We’ve all seen it before—candidates shaming recruiters on public forums such as social media or blogs. It can be rough out there, especially as we move into a candidate’s market. No longer will impersonal mass emails and vague phone calls cut it. It’s up to recruiters to step up their game and ensure they’re trained up to interact with job seekers the best way they can.
Whether you’re in an agency setting, freelancing, or working in corporate, there are plenty of ways you can improve your communications so you’re not turning off candidates. Building an exceptional candidate experience from beginning to end is important—not only to close the deal on a new hire, but also to protect your company’s (and your own) reputation.
So, what are the things candidates despise, and how can you fix them?
MASS & IMPERSONAL EMAILS
I know using a Boolean search is a typical process for recruiting, but getting lazy and mass emailing (or calling) anyone who shows up in the search results is not the way to go. Yes, sometimes people have outdated resumes and may have been a fit a year or two ago, but there are definitely cases where keywords have pulled up people who have zero relation to the job. Don’t be that person who sends a message about the Senior Electrical Engineering opening to someone who’s been an English teacher all their life.
The next issue focuses on the stuffy, cold emails that people send (full disclosure: I’ve been guilty of this in the past). It used to be mostly engineers/techies who would be peeved by this, but now I think the majority of people would just appreciate an email from an actual human to break up the sea of spam. You don’t need to get crazy with your personalization—a little goes a long way! Simple things you can do is include their name, call out specific experiences from their resume/LinkedIn profile, and mention which skills would fit nicely with what the role calls for. Don’t bog them down with job descriptions or only talk about what YOU need. Make it about them.
Or, if you’re feeling especially crafty, you can do what this guy did. It might have taken a year for a response, but at least it was a positive one!
ZERO UNDERSTANDING OF THE ROLE & UNINFORMATIVE PHONE CALLS
Sometimes clients/hiring managers throw you a req and note that this person needed to be hired, like, yesterday. A natural reaction would be to get the job description, do your searches, and get people on the phone ASAP. After all, time is of the essence and it takes some time to get a solid pipeline of qualified and interested candidates. Unfortunately, this can cut into the time you have to research about the role and talent market and leave you with less education on the role than you need to hold a valuable conversation with a candidate.
Not knowing acceptable compensation rates or how to answer general questions about duties can make you lose your cred pretty quickly. Take the time to do the extra research before making outreach. Talk to the hiring manager or team members to get a better understanding of the role, duties, and what qualities would make a candidate successful. Get a feel for the team culture and be able to speak to that. Understand the expectations and make sure you’re not wasting candidates’ time if their compensation is way different than what’s budgeted for this. Being able to provide more insight into the role and team will go a long way with a candidate.
BEING OVERLY SALESY
I understand that recruiting does have some similar processes to sales. You cold call or reach out to warm leads, you have a discovery conversation, you demo (aka interview), and you (hopefully) get them to sign on the dotted line if all is a fit. Maybe the process seems to be the same, but recruiting should be about the people. You may change someone’s life— hopefully for the better—by showing them how this role and company is perfect for them. That said, you shouldn’t muck it up by being overly pushy and flashy, or by trying to convince someone to take a role they said they’re not sure about or uninterested in.
Making a career change is a big deal. It can affect someone’s professional goals, it could affect their family, and it can affect their financial well-being. Wouldn’t you feel better if this person made an informed decision?
The best thing you can do is keep it real when you’re talking about the role and company. The job and company culture might be awesome, but don’t forget to mention the challenges and not-so-pretty things that a person could experience. Give them as much information as possible. Share resources for them to research. Ultimately, let them decide if something is a deal breaker for them rather than hiding that fact and letting them discover it after starting. Otherwise, you’ll probably be looking to backfill them a couple months down the line.
FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH
You’ve worked hard to get a candidate to call you back and now you’ve got them on the hook and in the interview process. That doesn’t mean your job ends. In fact, many candidates turn to recruiters for advice, insight, and updates. It’s not fun when you want to prep for success but can’t get the information you need. And nothing’s worse than waiting to hear feedback and next steps after an interview and not getting any response from the recruiter.
To build a strong candidate experience, make the time to become that trusted advisor during the interview process. Give them tips on how to dress and present themselves. Inform them of any questions they should prepare examples for. Get back to them in a timely matter, even if you don’t have an update for them. Just a simple response can make a big difference in whether a candidate moves on or stays put.
These simple suggestions are quick fixes to your recruiting process that many candidates will appreciate. Taking the time to add a human element back into the recruiting process can improve relationships and the candidate experience, resulting in better hires and better referrals.
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