In a candidate-driven market, many businesses put their trust in agencies and external recruitment partners to find the best talent. But do they know the impact these partners have on candidate experience? Juliet Eccleston, CEO of AnyGood? investigates the issues.
Candidate attraction and experience
Most HR professionals recognise the importance of a top-notch employer brand. A negative candidate experience can do serious damage to an employer’s reputation and, ultimately, future talent attraction strategies.
However, while many HR teams look to improve processes internally, few are assessing how the recruitment firms they use impact their brands. Worryingly, research from our Trust in Recruitment campaign found that half of all people that have used recruitment agencies in the last year do not feel they were dealt with honestly.
With such a high prevalence of negative experiences when dealing with the recruitment sector, it’s inevitable that some of this reflects back onto companies and their brands.
Sharing bad experiences
This lack of honesty can have a major impact on your recruitment strategies. Research from Talent Board revealed that 33% of candidates with a negative experience planned to share it via social media, and 41% of candidates intended to take their loyalty elsewhere.
Conversely, with a positive candidate experience, 62% reported a better relationship with a company or brand, 78% said they would refer someone in the future and 62% stated that they would apply again.
The existence of review sites like Glassdoor has also increased the importance of candidate experience. Potential jobseekers place a large premium on these reviews, with the majority reading at least six before forming an opinion of a company.
However, these stats don’t show how candidate experience can affect the bottom line. A great example of this is Virgin Media, which has calculated the cost of a bad candidate experience to its business.
The company found that of 123,000 rejected candidates each year, 6% cancelled their monthly Virgin Media subscription as a result of their experience. This cost the company £4.4 million annually; a significant sum of money.
When combining this cost with the fact that recruitment as an industry is viewed very negatively, the chance of using an external partner that could damage your company is fairly high. In our research, 80% of job hunters were “very concerned” about where the recruitment sector was heading. The industry clearly needs to change.
HR as disruptors
So, why is it down to HR directors to disrupt the recruitment process? The simple answer to this is that if not them, then who?
As participants in our research stated, without a genuine demand from clients, recruiters have no incentive to change. The more HR directors who can emphasise that they expect positive candidate experience to be an integral part of their partnership with agencies, the more they will take note.
Furthermore, negative candidate experiences impact your brand, not the agency’s. While HR teams may be giving as much attention as possible to candidate experience internally, a negative experience with a recruiter is essentially viewed as an extension of your brand.
When candidates visit a company’s Glassdoor page, they aren’t taking into account whether it was the agency or the company that provided the bad experience, everything is viewed under the same umbrella. Therefore, disrupting recruitment is a matter of importance for HR, and must start with them.
That said, more and more agencies are putting candidate experience at the forefront of their operations. Contract Scotland, for example, actually removed its commission model over 20 years ago, something that’d be completely sacrilegious for most recruiters.
John-Paul Toner, the agency’s operations director, believes that there are “too many recruiters working to their own agenda, rather than what matters most to their clients and candidates”.
“That’s far from universally the case, but there’s enough of them that they’re damaging the reputations of those businesses that are acting with the vested interest of their clients and candidates in mind,” he adds.
He believes that the traditional commission model rewards the wrong behaviours. “Candidates are made to feel like a commodity because of the commission culture which ultimately puts a monetary value on them and their career.”
“Insufficient time is taken to properly understand what a client or candidate actually needs because the process is turned into a foot race, where speed (rather than quality) is of the essence. Since we moved to a values-based reward system, our consultants have been empowered to work more collaboratively as a team, with the needs of the candidate and client at the heart of everything we do.”
We speak to so many hiring managers and HR directors on a daily basis who don’t want to move away from the familiar to the unfamiliar, simply because they fear the unknown. This leads to many sticking to the same old options – whether agency, job-board, or time-consuming internal hiring processes – despite knowing that these routes won’t deliver the desired results.
Ultimately, the disruption of recruitment doesn’t have to disrupt HR directors themselves. By simply being aware of the issue, and ensuring they demand the necessary care and attention from agencies towards candidate experience could be enough to make the industry start taking note. The more agencies hear from clients that this is an urgent demand, the quicker change will come.
Furthermore, there are innovative recruitment agencies out there going against the grain, it’s just a question of taking the time to seek them out and use them. In a labour market where the candidate is king (or queen), now really is the time to let go of the status quo and put your trust in models that drive the right behaviours and better outcomes.