frames at the end of every meet up or phone call.

    That all sounds reasonable to me.

    Now here comes the problem: according to many candidates, our candidate experience sucks. Of course when I look to the source of these complaints it’s often people who were interviewed and not chosen, contacted and told no, and who still refused to let go of the issue and repeatedly called and emailed and re applied, etc., etc., etc. A great many people will not take no for an answer, and it was not unusual over the last few years for me to come in to a voicemail box with more than 50 calls, no messages left, often with the same numbers showing up over and over again. And that was when I got back from lunch. Forget over night, or over the weekend. It would be full. The ones who left voicemails were a rarity, my guess is they didn’t know the phone would register their call even if they hung up and didn’t leave a message.

    I’ve been reading articles here for quite and while and recently joined, and I don’t want to be the eternal cynic on these boards, but we are ALL faced with budgets and cost constraints. We all have to decide where to best spend our time and money. So the question is, how much time and resources are we supposed to spend building relationships with people our company specifically said we don’t want a relationship with? Was any effort undertaken to see what efforts companies actually took to inform candidates about their status, and was this compared to some objective standard that was agreed to be reasonable, in order to weed out the shall we say, overly ambitious?

    I would love to make sure everyone feels like they got the world’s greatest massage when the process is done, but this is an inherently competitive process and there will be one winner and whole lot of losers for any given job opening. People need to understand this and the nature of business decisions, and this needs to be accounted for in any ‘study’ of the issue or you have no way of knowing whether or not there’s anything meaningful in what you’re measuring.

  4. I had one of my massive retorts planned, but this topic has become rather boring and repetitive, so I’ll be brief: Virtually NOBODY in a position of power within Staffing cares how the non-“Fabulous 5%” (or “Politically Non-connected Fabulous 5%” at employer- of-choice) because they aren’t rewarded if they do care, or punished if they don’t. If they DID care a little, they could hire $3.00/hr. Virtual Candidate Care Reps to make sure each and every candidate has a decent (if not actually pleasant) application experience. Do you how many people have asked me where and how to get these $3.00/hr. VCCRs? ZERO.


  5. Interesting article, John, and it’s nice to know someone’s studying the candidate experience – at least as far as application acknowledgement and responses go. To follow this study, I’d like to see a survey of job seekers’ experiences since fall 2008 when the people that lost their jobs couldn’t find another for many months (and even years) afterwards. As someone who’s been seeking reemployment for over 2 years now and who networks with other long-term job seekers, I’ve heard a lot of feedback about poor treatment by companies during and after interviews. I think that would be a huge eye opener for a lot of people out there.

    For the record, I get that high volume of applications over the last few years can make it difficult to offer a personal touch in TNT processes. But with so many application processes being automated and using recruiting specific databases, it really shouldn’t be that difficult for someone to program the system to send a final TNT to non-selected applicants when the recruitment for a specific position closes out. If the systems were actually being used to maximum effectiveness – requisition through assigning an applicant to the position ID – it should be pretty easy to set up an auto message to applicants for that job. If a computer can say “thank you for applying” when the app is received, the closing step should also be doable.

    Back to my first paragraph about surveying long-term job seekers. I can guarantee that a lot of employers may be hurting for employees when the market does eventually turn around based on how they’ve treated candidates during the last 4 years of Employers’ Choice. I’ve known of people who’ve been asked completely inappropriate questions, who’ve been sent on interviews by recruiters who are making no effort to link the right candidate to the right job (an executive assistant background sent to interview for line level manufacturing by an agency recruiter), etc, etc. I’ve been in interviews where committee members were side-talk-gossiping about another employee or checking text messages and emails *during* the interview. And I’ve been appalled at how many times I’ve had to call employers several times to learn the status of a position I interviewed for AS A FINALIST. No, I’m not talking about contacting them 4 times in 2 days after the interview for a status. I’m talking about following up once a week over several weeks and being given a non-committal “they’re still deciding” when I was told they’d know within 2 or 3 days. It’s bad enough to be unemployed. It’s downright insulting to have to take such initiative to confirm that someone else was hired and started several weeks earlier. And my background is in HR – the department that’s supposed to be modeling the example of how to do things right during the hiring process.

