You Are the Missing Link From Your Recruitment Process

PA130149Here are two scenarios to ponder:

  1. You walk in to a car dealership that doesn’t have any salespeople on staff. No one is available to answer your questions. No one will describe the features and benefits of the cars. The only person there is a 17-year-old kid working at a cash register. Test driving is prohibited. If you want the car, you simply buy it … like a pack of gum.
  2. You are interested in buying a certain house and there is no real estate agent or home owner available. You are told that the process involves first making an offer without the opportunity to see the interior or take a tour. After you make an offer, then you can enter the home.

The reason why these scenarios seem funny is because when making a big decision, information gathering is critical. In these situations people need information, reassurance, and probably even some hand-holding to feel comfortable.

And, for big decisions, it’s helpful to gather information from another human being (i.e.: car salesperson or real estate agent, etc). We want that personal connection to help guide us and answer our questions.

For most people, finding a new job is another big life decision.

If the human connection is so important, then why do many companies take the cash register approach regarding their talent acquisition strategy?

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These companies:

  • Require that candidates submit their resume online as the first point of contact.
  • Offer no personal contact for a potential candidate to ask questions.
  • Will not allow for a site visit until a candidate is already at a final interview stage.
  • Never respond to candidates emails or phone calls
  • Do not list a contact person on job postings

All of this builds to our questions of the day:

  1. How can a candidate be genuinely interested in an open position without having an opportunity to fully research your organization?
  2. How can you possibly attract top talent if you don’t offer a real person to serve as a recruitment contact?

Don’t treat your recruitment process like that car dealership with a cash register. Rather, incorporate your recruitment staff in the front end of your process to fill your funnel with enthusiastic candidates.

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28 Comments on “You Are the Missing Link From Your Recruitment Process

  1. In principle this is a fantastic idea, especially as the internet has evolved to be able to support more “human” interactions instead of just email. However it always comes down to bandwidth – especially in small to mid-size companies companies there is not always an individual who is dedicated purely to recruitment and candidate facing activities, rather employees that always have a lot more on their plate.

    The decline in up-front human interactions in the recruiting process is in part due to the automation of recruiting processes but also in part due to the sheer volume of candidates that are coming through the doors today. As more companies moved to partially automate recruiting, they discovered that one person could process more candidates than before and staff was reduced accordingly. It is true, less people can process more candidates, but only if they adhere to the mechanical processes included in the automation software. In order to effectively address this weak link, recruiting automation will need to re-evaluate the importance of the “softer” steps in the process and work to include them in the next generation of tools.

  2. In the end this is all still a very human process. People hire People. No amount of technology can replace that. Companies need to “humanize” themselves and stop being faceless corporations. At Jobs in Pods, we’re trying to do that, one podcast at a time.

    http://jobsinpods.com

  3. Brian:

    I enjoyed reading your article because it touched on an important element which is the importance of human relationships. In our wild pursuit of “profits” we should never forget that without sellers and buyers, products and services will not be sold. In essence, everyone has value and undermining someone’s capabilities is not only wrong, it’s destructive to society.

    As we continue to hear about high unemployment and this “Great Recession”, I have to remind myself that 90% of eligible people are working in the US. In addition, there are many unemployed folks with talent, skills and ability. I’ve read many articles/post that suggest that there are only a select few people who possess the necessary talent to produce and unfortunately the rest are on a one way journey to doomsday.

    Putting profits first, have we devalued our society to the point that we suggest that our citizens are worthless? Really? I reject this line of thinking because it is a lie. Whatever happened to collaboration, hard work, faith and trust? Isn’t this part of the foundation of the US? Yes innovation is important and we must be willing to change. One of the biggest question on my mind is how do we get folks to believe again? Should we direct them to a website with flashy videos, a message board and “the magical button”?

    I’ll presume part of the answer rest within our ability to have faith and trust in one another i.e. relationships. I for one believe in the American worker and their power to persevere. I have faith that we will fight our way through this. Look, a machine can only go so far. In fact, I would argue that machines are tools to improve productivity but can not replace the human touch. Thanks Brian for sharing this article.

