Tag Archives: employer brand

The one with some candidate feedback

One thing has occurred to me of late. In all the discussions on the candidate experience very few people are actually speaking to candidates. Recruiters the world over are marvelling in their new found technology and boldly driving operational performance but without really listening to a key stakeholder in their endeavours.

Is this wrong? Well, it’s certainly not right and with all the talk, effort and money that goes into recruiting it does strike me as slightly odd. You can’t buy anything from most companies without some form of survey, e-mail follow up or request for feedback but try and ‘buy’ a job from the same people and they seemingly don’t really mind what you think.

So having been through the ‘pride swallowing siege’ I thought actually I would provide some feedback and given my background has included some significant work in recruiting that could actually form insight (maybe). I realise that in presenting my data that it is entirely subjective but if this stuff happened to me I imagine it’s happening to others.

If having read this you think I’m talking nonsense then that’s great – you are amongst the enlightened who have driven a focus on the candidate experience but if even one of these points resonates with you then I hope that helps you think about what you and your organisation do in the future.


a) With one exception these are not directed specifically at internal or external recruiters but both

b) This is a long post – get comfy, hope your train is delayed or read it in stages!

1. Bad news is better than no news

The deafening silence is dreadful and at worst an automated e-mail saying ‘you haven’t been successful’ is better than realising you haven’t progressed because a new millennium has dawned. Giving people bad news sucks (I know) but giving them no news is worse!

2. One Year to a recruiter is like Seven Years to a candidate

No I don’t think candidates are dogs! But you want candidates who are vested in your organisation and mustard keen to join. Don’t dampen that by making them wait weeks between communication/stages and making that enthusiasm wane to the point that they simply stop caring.

3. Feedback: if you give it, make it real

‘We have other candidates who more closely meet the brief’ and then the job is reposted everywhere within 48 hours. There are others and they DO happen. If you take the trouble to give a reason then make it a real one

4. Hurry Up & Wait Around

A phrase stolen from film making but remember how keen you are to get hold of the CV and the levers you pull to get the applicant….then nothing….nada. If set a tone of urgency – maintain it, or at least manage a slow down

5. Your Call is important to us

Whilst I loathe hold music at least it tells me my call is still connected and whilst it doesn’t endear me any further to the brand it certainly doesn’t put me off. Think about how you can keep assuring your candidate that their application is important to you and they are still involved in your process

6. Do what you say you’re going to do

“I’ll call you on Wednesday” not a difficult thing to do, or if Wednesday no longer fits not a difficult thing to reschedule. If you say you are going to do something JUST DO IT (The Nike Rule)

7. Money doesn’t grow on trees

To any candidate pursuing a role is likely coming out of their own pocket. Whether they are currently employed or not that money will not grow on trees and whilst you are trying to manage loads of diaries and managers please bear in mind that £40 train ticket costs, yes, £40 and if there are 4 stages which result in no job offer and at times no feedback then that does not reflect well on your organisation

8. Unicorns are fictional

Don’t try and recruit Unicorns – they don’t exist. If you’re an internal recruitment manager you need to push back more, if you’re an external consultant you need to challenge your client more.

9. Don’t confuse experience with ability

Yes we all love a good example of when someone has done something before and yes it’s a valid approach to part of your process but just because someone hasn’t done something before doesn’t mean they won’t be able to. If you rely solely on experience you may have a Unicorn problem!

10. Candidates will become customers

From my experience the candidate is NOT the customer (it’s a recruitment manager or a hiring manager) but whether you be a consultant and want to continue to recruit in this space or a company who sells its product or services just remember that at some point (and maybe already) your candidate is ALSO your customer

11. Ask them what they think and give them a route to whinge

Service improves for a variety of reasons but poor scores and negative feedback are amongst them. Try asking for some or at least giving your candidates a route to share some – with you rather than the rest of their network. I didn’t come across it but does anyone use a net promoter score for candidates? In this age of social referral surely ‘would you recommend us?’ is a powerful question to candidates.