    Richard, I’m sorry to see that you’re so frustrated by frustrated applicants you have to deal with. I can tell you most of them just want a fair shot. Maybe there’s something they really like about your company and they’re hoping to get a foot in the door. Maybe they’re wondering why a job they’ve applied for and meet the listed requirements for keeps getting reposted for months on end without being offered the opportunity to come in and meet with the hiring manager. If they have been turned down for one job, maybe they’re still hoping to have a shot at another job in the company. I can promise that if any of the frustration you’re showing here comes through to them, they’re wondering why someone who comes across sounding as though he thinks they’re a pain is employed while they’re still looking after 4, 5, 9, 18 months.

    I’m not expecting any part of the application process to make me feel like I got the world’s greatest massage, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little respect for the time I took to apply and participate in the process. Please remember, applicants aren’t getting paid for this. Recruiters and hiring managers are.

  6. Hi Kirsten,

    I think you missed my point, which is against what standard is ‘satisfaction’ with the recruiting process being measured? By all accounts at my company we make a concerted effort to keep all candidates informed, yet in our own informal surveys we get bad ratings. And part of the reason is for any job getting over 10 applicants, 90% of the people will not get the job, and tend to be dissatisfied off the bat for that very reason. Anyone who has studied customer service also knows that people are way more likely to report a bad experience than a good one. I agree with this paper, but I also think it’s less than informative in the end.

    It takes a long time to apply for some jobs, and that’s bad. But who is foisting the reporting requirements on these companies that drive these decisions? Companies sometimes have to choose between ease of application process and getting fined or sued because they have inadequate reporting on how many people who fall under this or that protected group applied.

    Companies don’t provide useful, two way feedback to candidates. Are we recruiters or career coaches? Again, do the people who wrote this report understand the concept of opportunity cost, and that with limited resources you may not be able to explain or coach or give feedback to every candidate, or even most of them? And to that point, why should we? Again, we are not career coaches, we are recruiters looking to fill a position. If you interview and don’t get the job, a no and reason why are more than reasonable to expect. Wanting anything beyond that is a bit ridiculous, and giving anything more than that opens the company up to litigation risks. It’s very easy to raise the point of a ‘lack of communication’ as a criticism without giving much in depth thought to the sheer logistics of having to maintain and give specific, personalized, regular contact to what can literally be thousands of people at a time. Keith’s suggestion for VCCRs is a good solution, but it still costs money and in the end and the return on that investment is far from tangible or immediate, or clear that it even exists. Nor is the legal risk, which is real, of telling someone specifically why they didn’t get this or that job properly quantified. Or even mentioned from what I can see.

    As an example, I once interviewed a guy who, when he came in for the interview, put one foot up on the chair support and proceeded to adjust his crotch for the entirety of the interview. Should I have given him feedback on that? What if he had a terminal case of some medical condition, mental or otherwise, that made this an unavoidable part of his personality? Could we be sued over not hiring him because of that? Luckily there were plenty of other reasons he wasn’t qualified, and while this is an extreme example it does show the issue pretty clearly. Perfectly valid reasons for not hiring someone can be legally actionable if you annoy the applicant enough and get a pliant enough judge.

    CareerXroads is, I think, an awesome idea and a great service. Someone needs to start benchmarking these things and coming up with cost effective methods that improve performance, AND measure an ROI to make sure companies aren’t throwing their money away. All I’m saying is that this is a relatively new thing to track, our field of recruiting and HR is notoriously hostile to metrics, and in my opinion notoriously bad at designing and tracking them.

    The report in its concluding paragraphs says “companies must dramatically upgrade the resources that will help job seekers make more informed decisions.”