  4. This is an interesting post and one that in part is right. The best approach to giving the candidate all the information they need before applying and a sense of what it is like to work in the organisation, is to create a comprehensive Careers Site with real information on the job and the working environment.

    As well as including videos from real employees talking about their job and what it’s like to work at the company and also present any relevant employment benefits, this is in a sense providing an “online” salesman. With the volumes of roles and candidates applying that most large organisations have to deal with, a model like the Car Sales or Real Estate Agent would just not work.

  5. Moving into a new role is one of the top five stressors a person can encounter. Helping a candidate tranision is an art that takes Recruiters many years to hone. We have developed a technolgy that helps companies interface more smoothy and with more transparency. The product enhances credibility and engagement with candidates. It is a product I would not recommend for new or transactional recruiters. We are leasing the patent pending technology to corporate sites and offer memberships to interface with our user community. http://www.bigdoghub.com

  6. Very simple answer to this at least for me. 90% of the candidates that I hire for my organization are sourced by me usually through referrals. They get the full, free agent treatment and access that they need to make an informed decision whether my organization is the right fit for their future.

    I don’t have time to make myself available to answer questions for the mortgage broker who happens to have an engineering degree and wants to be a program manager with a requirement of ten years of applicable experience.

    You see probably 80% of candidates that submit resumes for my needs are not qualified. Listing my contact information on a job posting would be stupid for the reasons listed above. Our website is pretty comprehensive and informative and there is also plenty of branding information out there for potential candidates to learn about my company.

    This topic has been discussed ad nauseum. Most companies do not have the resources to make sure that ever candidate who hits the apply button is treated like the golden candidate where every whim of theirs is catered to.

  7. Carly,

    While I agree with you that technology plays an integral role in business, I strongly disagree that it can replace the value of the human touch. Technology has its place and it’s not human. I understand that a great career page is a wonderful marketing tool which can help attract people to apply for jobs. However, for the sake of argument I’ll ask the following questions with all due respect:

    What method does a company use to attract a passive candidate to their “flashy” career site when they are not looking for a job especially if the company does not have a skilled recruiting team to lead the charge?

    If your recruiting in a rural area for a specialized position or a demanding hiring manager in which, there are few candidates in the market how will a flashy web site draw people in? AND Who will put the strategic plan together to figure out how to find these people?

    Is it really the best strategy to a place a recruiter in the role of managing the masses of unqualified resume hoping to get one good candidate “especially if” technological tools can now replace many recruiters?

    My experience has taught me that technology does indeed work when it is leveraged appropriately. But sometimes, no matter how many times you post an ad on the internet or paper, sometimes this strategy does not work. When that happens you have to reach out and recruit people.

    People do not always jump ship because of a flashy video or some shiny webpage. I would even argue that some people do not trust their information floating in net space.

    In the end, we are talking about real lives. The “magical button” is great but history is teaching us that there is power in human interaction. I am amazed at the number of networking events that take place in Chicago. People still like to connect.

  8. A keyword in this discussion is “Appropriate”. Hiring takes place across a huge range of roles and expectations.

    At one end, potential workers stand outside the Home Depot and you roll by and select a few by pointing at them. On the other end, it’s a five-year seduction involving Jets and things that stay in Vegas.

    Your spot in an organization could be anywhere in-between. You need to find the ballpark where the expectations of your stakeholders line-up- it depends on the industry, culture, economic cycle, fashion, and individual taste. Sometimes a web-only ATS intake is OK, other times it’s a mess. Sometimes not getting back to candidates is OK, and sometimes it’s rude and denigrates your real-world brand.

    One thing that almost everyone can do to improve unfolding, unstructured experiences is to be as explicit as possible about process and mutual expectations. Good upfront communications stretch the range of acceptable options in many cases.

