To understand where HR should begin to focus and start a recruiting transformation, we need to look beyond the statistics and trends data and witness them come to life in a real story — an actual candidate’s experience with the recruiting system and process. John’s (not his real name) story gives deeper meaning to the statistics and personalizes the struggles of the recruiting function, along with providing lessons and insights for recruiting leaders about the priorities and potential quick wins for recruiting transformation.
After 18 years as a military officer, John decided to transition to the civilian workforce. While he secured employment, his re-entry into the private labor force was marred by a number of recruiting missteps, blunders, and process inefficiencies. The good news: the issues can be fixed. Here are a few of the lessons to be learned from John’s experiences.
- Lesson Learned 1: Don’t let machines overtake the personal side of sourcing and recruiting. The benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) in handling online job postings, applications, assessments, and requisition management are clearly defined in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. But John’s experience included technology tools replacing people and many impersonal, form-driven responses that presented organizations as cold, aloof, and distant in an age of relationships and personalization. Think about how your organization can take advantage of technology without losing the human element inherent in the employee-employer relationship. Social media and industry network groups present opportunities to enhance the connection with candidates.
- Lesson Learned 2: Don’t stigmatize the unemployed as unemployable. Many talented people count themselves as part of the fallout of the economic downturn. Though, as a new veteran, John’s situation was slightly different, he still experienced subtle but present bias to his unemployment status, with questions around his work ethic, networking abilities, and desire for employment. Even though he sent out numerous resumes each week, attended job fairs and networking events, and actively interviewed throughout the months of his career transition, he got indirect messages from employers that he was not quite the same as an active employee seeking a job change, because he was unemployed. Deloitte and The Rockefeller Foundation, in support of the White House National Economic Council, have put together these two handbooks for employers and job seekers as a helpful resource to understand and counteract these biases.
- Lesson Learned 3: Follow through on commitments; tap into candidate relationship management. John recalls countless recruiters making commitments to call him back or managers saying they’d be making hiring decisions in a few days, with no follow-through. For John, hearing something, even “no,” was better than going into a black hole and hearing nothing. He often chased recruiters and managers, felt he invested time in their companies, and yet experienced delayed or no follow-up to his inquiries about the companies’ promise to be in touch with him. How is your organization handling candidate communications? Are you tapping into technology tools to help manage the process, while still serving the broader need for relationship-building?
- Lesson Learned 4: Shorten the end-to-end cycle time. John experienced days turning into weeks and sometimes weeks turning into months. In our fast-paced society, everything is moving faster; this should include the recruiting cycle. Redesigning the processes, updating technology, incorporating newer techniques like video conferencing and recorded video responses as part of accelerating the initial screening interactions, and investing in recruiting resources can all shave time off the recruiting cycle and get needed talent on board sooner.>
- Lesson Learned 5: Invest in recruiting. John encountered many overwhelmed and stressed recruiters. The recruiters shared their stories of managing large number of requisitions, heavy workloads, and little downtime for development and training. In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014, 57 percent of surveyed leaders stated their organizations are weak in addressing workloads and schedules. John heard two recruiters tell him they were managing upwards of 150 active professional-level requisitions at one time. If recruiting is one of an organization’s marketing channels into the marketplace, why under-invest in the recruiting resource team? This can make a bad first impression to potential future employees. Instead, how can you use the recruiting experience as a marketing tool to position your organization as an employer of choice?
John’s experience confirms what surveyed leaders tell us themselves: Recruiting isn’t working as it should. Old ways of recruiting are often ineffective, causing organizations who cling to them to lose out on valuable talent. This is an issue keeping many CEOs up at night, and keeping many organizations from securing the talent to drive their business plans. Based on the 65 percent of surveyed leaders who view recruiting as underperforming, HR leaders have received their mandate: It’s time to think strategically about revitalizing the recruiting function, both with short-term fixes and long-term transformation initiatives.