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It's not the experience of the candidate that matters; it's the candidate experience!

Candidate Experience

Irony: it’s something that I have come to appreciate more and more over the last two years after receiving a call from an agency recruiter. This recruiter cold called me after having found my profile on LinkedIn and told me she had a job opportunity for me that she would like to talk to me about.

Having just completed a contract position and spending way too much time on the golf course, I firstly respected her tenacity in calling rather than emailing and figured she deserved the opportunity to pitch me the job. After all, I needed to pay the bills, and my golf handicap certainly wasn’t going to lead me to the pro tour any time soon.

What happened next though was one of the more startling and mystifying approaches I have ever heard of or experienced. You see, before telling me about the job itself, she thought it best to say to me that I was too senior for the role and that the salary was going to be below my expectations. YOU SAY WHAT?

In my experience, this kind of rhetoric is usually delivered to a candidate who has applied and then calls to ask why they haven’t been shortlisted or why they have been rejected. My scenario though, the recruiter called me! Knowing all she knew after seeing my LinkedIn profile and identifying me as a potential candidate, you have to wonder why she bothered calling at all.

My experience and salary had already ruled me out, even though I was headhunted for the role and seemingly appropriate enough to call. What would Alanis Morissette have to sing about that?

While this experience may not be all that common (I’m really hoping it’s not), the candidate experience is for me, the single most crucial component of the recruitment process that broadly as an industry, we are still not fully appreciating. It is one of the hottest topics right now, but how many agencies are genuinely measuring the candidate experience their consultants provide?

Interestingly after talking to thousands of candidates, it would seem very few. Many agencies I’ve spoken to globally, collect feedback, but it is very sporadic, manual, asked from the perspective of the agency, not the consultant who delivered the service and for the most part the questions are irrelevant. Worryingly, many agencies (not all), also only ask the candidates that they place in a job for feedback. Now call me crazy but shouldn’t these candidates be 100% happy?

The value of this feedback is ZERO, with every agency with this approach now of the belief that the candidate experience they provide is fantastic. Ignoring the many candidates who were not placed and their experience going unheard. The value of this data and the ability to impact performance improvement either at a business level or a targeted consultant level is gone.

This is like asking Donald Trump if he is the greatest American President of all time. You already know the answer, so why bother asking the question, vanity?

So why should we be focusing on the candidate experience as the most important factor in the recruitment process? In essence, we are all doing the same job, helping our clients find the best people to make their businesses better. Everyone has their approach to achieving this, but at the end of the day, the difference is minimal. Except when it comes to that of the candidate!

Let’s consider that a candidate is anyone who you shortlist and interview for a role. Hypothetically, on average four people for every job fit this bill, and for an agency of 10 consultants who have 50 open/active jobs currently, that’s 200 candidates that you are engaging with on a deeper level.

For example's sake, let’s take out one candidate for every role and put forward three candidates for every job to the client. We now have 150 candidates moving forward to a client interview. Each and every one of these candidates is now a representation of your business, not just of themselves. Furthermore, they are a representation of each and every consultant in your business as to their preparedness, skills and ability, attitude and readiness for the interview and role.

Should any of this above be off, that now reflects not only poorly on the candidate who no doubt will be rejected at this point, but now on the consultant working on the role and your company’s brand. These candidates will no doubt hold you, consultant and business, somewhat, if not solely accountable (rightly or wrongly). They may share this out in the market, to their friends, via social media, the impact this can have on your business and brand can be exponential.

An improved candidate experience can be directly correlated back to an improved consultant skill level and financial performance (here at Recruiter Insider, we have proven this). But only by measuring the experience provided by each individual consultant, right through the recruitment process and using this priceless data to help improve the candidate experience, can this be achieved.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and you certainly can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Who would've thought, it figures...

Contributor Justin Hillier. 
Justin Hillier is the Founder and CEO of Recruiter Insidera platform that enables agencies to gain greater transparency of the candidate and client experience being delivered by their consultants. 

Tagged With: Candidate Experience, Recruitment Industry, Recruitment Business Owner, Candidate, Candidate Feedback

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