Wednesday, January 27, 2010


There are many things about recruitment that I am passionate about, not least having the opportunity to work with some excellent clients and candidates that are both a joy to work with as well as setting me challenges in my everyday workload.

But if there is one thing that REALLY gets me going it's this.

It's the subject of FEEDBACK in the recruitment process and the need for educating some of our clients that I want to focus upon here. It's rather stating the obvious to say that feedback and the overall process are intwined and inseparable. Or at least they should be. My issue is post candidate presentation or interview , the hiring company failing to feedback in good time or to an acceptable standard - or at times receiving no feedback at all. This I find is a more frequent "blocker" in the process than almost anything else and where one can frequently and unnecessarily spend time and energy chasing clients.

Today, get this (it truly takes some beating!) whilst chasing and leaving messages for clients for feedback on my candidate's final interview, I am spending some time on linkedin, researching some bio's etc. I come across a guy who has only a day ago updated his profile and announcing he is doing the job my candidate still thinks they might be in the running for. Amazing don't you think?

Sure, of course I'm a little sore and peeved that my candidate had not landed the job and that a fee would not be forthcoming, but it cuts a little deeper than that. How would my candidate view this if they had seen it first - and what then would be their impression of me and my client? The fact that my candidate had a chance of finding out they had not landed a job via a social networking site beggars belief.

A plea to clients. Don't behave like this. Even if it is not deliberate or a simple case of arrogance, then ensure you set up processes that avoid this kind of event at all costs. This type of example really brings the entire recruitment process and those who work within it either directly or indirectly into disrepute, as well as demonstrating a complete lack of care and respect for the candidate. Truly appalling.

So what do we do? We all need to have strong, occasionally uncomfortable conversations with our clients even if it may sometimes result in them becoming ex clients. Because if they don't embrace the value that is derived from feedback and demonstrate the courtesy that they would expect from others, then they are not deserving of working with the best recruiters in their particular field. Let them deal with the cowboys and see what they get.

I'm sure I'm not on my own in having this frustration. I'd love to hear from other recruiters as well as HR Professionals out there who have a take on this.

In the meantime, five pointers of my own that may help others in a similar situation when chasing for feedback and raising the issue with your clients:

1) REPUTATION - Every interview and piece of feedback is a time that you can build or diminish a reputation. Truly, candidates WILL judge your clients on this and then tell their friends! REMIND THEM OF THIS EVERY SINGLE TIME there is a delay in the process.

2) IMPRESSION - Candidates are not only talking to and interviewing with one employer in most instances. There is a strong probability that your candidate will accept an offer from a company that treats them with respect during the process and gives them a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE. It sets the scene for how they will be treated once they actually start work.

3) EMPATHY - Ask your clients to put themselves into the candidate's shoes. It's a reasonable assumption that they were once a candidate too. If they would not find poor feedback acceptable as a candidate then neither should it apply when they hold a position of authority and responsibility in hiring.

4) ESCALATE - Speak to someone more senior in the hiring organisation. This strategy is arguably the riskiest, depending on your existing relationship, but sometimes necessary. It may even have the added benefit of the issue of feedback being taken much more seriously if the MD is personally involved! Sometimes there is a need to stress in no uncertain terms that the reputation of both the recruiter and hiring company is at stake as well as your integrity.

5) HONESTY - The candidate is the King pin here. Ultimately the client wants to hire the best person and the recruiter wants to help and place their candidate. That makes them "business critical" in every sense so whatever you do, be straight with them during the process, even if it's a telephone call to let them know there has been a hold up and what you are doing to overcome any blockage.

I guess the subject of feedback has always been a hot topic but I would argue that the occasions where feedback is lacking or generally slow appears more prevalent in these testing times. Do hiring companies think the position of power has shifted to such an extent that it matters less to them now? Or perhaps they have other internal pressures against a backdrop of global recession that it's just unfortunate that feedback to candidates takes a lower priority in the pecking order?

Based on the many excellent clients that I work with I personally think that by and large it's not intentional and other work load gets in the way. The instances of people finding out they have not got the job via linkedin are thankfully few and far between! But it remains that it is incumbent upon recruiters out there to keep educating and reminding our clients of their responsibilities.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Social networking - Have a strategy!

Recruitment consultants. Don't you just love em'?
Along with a number of other professions, a significant number of them have always acted in a roguish manner and are arguably responsible for the reputation that we all "enjoy" today. You reap what you sew and all that. Since time began there has been a recognition of sharp practice. Now from many, it's a knee jerk leap into social networking as the one big answer to the recession.

It's been a head long rush into social networking, be it linkedin, twitter and any number of other "must haves" in a way the biggest children's toy at Christmas gets hyped to the rafters by the media and retailers. There is almost a whiff of paranoia from some recruiters who are in fear of being left behind and are moving into this space with absolutely no strategy or forethought.

A blind panic into the minefield of social networking seems fraught with dangers. If an army of marketers in some of the most prestigious blue chips still don't have it cracked for their brands, then it's probably a fair bet that the world of recruitment hasn't either.

Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting for one minute that this is an area we should not be embracing. Of course we should. It would be preposterous to suggest otherwise. It's just that I think such a wide ranging and instant communication tool deserves a bit more thought. Social networking / media should just be integrated as part of a bigger picture not the latest strategy! I sense for some, because business has been such a "challenge" for the last year or so then this must be the obvious answer.

Such a train of thought would be completely missing the point and far too simplistic!
Social networking and other forms of technology and media are taking on increased significance in the world of recruitment for two reasons that come to my mind. (amongst many others!)

1. Technological advance - the internet has now gone on to the next level and everyone, not just recruiters, are playing catch up. It's only right that we should be active in this space too.

2. The recruitment industry has accelerated the use of social networking in the job search process as opposed to it evolving, because of the poor practices and service levels previously offered. Candidates and clients have now realised that they can talk to each other without the hassle of dealing with someone else who offers little in any value added service.

So where does that leave us?

It means it's time for the "purveyors of CVs" to exit stage left. It means it's time for the volume merchants to choose another activity to fill their time and their pockets.

It means that I think we need to remember that clients and candidates want less a "supplier" that throws CVs at a resourcing problem, much more a "partner" that can bring real insight and meaning to the process through our knowledge and skills, enabling them to hire the best people they possibly can.

So how does this all come back to social networking?

Well it does and it doesn't - because my point is not everything has to! I realise this might prove a controversial statement on a social networking site and likely to annoy some, but it's not my intention.

Social networking will only enhance your business model if the following check list is taken seriously - or at the very least, considered....

1) Remember at all times that you need to build genuine relationships with clients and candidates. Demonstrate to them you are in it for the long haul. Don't let social networking become anti-social and act as a barrier or replacement for meeting up with candidates and clients.

2) Your on line presence and tone of voice is consistent with your overall business proposition. What do you actually stand for and represent, other than just placing people into jobs?

3) Employ some marketing expertise. This could be as an internal resource or consultancy basis, dependent on how much marketing knowledge you have within the organisation.

4) Be clear what you actually want to say! Don't just tweet just because it seems the done thing and is in vogue.

5) Don't play the numbers game! The days of quantity over quality are coming to an end. Deal with it. And focus on quality. You only need one candidate to fill one job!

6) Structure the business to be responsive and agile for what will work best for your clients - don't keep the structure you have just because that's the way it's always been.