Like many professions – and arguably more than most – recruitment has been transformed by technology and online media. In just a few years, the process of looking for a job or filling a role has moved inexorably online. While online recruitment can have benefits for both candidate and employer, there is also plenty of evidence that the new faster, cheaper approach is inflicting significant damage too. One area which particularly concerns me is the slow and painful death of the corporate brand.
In a system where speed and efficiency are paramount and employers can post job ads with just a few mouse clicks, it’s all too tempting to rush the process. I don’t blame the hard-pressed HR executive who is under pressure to fill roles and is probably juggling multiple application procedures. Rather, it’s the system and the technology which actively enable the casual erosion of the corporate brand.
Damage inflicted by dehumanisation
According to Glassdoor, “Candidates today increasingly treat a job search like an online shopping experience,” yet, far from trying to entice high quality applicants into their ‘store’, many organisations’ online recruitment corporate brand image seems to be actively putting off potential recruits from crossing the threshold. Where is the personalisation, the craft, the curation?
Particularly at a senior level, job candidates need to be wooed, seduced and cajoled; they need to be actively approached, engaged, sold to, caressed and managed through the process. This requires human input and person-to-person communication, not an automated system.
In today’s market, recruitment is essentially part of the marketing mix. An organisation’s corporate brand image is under constant scrutiny, but in many cases the online recruitment experience is revealed to be the weakest link. If a corporation is taking a cost-driven, faceless approach to talent search, it can inflict a wounding blow to the corporate brand image.
Consider the online recruitment application process from the candidate’s point of view. A company they have always admired is offering a role which could be their dream job. They overlook the rather uninspiring corporate-speak of the job ad as the role specification is exactly what they’re looking for.
Next, they must register on a portal and upload their CV. The process is a little clunky and it takes longer than it should. Ideally, they’d like to be able to contact a named person with a couple of questions, although unfortunately this isn’t an option. They receive an automated message thanking them for their “aplication” (sic). There is no indication of timescale or next steps.
They hear nothing. They try to follow up but there isn’t an easy way to do this. They eventually dig out a phone number on Google and are sent round in circles by a friendly but uninformed receptionist, eventually leaving a voicemail for an unnamed person in the HR department. No call back, no feedback, no joy.
So much for that dream job. The candidate vows never to apply to the company again and proceeds to tell anyone who’ll listen what a lousy experience they had.
The growth of ghosting
Worryingly, in a survey reported in the Harvard Business Review, less than half of respondents from large companies said they measured their external brand image, and less than a third said they were measuring whether the company was living up to its employer brand promises internally. It is precisely this kind of complacency which will repel candidates.
In fact, a poor online recruitment experience has given rise to another modern phenomenon: job applicant ghosting. A term derived from the online dating scene, where a potential partner who you have been in contact with suddenly disappears and no longer responds to your messages, ghosting is becoming a real issue at every stage of the application process. Whether it’s a candidate not showing up for interview, or even going AWOL on the first day of a new job, employers are having to work harder than ever to keep candidates engaged and committed throughout the recruitment journey.
Power of personalisation
So, what is the answer? Based on my recent experience with a major international transportation business, expertise and personalisation are the key to managing a high quality, effective recruitment process which enhances the corporate brand.
Prior to contacting me, the HR team had tried the usual online job boards and LinkedIn adverts without success. Frustrated, they realised they needed specialisation and expertise to find the right kind of high quality talent. By working with me on a targeted search via my engaged network, we quickly found and attracted an experienced contractor who accepted the role.
From defining the brief at the outset, to helping the candidate to negotiate the resignation process from their current role, there is no online tech equivalent of the kind of hand-holding and project management that is delivered by a personalised service. Well-designed online application processes, where the system is built to enhance the applicant’s experience are scarce, but they do exist. One which is attracting praise is Honest Work, a specialist job site for the tech industry which promotes transparency and fairness at every stage. But again, it succeeds because it is niche and treats people as humans.
Before you post your next job ad online, think carefully about the effectiveness of the process and consider the role of personal contact in helping you find and secure the very best candidate for the position. It could be easier, quicker and better to appoint a specialist recruitment consultant who can enhance the experience for all concerned and polish your corporate brand image in the process.