  9. Great article, Brian!

    If this topic has been discussed ad nauseum as John Coelho mentions, it is because it bears repeating. It needs to be hammered home again and again to alert companies that the status quo is unacceptable. If a John does not have the time to service candidates, SOMEONE (not an auto-reply or website) at the company should always be available. Don’t have the bandwith? Then limit the requirements of candidates you announce in your job descriptions. This process cannot be all about the company.

    I know first hand that at least 40% of all employees daily spend time on unecessary internal business. They simply look busy. If, for example, one corporate meeting is cut from the daily schedule, 5 more man hours could be dedicated to improving the company’s external face. That face can look healthier by re-directing efforts towards promoting personal contact with applicants. There is always plenty of time when something is considered important.

    This relates to my own recent article (published here Sept. 22). So many companies offer the impersonal touch and rely on their websites to sell for them. This is a big mistake and does not go unoticed Hiring is about PEOPLE – and people need people to complete the cycle.

  10. Your article really points to the issue of quality in the recruitment process. We see this in both the temporary and RPO sides of our business. On the temporary side, the rise of VMS automation and vendor neutral programs tends to create barriers if human interaction (i.e. direct contact with hiring mangers, vendors screening candidates before submittal) is not included in the program. On the RPO side, while applicant tracking systems are critical to the process, how a company uses the recruitment process to start building an employment brand is largely dependent on human factors, not the automation. On a similar note, that’s part of the reason that many job postings fall flat and get no response; they are electronically scraped from a poorly written job description without any human interaction. Not a great start to the recruitment process.

    -Matt Rivera, Blogger, http://www.theseamlessworkforce.com

  11. If a company has the resources to appoint a person to handle what you propose then great! I support a 3,000 person division by myself. No sourcer, no coordinator, no admin. Doesn’t work for me.

  12. Hmmm. Has it never occurred to companies with large numbers of applicants who might “fall through the cracks” to hire a virtual assistant for $700/mo. just to make sure no one slips through and everyone has a professionally-handled (if not actually pleasant) hiring experience? Unfortunately, I believe it’s because it really isn’t that important to “the powers that be”- THEY were probably very well treated in their hiring (“a five-year seduction involving jets and things that stay in Vegas”), and if they weren’t they probably believe it to be a sort of trial-by-fire initiation.

    I have not heard of any positive or negative reinforcements for well-treating or not poorly-treating average candidates, and I don’t expect to for some time… On the other hand, I can cite stories like that of the candidate who received a letter with some typos in it who happened to know the company’s founder. I understand that the recruiter was summarily dismissed without warning.

    I can think of a fairly recent round of interviews with a major company not famous for its good treatment of people. I was incredibly well-handled and treated, and I sing their praises. I can think of another company that has a reputation of being a wonderful place for its people, and yet it’s an open secret that their interview process is a major dysfunction, their hiring criteria are discriminatory, and many candidates are treated like dirt.

    My suggestion: try and treat people as you’d like to be treated,but don’t expect that you’ll be treated with the same courtesy.

    Cheers,
    Keith H

  13. Brian- Thanks for the great article…. The San Diego Chargers “fired” one of there 3 MILLION a year defensive players (Clinton Hart) for lackluster results.

    The days of keeping people on board because he/she is a nice guy/gal are over…

    Part of the recruitment process that 3rd party search firms/headhunters do so well, is they take care of there clients/candidates, because they realize without doing so, would mean no revenue, and no revenue equals…..”your out of business”…. (HINT: CORP AMERICA you are nothing without your employees, so take care of them!)

    GREAT comment by all..

    Thanks again Brian..

    Brian-
    http://www.johnstonsearch.com/about.php

    PS I stay up until late hours (after I tuck my wife/kids in bed) of the night responding to every single email, facebook, twitter, youtube, blog inquiry etc… Why? It not about ME it’s about THEM (Service!)

  14. Heidi, I hope I did not give you the impression that Recruiters are not required, as this is certainly not what I was trying to say. Recruiters are specialists in what they do and a valuable part of the engagement process.