12. Reputation is EVERYTHING

You know this – you’ve read so much stuff about EVP and employer brands but referral schemes always start with employees. What are your candidates saying to each other? How are you perceived in the market place? Your employees are already drinking the kool-aid, what about the potentials?

And finally the one that is specifically focussed at internal recruiters:

12a. Don’t vilify recruitment consultants

Like all service providers there are the good, the bad and the ugly. If you are working with the latter two categories –change. If you are lucky enough to work with people in the first category help them add value to your business, make them your partners and don’t slag them off at every given opportunity. There are some very good recruitment consultants operating out there and I have seen some that I can certainly learn some lessons from in various aspects of their process – maybe I’m not the only one.

Anyway, enough of the feedback/insight (for now). To all of the great people who I worked with during my job search, thank you very much and to the rest (and you probably don’t know who you are) I hope I’ve given you at least one piece of information to stimulate you doing something different

[I also wrote a rather tongue in cheek view of my perceptions of the candidate experience which you can find here]



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The one with the honest experience

Over recent weeks for some unknown (for that read completely known) reason I have been thinking a lot about the candidate experience. I was then provoked to share some thoughts when Lisa Scales at Tribepad formed a LinkedIn group to discuss the same topic and some interesting conversations are developing. You can find a link to the group here and ask nicely and I’m sure you’ll get an  invite.

The thing I keep coming back to is that in order to have any kind of meaningful conversation we need to start with the truth and that’s a difficult thing to find. Let’s face it everyone wants to present the idealised, nice polished version of their candidate experience and I’ve yet to go to conference where anyone stands up and says “we tried this but it failed” or “ours is a complete shocker”

With this in mind I started to think about how you could describe a typical (and for typical I accept the caveat that of course all of you amazing people have super candidate experiences) experience and put it in a form that would both allow and provoke discussion without it getting ummmm ‘handbag-y’. Then I talked to some friends both inside and outside recruitment and had more of a think.

So with tongue partially in cheek, here goes:

Stage 1: Attraction

At this stage you are likely offering something akin to either Miss Megan Fox or Mr Bradley Cooper. Shiny, beautifully groomed and desirable to most if not all of your target market. The only major thing likely to send your candidate running for the hills at this point is the secret code book or in plain english a job advert written in language that you need 5 years deep immersion in your organisation to understand, this will likely lead to an exit!!

Stage 2: Gaining Entry

At this point, to get anywhere near Miss Fox or Mr Cooper you need to get past the bouncer and donate a pint of blood (or complete 12 pages of questions, tick boxes and disclaimers on your ATS, having registered an account)

Stage 3: Getting the Nod

At this point you will either wait outside X-Ray for a mythical appointment and then be contacted by an over excited bundle of fun who is desperate to get you in front of their big brother (line manager), for the lucky few you may not have to go to X-Ray at all. For the unlucky few you may spend forever waiting outside x-ray

Stage 4: Selection

Depending on the level of the role, complexity of the process and investment in selection you will then be subjected to something akin to Robert De Niro in “Meets the Parents”. Hopefully this will be have been explained in advance and everything you are subjected to will have relevance to the process.

Stage 5: The Jury’s Verdict

So it get’s a bit tricky here…

Success may be the equivalent to a teenage boy on prom night – very excited, eager and keen to get on with it or a radio DJ managing a competition winner, wanting you to sound amazingly excited and coaxing answers out of you. Failure is the Grim Reaper – likely with as much chat (feedback) on why you’ve met your end. On either route you may experience tumbleweed for periods for 1 to n hours, where n is an integer between 1 and infinity (you may never hear)

Stage 6: Doing the Deal

Meet the Negotiator. This person (who may be the same person as the teenage on prom night, the over excited bundle of fun or the radio DJ) may now throw out a few hoops for you to jump through – previous payslips, signatures of 7 living grandparents, the certificate of authenticity for the previous submitted pint of blood, etc. It will then be about ensuring they get the ball in the hoop whilst trying to get you in the business. It may not be pleasant!