    Why? Has anyone done a truly objective study on how and to what extent this would lead to improved recruiting and retention, performance and tenure? Has anyone figured out the cost of these necessary improvements and balanced them against the expected ROI? This whole subject reminds of the passive candidate buzzword craze that surfaces every now and then and gains steam. The executives at my company got all hyped up about passive sourcing for a while, I asked them a simple question: Can anyone present me one shread of objective evidence in the form of a decent study with a solid design that adequately defines what a ‘passive’ vs ‘active’ candidate is, what ‘passive’ vs ‘active’ recruiting is, and which then shows that passive candidates become better performers and longer tenured employees? I’ve been looking for this evidence for a long time, I haven’t found jack to support such a claim.

    So when I see reports like this, I’m reminded of the perpetual appliers I have who have worked more than ten years at twenty different companies – average tenure of 6 months in any particular job… – in industries and positions completely unrelated to my company and the positions which we have open, and who routinely contact my colleagues and myself with requests for interviews and demands to know why they weren’t selected. Which might have something to do with having no education, no job stability worth a damn, and no relevant experience. They typically have a bad opinion of the recruiting experience.

    And when I see reports like this, I have to ask questions, much like the ones I asked above. Companies ‘must’ do this… Why? It seems like everyone is keen on determining best practices without doing so much as a fly-over cost benefit or ROI analysis to see if it’s even worth it. THAT is what I object to, and the lack of some objective standard to measure these things against. That objective standard would be one based on expected ROI for certain best practices. This report notes some very easy to correct issues with website navigation and other such things, companies should get their act together on those issues no doubt, because it’s easy to do and the payoff is obvious. But there are larger issues as well, such as the staff – virtual or otherwise – and the associated overhead of undertaking the mass communication strategy that seems to be suggested here. The ‘why’ justification behind some of their suggestions is easy to see in some cases, not so in others.

  7. Hi, Richard,

    Thank you for clarifying your concerns with the depth of the research and the article’s recommendations. You are correct that I didn’t get that out of your first posting. And I would agree that a more thorough analysis of what constitutes a “bad applicant experience” and the included factors for drawing that conclusion would be useful before making comprehensive changes.

    That being said, I stand by my statement that recruiters and other interviewers are extremely capable of demonstrating some odd and unprofessional behaviors from their side of the table. I spent my whole career hearing about stories like the “gentleman” you described who adjusted himself through the interview from the perspective of recruiters. I just never realized that applicants can come up with an equally astounding collection of stories like that. And while recruiters’ tongues may be tied for liability reasons, applicants are stuck not saying anything because they don’t want to get a reputation of being a difficult applicant. It’s a lot different to experience those behaviors from the perspective of someone who needs a job and has no power in the relationship structure. Suffice to say, both sides have something to learn from the other.

    Once again, thank you for the thoughtful reply and the time you took to clarify your posting from yesterday.

  8. @ Richard: I really appreciate your direct and open approach to saying what really goes on. You restated my point very succinctly: most companies aren’t willing to spend $3.00/hr to treat all applicants like decent, responsible adults (and in the process keep the annoying folks away from recruiters like you and me). Speaking of “keeping the annoying folks away from recruiters like you and me,” I think it’s highly possible (though probably not easy or cheap) to come up with a fully legal and compliant application system which is both applicant- and recruiter-friendly. It would ask a very few upfront questions, and if the answers weren’t appropriate to the position, the interested person COULD NOT APPLY for that position. In conjunction with the VCCRs, this would allow recruiters to develop and maintain relationships just with active and viable candidates, leaving all others in the hands of the VCCRs.

