HR professionals are being let down in the recruitment process by their own peers, according to new research into candidate experience published today.
The survey of 1,000 HR professionals, conducted by Personnel Today in conjunction with Better Placed HR and Blackbridge Communications, found a major gap between what candidates expect from the recruitment process and the reality they experience.
More than half (55%) of employers believe that the experience of applying for a job has declined in the last five years, whether applying directly or through a recruitment agency.
And while the automation of recruitment processes means that the experience is generally more efficient and cost-effective, candidates feel they are not getting the level of communication and feedback they would like, and this risks harming employers’ brands.
Improvement is necessary to make sure an employer’s reputation is not tarnished” – Tony Andrews, Blackbridge
Just over one-third (37%) of respondents said they were only told some of the time when they had made it through to the next stage of the recruitment process. Meanwhile, 29% said they never received feedback on their job application.
Scoring the recruitment process for the last job they applied for between one and 10 (where 10 is the top score), the average rating overall was 5.7. Those who applied directly to an employer scored the process marginally lower than those through an agency, at 5.5 and 5.7 respectively. However, agencies scored consistently below direct hiring when it came to getting feedback or information.
Smaller specialist agencies scored better, because candidates felt they were treated as an individual. Where candidates had applied directly, the process tended to be more automated and less personal, and respondents noted that it was more difficult to receive details of their applications.
Paul Duffield, partner at Better Placed HR, said: “Our experience was that candidates were getting a poor experience on the whole and this research matches that anecdotal evidence. While the results do not paint a very good picture, our experience is that when the candidate experience is at the top of the list during a recruitment process the entire event is so much better for all concerned.”
Candidates valued being able to access more information on roles and to speak to someone about them if possible. Nine out of 10 surveyed said that it was important to have someone available to discuss the job beyond the online specification, while 76% felt it was important to give a personal acknowledgement of an application.
One active jobseeker, who has been looking for a role for less than six months, summed up their experience: “Communicate, communicate, communicate. Good or bad news, we just want to know.”
Four key themes came out of the research in terms of what employers and their third-party recruiters could do better. Respondents felt it was important to:
- personalise the experience – “Treat candidates as human beings”;
- give feedback – “Provide detailed feedback in a phone call to unsuccessful interviewed candidates”;
- be honest – “If I’m not suitable then tell me so I don’t waste my time”; and
- communicate – “I want to know what’s happening and when”.