    However they cannot spend their time answering every potential candidate’s questions in relation to the role, environment and organisation before the candidate even submits their CV. This is what Brian’s original blog was about what we are commenting on.

    The technology provides a tool to convey information to the candidate so they can make an informed decision about whether the opportunity is right for them and whether they want to apply for it. Once they submit their application technology once again can refine the candidates by skills and experience required etc, and give the Recruiter a shortlist of suitable candidates that they can manage.

    This is where their role is important in assessing these applicants for suitability to the role, environment and organisation, and managing the relationship with the candidate. The methods used to attract candidates to the website in the first place are the sources that come from the strategy that has been defined for the organisation. This is more often than not something that is managed by the Attraction or Resourcing Manager and not the individual Recruiters.

    I agree with you that technology needs to be managed and leverage correctly and in no way did I imply that there was no need for Recruiters or Sourcing Specialists.

  15. However they cannot spend their time answering every potential candidate’s questions in relation to the role, environment and organisation before the candidate even submits their CV. This is what Brian’s original blog was about what we are commenting on.

    The technology provides a tool to convey information to the candidate so they can make an informed decision about whether the opportunity is right for them and whether they want to apply for it. Once they submit their application technology once again can refine the candidates by skills and experience required etc, and give the Recruiter a shortlist of suitable candidates that they can manage.

    This is where their role is important in assessing these applicants for suitability to the role, environment and organisation, and managing the relationship with the candidate. The methods used to attract candidates to the website in the first place are the sources that come from the strategy that has been defined for the organisation. This is more often than not something that is managed by the Attraction or Resourcing Manager and not the individual Recruiters.
    seo

  16. Carly:

    Thanks for the clarifying and I respect your point of view however, what I read into this article maybe different than what you saw. I believe you and I see recruiting differently.

    “However they cannot spend their time answering every potential candidate’s questions in relation to the role, environment and organization before the candidate even submits their CV”

    You are setting limitations on what a recruiter can and can’t do and I do not agree with you. Recruiting is about relationships and technology should be viewed as a tool that leverages relationships. If I understand you correctly, what you are saying is that technology plays a key role in engaging the candidate, sorting the candidates once they hit the apply button and then Technology provides a list of vetted candidates that the recruiter can select from to move the process forward.

    This sound nice but, having high volume and Executive recruiting experience I feel this is a blanket statement that needs further exploration because a) every position is different so your strategy has to be unique to that position; b) In some cases, you can’t pay people to apply for a job due to region, location, state requirement and company reputation c) good recruiter reach out to candidates through the relationships they’ve built with their sources d) good recruiters source candidates through multiple channels and then manage the process.

    The best recruiting strategy that I know requires a recruiter to pursue people because this is and always will be a people business. I would argue that a good function drives the engagement process before the candidate hits the apply button. This is a proactive strategy and part of the relationship building, sales and trust that a good recruiter establishes with candidates.

  17. Your post has a lot of merit, but suffers from the same faults that lie between any theory and the reality of trying to implement that in practice. Sheer volume alone would prevent such a way of recruiting. How could any one 9or two, or three, or four) recruiters possibily handle the volume of phone calls from every person who had an interest in applying for a job? Multiply that by the number of openings a company has at any given time, and you see the issue becomes exponentially worse. So, from the standpoint of initial contact with the company, submission online makes perfect sense. It also helps tremendously in what is now a very system intensive process.

    Now, from the standpoint of personal contact and onsite interviews, viable candidates absolutely need to have human interaction, beginning with the recruiter. A quick phone screen to establish a depth and breadth of experience, motivations for leaving current employer, cultural fit discussions, and a short salary discussion. From there, the candidate should be brought in for face-to-face interviews at the facility.

    For the remainder of candidates, who through initial resume screening are discounted as potentials, I’m sorry, but email and/or US mail correspondence is enough. We as recruiters barely have enough time to effectively handle qualified candidates, let alone babysit the wannabes.