    @ Kirsten: as a contract recruiter, I’m ALWAYS applying for gigs and going to interviews, and my experience as a job seeker mirrors yours. While I wish I were in the “Fabulous 5%” (or “Politically-Connected Fabulous 5%” at employers-of-choice), I know I’m not. Consequently, I have to hustle more (my phone doesn’t ring off the hook from people begging me to recruit for them. Go figure?), and I don’t EXPECT responsible, professional treatment. (Now someone will say: “Then you won’t get it, Keith. Expect what you need, and you’ll ‘manifest’ it.” Yeah, right…)

    My point? Treat others with respect and professional courtesy, but as a job seeker, don’t expect it. Also, don’t expect (and neither do most economists) for the job market to substantially improve for *several years. Consequently, if you are in a position to pick and choose your work and employers, by all means do so. On the other hand, if you are like the vast majority of job seekers (and I include myself in this category): by and large: when they say “jump,” you ask “how high?” If you/I don’t like it, there are plenty more as good who WILL like it (or at least will pretend they do)..….

    Keith “Life’s a Bitch, and Then You Have Puppies” Halperin

    * http://myweb.rollins.edu/wseyfried/forecast.htm

    Recent Forecasts

    Wells Fargo Securities Economic Forecast (latest monthly forecast, Aug 2012; latest forecast, Aug 24-latest weekly analysis): economic growth = 1.9% in 2012Q3 and 1.1% in 2012Q4; 2.2% in 2012 and 1.5% in 2013; PCE inflation = 1.6% in 2012, 1.1% in 2013; core CPI inflation = 2.2% in 2012 and 1.9% in 2013; unemployment rate remains at 8.3% through the end of 2012 before easing to 8% by the end of 2013

    CBO (August 22, blog post): economic growth = 2.25% in second half of 2012, 1.7% in 2013 according to the alternative scenario (-0.5% according to the baseline including -2.9% in 2013H1; baseline assumes the expiration of tax cuts & implementation of spending cuts); unemployment rate = 8% at end of 2013 according to the alternative scenario, 9.1% under the baseline; PCE inflation = 1.4% in 2012; growth in potential GDP = 1.6% for 2013, 2.2% for 2014-2017, 2.4% for 2018-2022

    Economic forecasting survey, Aug 2012 (WSJ): economic growth = 1.8% in 2012Q3. 2.1% in 2012Q4; 1.9% in 2012, 2.4% in 2013, 3% in 2014; unemployment = 8.1% at end of 2012, 7.7% at end of 2013, 7.1% at end of 2014; inflation = 1.9% in 2012, 2.2% in 2013 and 2.4% in 2014; 22% chance of recession in US in the next year; 79% cite downside risk

    Quarterly economic survey (USA Today – Aug 13, 2012): economic growth = 2.1% in 2013; unemployment rate = 8.1% by end of 2012, 7.8% in 2013Q3

    Survey of Professional Forecasters (latest survey Aug 2012): economic growth=1.6% in 2012Q3, 2.2% in 2012Q4; 2.2% in 2012, 2.1% in 2013, 2.7% in 2014, 3.1% in 2015; core inflation (PCE)=1.9% in 2012, 2% in 2013 and 2% in 2014 (overall PCE inflation=1.7% in 2012, 2% in 2013, 2.2% in 2014); unemployment rate=8.1% in 2012Q4; average unemployment rate = 7.9% in 2013, 7.3% in 2014, 7% in 2015; natural rate of unemployment = 6%

    OMB (July 2012 – see pdf page9): economic growth = 2.3% in 2012, 2.7% in 2013 and 3.5% in 2014; unemployment (Q4) = 7.9% in 2012, 7.6% in 2013, 7.1% in 2014; inflation = 2.1% in 2012, 1.9% in 2013, 2% in 2014; natural rate of unemployment = 5.4%, growth in potential GDP = 2.5%

    IMF (July 3): US economic growth = 2.% in 2012, 2.3% in 2013, 2.8% in 2014; inflation = 2.2% in 2012, 1.7% in 2013, 1.8% in 2014; unemployment averages 8.2% in 2012, 7.9% in 2013, 7.5% in 2014

