In the world of agency recruitment, the focus is always the same:
Selected Candidates + Clients = Placements = Commission
Nothing else matters.
And this has worked for us for many years. But increasingly we are seeing a neglected group becoming more vocal. Not only do they vent their frustrations online, but there are well-established review sites that encourage such feedback (think Glassdoor).
It could be about the 45 minutes wait at the lobby despite being early for the screening interview. Or the stupid questions that were fielded which discussed everything under the sun except the candidature of the applicant.
And they are coming fast and furious from the candidates that didn’t get placed.
According to leading employer branding specialist, Employer Brand International, employer reputation is a top consideration for job seeking talent. And it is so easy to find out more about the insides of an organisation, and not simply what they put in their brochure.
These aren’t just exclusive to corporates. Talent today have a huge variety of options when they wish to work with headhunters. They want to work with people whom they can trust — not just another recruiter desperate to hit the next commission tier within this week.
Improving the candidate experience
With hundreds of job applicants coming into any recruitment business, the probability of getting bad reviews is incredibly high. And you want to look at ways to deal with that at the initial touch-point — the application stage.
For a typical recruitment agency, it would not be practical to reply to every single job applicant given the limited number of hours every working day. But there are ways to make the process much more palatable for the applicants.
1. Decrease the number of unsuitable applicants
This doesn’t mean getting them to do a 2-page questionnaire and fill up a 5-page application from the beginning.
A simple mandatory question like ‘Why do you want to apply for this job?’ is good enough to eliminate a good percentage of applicants that just aren’t a good fit and hence won’t have anything decent to fill in for the answer.
I also came across a company that screened out candidates with a video interview request. As a candidate, you would have to sit through a structured video recording.
The intent is to capture your answers to a pre-defined list of questions.
The thing is many would not even move into this stage. If they are not really keen in the role, they would stop there and then.
This reduces the number of job applicants who would otherwise get rejected because they are just not well suited for the role.
2. Set up a separate email address with an auto responder
Many recruitment companies are still relying on the good old email address to receive job applications. You should have a separate email address just for résumé collection so you can turn on the auto-responder. And in your auto-responder, you could have a message like this:
Dear [First Name],
Thank you so much for your application.
We truly appreciate your decision to trust us in finding your next career and we will work hard to make that happen.
Our clients also entrust us to find the best talent for their openings and we do our best to fulfil that. That might result in us not able to bring your application further.
The reasons in doing this is two-fold:
- It acknowledges the candidate and let them know that you have received the application.
- You show appreciation in their application effort. Remember, there are thousands of jobs in the market. The candidate chose you over them. That is worth something.
3. Guide them on what to do next
In continuation to the auto responder:
Should your application not proceed from here, here are some things to explore:
- Run a diagnostic on your resume versus the job description using a tool such as JobScan.
- Have your résumé professionally reviewed and written by résumé writers such as [Insert names and hyperlinks of resume writers partners]
- Check out the career coaches we are working with: [insert names and hyperlinks of career coaches]
This part already pre-empts them on why the application didn’t progress from here. It sets a realistic expectation and further reduces candidate unhappiness when they didn’t get selected for the interview.
4. Give a timeline
You won’t be taking forever to fill a role. Make that obvious to the candidate too.
Set a deadline that you believe would, at least, move your mandate into the next phase. And that means you won’t need new applications anymore.
Since there are no late applicants, there would be zero chances of disappointments.
But what if you didn’t move into the next stage by the given deadline?
Well, just create another job ad with a new deadline. I can’t remember ever seeing an agency recruiter not posting an ad more than once over any roles.
You can spend more money on a better website and pay someone to update your social media page every hour. Ultimately candidates just want to get a job through us. And for those that we can’t help, the least we could do is to guide them on what to do next given our expertise in this business.
And in doing so, improve the application experience for candidates and add a bit of goodwill in the market.