    Bob

  18. BOB- Your comment referring to another human being as “wannabes” is utterly disgraceful.. I pity the people who have to “share this world” with you…

    I hope you are man enough to take back that comment…

    Brian-

  19. You gave an example:
    “You are interested in buying a certain house and there is no real estate agent or home owner available. You are told that the process involves first making an offer without the opportunity to see the interior or take a tour. After you make an offer, then you can enter the home.”

    I laughed when I read this because you were putting it out there as an unusual example. In reality it’s not so far fetched…let me explain.

    Once upon a time I sold small businesses (22 years worth!) in that long term I met very few sellers who were not inordinately concerned about the “confidentiality” of their businesses. As a practitioner it’s easy to look at the bunch of them and think they’re being too sensitive and fall impatient w/ their, what feels to us, overly protective worrying over their data.

    Many a time I had to first meet with a buyer, learn about the buyer’s ability to buy the business I had for sale (they’d fill out not only a Confidentiality Agreement but also a Personal Financial Statement that revealed their “ability” to purchase the business) all before I could even reveal the NAME of the business to them. Talk about jumping through hoops!

    But there was a good reason behind the caution and that was to satisfy my client’s need for confidentiality – which is real and exists. That need also covered, (as best as the process could ensure) exposing my client to the “Lookie-Lou’s” of the business – you know the type. They make it a hobby to be looking to “buy a business” so on the weekends at the country club or the cocktail party they’re attending they can blab the details of other peoples’ businesses while chomping on their cigars and holding their martini glasses aloft.

    I’m not kidding and maybe it’s hard-boiled and not so pleasant to look at things like this but it’s the truth. I’m woman enough to recognize the wannabes in this world and that ability only came through getting my brains beat out through hard-won experience mostly because of lots and lots of time wasted. Maybe there’s some of this impacting the staffing department experience that’s being so complained about in this string. I say let’s look at their side of the equation some more.

    I’ve written about a few of my experiences here:
    http://www.fordyceletter.com/2007/09/01/thinking-about-selling-your-recruiting-business/

    and here:
    http://www.fordyceletter.com/2008/03/01/sellingbuying-businesses-watch-out-for-these-jokers/

    They’re all true.

  20. Hey Maureen:

    You bring up a valid point confidential recruitment quite often requires direct sourcing and if you’re a recruiter who’s primary role is to manage the 1000’s of resume on the ATS good luck 🙁 We all know how blind ads work right? 🙂

    Bob:

    Your right if you are functioning with a skeleton crew it’s difficult to provide quality service especially in a national multi-unit environment. Again one size does not fit all. I will agree many companies integrate this strategy- it’s a reactive approach. Ultimately, it boils down to structure and where the company places its value on talent acquisition.

    I am a staunch advocate for diverse recruitment strategies. I’ve learned that the best way to identify the most viable recruitment solutions is to look at the big picture in order to understand your recruiting infrastructure and then develop a strategy that delivers. This means every stakeholder must be involved.

  21. Brian–

    Great article! One my favorite lines which I repeated frequently to my hiring managers was: “treat your candidates like customers”. Recruiting is sales–and people don’t forget. The companies that will succeed when the market picks up are those who have treated their candidates with respect.

    I applied for a position with DaVita and I can totally understand why they won Recruiting Dept of the year. Throughout the recruiting process they treated me with respect and did call me when they said they would.(amazing!) I didn’t get the job but that was OK….I am a fan and will speak highly of them–helping their employment brand!

  22. These are good comments…. We care how we’re treated, and want to treat others well, too.
    What can we do to influence things in a bigger way, and not just one candidate at at time?

    -kh

  23. Brian your post gave my daily irony allowance.

    You pound Bob for a little dehumanizing shorthand from the trenches, and then advise him that the cure is acting out a harmful gender stereotype (being a Man about it), as if manhood and clean honor equals strengh….werd that the strongest people that I know mostly seem to be female….