    Fed Forecast as of June 2012: economic growth = 1.9-2.4% in 2012, 2.2%-2.8% in 2013, 3-3.5% in 2014; long-run economic growth = 2.3-2.5% (note: these are from 4th quarter to 4th quarter); unemployment rate = 8-8.2% in 2012, 7.5-8% in 2013, 7-7.7% in 2014 (estimates are for 4th quarter of the respective year); natural rate of unemployment = 5.2 to 6%; inflation as measured by PCE index of 1.2 to 1.7% in 2012 (core = 1.7-2%), 1.5-2% in 2013 (core = 1.6-2%), and 1.5 to 2% (core = 1.6-2%) in 2014; includes forecasts for federal funds rate

    Univ. of Michigan Economic Forecast (executive summary – June 18, 2012): economic growth = 2.3% in 2012 and 2.4% in 2013; core inflation (CPI) = 2.1% in 2012 (overall inflation = 2%) and 1.8% in 2013; unemployment rate declines to 8% by end of 2012 and 7.8% by end of 2013
    Bloomberg Survey (June 2012): economic growth = 2.2% in 2012, 2.4% in 2013, unemployment rate = 8% at the end of 2012

    World Bank Global Economic Forecast (June 11, 2012): US economic growth = 2.1% in 2012, 2.4% in 2013;

    Livingston Survey (latest survey – June 7, 2012): economic growth = 2.2% in first half of 2012, 2.6% in second half of 2012 and 2.3% in first half of 2013; unemployment rate = 8.1% in June 2012, 8% in Dec 2012 and 7.8% in June 2013; inflation (CPI) = 2.3% for 2012 and 2% for 2013; long-term economic growth = 2.7%, inflation averages 2.5% over the next decade

    American Banker’s Association (June 8): economic growth = 2.2% in 2012, 2% in 2013; unemployment = 8% in second half of 2012, 7.8% in 2013

    OECD Economic Outlook (May 2012): economic growth in US = 2.4% in 2012, 2.6% in 2013; inflation = 2.3% in 2012, 1.9% in 2013; unemployment rate = 8.1% in 2012, 7.6% in 2013

    NABE (May 21-CNBC): unemployment rate = 8% by end of 2012, 7.5% by end of 2013; economic growth = 2.3% in 2012, 2.7% in 2013

    CNN-Money (April 19, 2012): economic growth = 2.4% in 2012Q1, 2.6% in 2012, unemployment declines to 8% by end of 2012

  9. @ Keith
    ” I think it’s highly possible (though probably not easy or cheap) to come up with a fully legal and compliant application system which is both applicant- and recruiter-friendly.”

    I think it’s more than possible, it’s likely easy. It just requires a little thought. But as I said, and I think this mirrors what you have said previously here and elsewhere, until employers can quantify and thus ‘feel’ the cost of a bad candidate experience, they’re not going to care. I don’t doubt there is a cost. But figuring it out would require standards of service and weeding out the nuts from the people who truly have a valid reason for being dissatisfied with their experience. And as you can guess, I’ve had way more than my share of the nuts.

    I’ve got one guy calling me every now and then. He applies, and then calls and accuses me of being a CIA front organization for drug running. In all honesty, I want him to keep calling. But there are other less amusing examples , and I’m sure we’ve all had parallel experiences.

  10. Most Corp Staffing people don’t have the guts to candidly tell an applicant why they did not get the job; forget the legal/beagle stuff and give someone a decent understandable explanation as to their candidacy. CandE awards are a joke. Just another topic for the rubber chicken circuit.

  11. @ Ty
    “Most Corp Staffing people don’t have the guts to candidly tell an applicant why they did not get the job”

    Or, we have nothing to gain by going in depth on the issue with them, and more to lose. As an agency recruiter, I had other possible positions they could fill where they would be a better fit, so it paid to talk more in depth with candidates who didn’t make the cut. I could ‘manufacture’ another REQ that they could fit, given enough time. As a corporate recruiter, that’s usually not the case. As an agency recruiter, you are a job coach to a certain extent. Not so for a corporate recruiter. The positions are really incomparable. One thing that might help our industry could be if people realized that and started looking at the different conditions each works under and stop expecting agency recruiters to behave like corporate recruiters, and stop expecting corporate recruiters to act like agency recruiters. And maybe then they could compliment each other better in terms of service offerings.