Stage 7: Onboarding

So you hop on board the plane, fill in a ream of Health & Safety policies, find out about the company history and get some form of tour. From there a myriad of 1 to 1 meetings with people who don’t really know what you are going to do, how it relates to them or actually why they were included on your induction plan

Stage 8: The Holy Grail

You finally make it. You finally get to have what you wanted all along. BUT and there has to be a but, thanks to the haste and the chinese whispers of the recruiting process, the changes that have occurred in the organisation during the process and the different interpretations put on the role through the process – your job is not Bradley Cooper or Megan Fox rather Ralph Fiennes or Zooey Deschanel. Not to say they are bad jobs, they look very much like the ones you first saw but they are just subtly different….

Random Stage: May Occur at any time

Let’s face it you are not the only employer out there, the rigours of the process may seem too much, the silence may be deafening or any number of things that you have no control over may happen. Probably worth bearing in mind that your candidate (or customer? or is that the line manager?) has the opportunity at any point to head for the exit… but don’t worry it’s not like they could be a consumer of your brand, user of your service, stakeholder in your future is it?

As I said at the top, of course your process isn’t anything like this…but somebody’s is….trust me!


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The one with the brands

As I make my merry way around the recruiters who may be kind enough to peddle my wares to their clients, I am asked, regularly, who I would like to work for? Now, most questions I get asked have a ready (if not, at times overly long) answer, however this question leaves me scratching my head/stroking my chin/looking dopey [depending on the day] as I have very little idea how to go about answering the question.

At an event hosted by Reconverse in November the recruitment website reed.co.uk presented some data from a survey they had conducted. The survey asked amongst other things, which employer would you most like to work for. The survey received over 2000 respondents, who had no problem answering the question and the top 10 are listed below:

1. Virgin

2. Apple

3. Google

4. NHS

5. BBC

6. John Lewis

7. Barclays

8. PWC

9. BP

10. Coca-Cola

[Source: Reed.co.uk via @Reconverse, original recording can be found here]

I don’t know a lot about recruitment websites but I would imagine given reed.co.uk’s roots in High Street employment agencies the demographics of the sample would be interesting to understand but that was the Top 10 of their brand index as they termed it.

I must admit when I first heard the list there were some that were no surprise i.e. Apple & Google. These companies have managed to create a sense in the market that working for them would be more like a spiritual experience than a job and good luck to them. John Lewis being included was a dead cert both for their partnership model but also because of favourable TV coverage this year about working there.

Some, however, took me a little more by surprise…. Yes, the NHS (in fact if you listen to the transcript of the session someone loudly exclaims “why?” after they are announced) and I must confess I was a little bemused at their inclusion but the NHS brings an interesting point as like Virgin that’s a catch-all for numerous different organisations – the NHS does not have one amorphous culture, leadership style, operating model etc likewise I’m sure that working at Virgin Cosmetics in Chichester is very different to working for Virgin Atlantic all of which lead me to a thought:

Do people want to work for the companies (or brands) they admire as consumers?

Coca-Cola, Virgin, Apple, Google, John Lewis and possibly the BBC are all well-respected consumer brands that I would imagine score very highly in their consumer brand relationships so are people answering the question based on their affection for their iPhone, the dreams of Virgin Upper or the simplicity of the Google search page?

Part of the reason I think I struggle with answering the question is that what I do/have done in organisations is often very little to do with consumer perception. The information that would make me able to answer the question is very often NOT in the public domain. Which brand wants to admit it has a deficiency in its leadership? Which brand wants to talk about a need to refocus its culture? Which brand wants to admit it has an inadequate succession plan?

The companies that interest me (and let’s face it are interested in me) are those that are at transformational stages of their life, have identified change agendas and the will (for that read resources) to want to do something about that in the people arena. Whether I love my iPhone has got very little to do with any of that but saying that I have been fortunate enough to experience Virgin Upper Class and any job that involves that on a regular basis – I’m in!

So, another question unanswered but if you have any views you’d like to share I’d be really interested to hear them as this was just my gut reaction to hearing the list and I may be very very wrong (but would be loath to admit it!)


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