    Heidi you are closest to the core of this (different folks need different strokes)- social class that is….because the customs and manners of one’s class must be adhered to, and that’s what we are really talking about here.

    The middle class is going south, and this kind of thing is just another echo…. dignity and respect are not cheap- are slightly lower profits worth it ?

  24. Martin- Thanks for the note.. I wanted to educate you on the definition of “man”.

    MAN: The human individual as representing the species, without reference to sex; the human race; humankind

    Bob: I HOPE you are “human” enough to take back your comment..

    I will let the community judge your assesment of my comment…

    Have a great weekend ALL…
    Brian-

  25. Brian, here is some pertinent education with actual real-world effect you can take to the bank-

    “The lower court found that Prowel’s claims were based upon sexual orientation – not a viable claim under Title VII – and dismissed the suit. On appeal, the Third Circuit reversed, finding that Title VII does not bar a homosexual man from bring a gender stereotyping claim under the Act, since such a claim is “because of” the plaintiff’s sex, a type of discrimination barred by law.

    The Third Circuit pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), in which a female was denied a promotion because she failed to conform to gender stereotypes. Hopkins used profanity, was not “charming,” and did not walk, talk, or dress in a feminine manner. The Supreme Court found that when an employer acts on a belief that a woman cannot be aggressive, it has discriminated “because of sex” and has violated Title VII.

    Similarly, the evidence set forth by Prowel indicates that he was harassed and treated differently because he did not conform to his co-workers’ vision of how a “man” should look, speak, or act. Therefore, Prowel marshaled enough evidence to argue that his harassment was based on gender stereotypes, even if part of the harassment was based on his sexual orientation.

    The line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination “because of sex” can be difficult to draw. Under Title VII, an unlawful employment practice is established when the plaintiff demonstrates that sex was one of the motivating factors for discrimination, even if other factors – including harassment based on sexual preference – also motivated the same actions.

    Employers should be aware of this decision, and should understand that while sexual orientation is not yet included as a protected category under federal law (although it is protected under some state statutes), gender stereotyping is a very closely related cause of action”

  26. Brian Kevin Johnson: Thank you for pointing out that I have offended your sensitivity by using the term “wannabe” in my post. For that I apologize.

    For the record, a few points:

    1) At approximately 2 PM PST on Friday, I called your office to address the issue with you personally as opposed to here in the blog. Rather than let this issue linger until we can talk, I felt it best I post a retort here. The message I left includes an offer to discuss further by phone, and I left my number. That offer stands.

    2) As mentioned earlier by another poster, my comments come directly from “the trenches”, a place that I, and many of my recruiting bretheren, live and breathe daily. I happen to feel that I’m entitled to that level of candor and directness amongst my peers, in a forum specific to the recuiting industry. Was the comment off color? Obviously it was, as you took issue with it. Frankly, it’s not worthy of a blanket apology, so none will be given. It’s nothing but a tempest in a teacup.

    3) I’ve never minced words within this community, and when I’m wrong about something, I freely admit it. With that said, I stand by every word in my post, as I consistently have over the years. What I am “man enough” and “human enough” to do is to have the backbone to stand by my position on an issue, regarldess of whether that position is politically incorrect or otherwise unpopular.

    Thanks again for bringing this to my attention, and I certanly hope that if nothing else, we can find common ground and agree to disagree.

    Respectfully,

    Bob

  27. Bob- Thanks for reaching out, and I will most certainly call you back to discuss the exchange.

    Clearly you have “passion” surrounding recruiting, and I admire that trait in you and many others in this community!

    Have a great weekend..

    Best,
    Brian-

  28. Bob Wilson- Thanks for taking the time to talk today.. I really appreciate the fact that two people can talk live and discuss things (differences) professionaly…

    From my view the call was very productive, so much that I sent you an invite on linkedin, so we can stay connected..

    Best to ALL…

    Brian-

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