  12. Great comments. Enjoy them all.

    Mark and I started doing these ‘anecdotal’ exercises more than 10 years ago to make a point…and many of the comments expressed here, including those in our article, are still as relevant today as they were then…and all are clearly strongly held opinions…but they (our opinions and those expressed in these comments) are just opinions and simply lack any foundation in fact because no one is collecting any serious data to prove their claims….until now.

    About a year ago we began collecting details from the relatively few companies who have been making an effort to change the game by addressing at least a part of their recruiting process toward defining the candidate experience and its impact on their firm’s success. That is what Steven Rothberg referred to as the Candidate Experience Awards.

    Far from being a joke, it is one of the first efforts to match employer claims about how candidates are treated with the actual attitudes and actions of the candidates themselves. I would be the first to tell you, we’ve not found answers to many of the questions you pose but, I will say we are tilting at windmills with a lot more than a donkey and sword.

    Give us (and ‘us’ is now a growing number of 100+ recruiting leaders willing to rethink recruiting) a few years and the joke may be on those who ignore this issue.

    Either way, I enjoy the debate. Definitely would like to get ERE to sponsor a little webinar debate on the subject. Keith, it would be fun, you’ve got a practical streak as a Devil’s advocate that is useful in moving this forward. Ty, you are invited too as I agree that most recruiters have little training or enjoyment in telling the truth…even if their firm does allow them to. In fact, we now have some evidence, rather than opinion as too why that is. I’ll also be real interested in hearing how you do it.

  13. Part of the problem is that recruiters often do not get a specific Yes or No from the hiring manager or even a reason why. In the past hiring managers trained in management would give a specific yes or no and why.

    Nowadays, recruiters (both internally & externally) are told, “Let’s put this one to the side for now” or “maybe, let’s see what else is out there”. However, nothing specific is really ever communicated. I think part of this may be due to lack of management/legal training (preference to hire one’s own kind) and lack of business training on the part of management. Whatever the reason, it tells me that the hiring manager has a secret agenda and is not really looking for the best quality person for the job. The people who suffer are the candidates and the recruiter who never gets a definite answer.

  14. Richard,
    Good comments.

    I believe what we have to gain is a candidate (one who has been phone-screeneded or interviewed in-person) who although did not get the job, if dealt with respectfully, timely, honestly, and candidly, will likely walk away and communicate positively to many that he comes in contact with about the company he interviewed with, which has many good implications for that company and its brand.

    How hard and pretty risk-less is it to tell a candidate they are not being hired or not going to be invited in for an interview because Candidate A has more relevant or better experience in a certain skill or area of expertise that is required then they do?

    Not being communicated to at all is just not understandable and clearly makes no sense. And to be communicated to in a nebulous and ambiguous manner i.e., “we’re going in a different direction” or “we don’t see it working with you” or ‘we’re going to keep looking’ is an embarrassment to the profession.

    You would think that Corp Staffing or the elite “HRBP'” commandos would have gotten this down by now. But hey, it is 2012 and CHRO/HRBP’s are still trying to ‘get to the table’ and those who are ‘at the table’ really think they are moving the business forward, when in effect, they are just taking u a seat. they should leave the HRBP sea empty, just like Clint did at the RNC.

  15. “I believe what we have to gain is a candidate (one who has been phone-screeneded or interviewed in-person) who although did not get the job, if dealt with respectfully, timely, honestly, and candidly, will likely walk away and communicate positively to many that he comes in contact with about the company he interviewed with, which has many good implications for that company and its brand.”

    I would agree, but as in the more ephemeral aspects of marketing where ROI is hard to quantify, and especially when the economy is rough, that time taken to do that is a hard cost to justify.

    “How hard and pretty risk-less is it to tell a candidate they are not being hired or not going to be invited in for an interview because Candidate A has more relevant or better experience in a certain skill or area of expertise that is required then they do?”

    Nothing. However, we here at least, already do that, and routinely get asked for more information. What specific experience? Why is it better? What industry did they work in? Etc., etc., etc. Perhaps I’ve gotten more than my share of odd balls, but often they feel it is possible to negotiate their way back into consideration for the job. I can see that possibility at an agency, or a possiblity for a different job, but at the corporate level once you do finally pry a Yes or No out of the HM, it’s basically done, barring a tragic death or something.

    Also this goes to my main point: what’s the standard? If you call a candidate, say thanks for interviewing, tell them no and generally why, and leave things on a good note, what else is there to do? A company has met their obligations at this point as I see it, and if a candidate is still dissatisfied at that point AND decides to report it, who looks into this and decides if it’s reasonable?

    Lastly, what you descibe is what I’d call a best practice, which is nice in theory and for a handful of companies, but as I said in a post elsewhere the law of averages applies. Best practices in sub best companies aren’t always possible if only because of lack of buy in. A company has to HAVE a coherent branding strategy in order for their hiring strategy to be integrated into, and even granting a branding strategy, the company principals have tp buy into the fact that recruiting is a part of that. There are a myriad of real world reasons why not all companies do this, which consist of everything from different priorities to outright incompetence. Best practices for Canon and other corporate giant companies won’t work in smaller family owned businesses, or won’t be allowed to work.

    You say it like it’s simple, if the owners of some of the companies I’ve worked for even found out I said anything but, “Sorry the answer is no, thank you for interviewing,” to candidates, it could have meant my job, simply because they were so paranoid about lawsuits. Others simply wouldn’t want me ‘wasting time’ with people who already out of the running. Were they right? Doesn’t matter, it was their company, not mine. Not my risk to take, all I could do was advise them and then implement what they wanted, right or wrong.

    “Not being communicated to at all is just not understandable and clearly makes no sense. And to be communicated to in a nebulous and ambiguous manner i.e., “we’re going in a different direction” or “we don’t see it working with you” or ‘we’re going to keep looking’ is an embarrassment to the profession.”

    Again, say anything beyond that, you’re at risk. And again, we are not job coaches, we are recruiters. If we’re doing our jobs right we’re not rejecting people for one reason, we’re rejecting them for a myriad of reasons, should we set aside a half hour to tick them all off and give advice to the candidate? It would be nice to do so, but there are other priorities with a more definite and immediate return to consider, like the 100+ other open positions.

    “You would think that Corp Staffing or the elite “HRBP’” commandos would have gotten this down by now.”

    Why? I wouldn’t think so. A market snapshot will show winners and losers at any given point in time, but they change places over time. The ‘best practices’ of mega company A will stagnate and that’s why they eventually get surpassed by company B who becomes the new mega company. These are systems run by human beings and so are faulty by nature. Expecting them to have their crap together on all or even most levels just isn’t realistic. In my experience most succeed in spite of some very serious defects in management and processes. I say accept it and make changes where it matters. And I don’t see anything to gain in going above and beyond with people who are likely not going to make much of a difference in any future hires. Sure, that attitude might bite you the rear end, so might giving candidates too much feedback.

    I would LOVE if a service like Glassdoor were to actually work, like a credit/reputation report for companies that would actually make them FEEL the cost of shorting people. But the bottom line is they have the advantage in the balance of power for various reasons and we’re not going to get a service like that any time soon because most companies would sue it into limbo. And that’s what it comes down to. The advantage is ephemeral and on a long time horizon, so competing issues take priorty.

  16. Richard you are 100% on point! I’ve told candidates why they weren’t selected in the necest way possible and they want more information. They will then call back the next day for more clarification! When does it end and how much do we own them?

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