Poor recruitment practices damage consumer brand and bottom line

Organisations are damaging their employer brand and bottom line by engaging in poor recruitment practices, according to new research.

A survey of more than 500 recruitment managers, by psychometric testing firm SHL, revealed one-quarter felt overstretched by the number of applications they are receiving during the economic downturn.

This is having a knock-on effect on their recruitment processes, with nearly half of the 1,600 workers surveyed reporting they were left with a negative view of an organisation following an unsuccessful job application. A further 18% said their recruitment experience had been so bad it had stopped them doing business with the company as a result – a figure that rose to 28% for those aged 25 to 34.

The recruitment practices most likely to put candidates off a company were not being told they had been unsuccessful (46%) and a lack of feedback (39%). The professional and legal services industry and the public sector were found to be the worst communicators during recruitment processes.

David Leigh, chief executive of SHL, said it was vital HR remembered that “candidates are customers too”, adding it was “worrying” that many customers were applying for jobs but employers were not answering them. “Businesses could be losing significant sums over the lifetime of a disgruntled candidate,” he said.

Case study: John Lewis

For John Lewis, upholding the consumer brand during the recruitment process is “absolutely key”. To cope with the volume of applications and deliver a positive experience to candidates, the department store group has launched a series of online assessment tools to ensure it can hire the most suitable talent.

Having launched the tools last year, candidates can now access a realistic job preview and are asked questions to see if they suit the role, allowing them to self-select themselves out at an early stage if they do not. Candidates still interested in the role are then put through a talent screening, and numerical and verbal reasoning tests, from SHL, before being selected for an assessment centre.

Sue Gilbert, manager of senior recruitment at John Lewis, told Personnel Today the new system has “saved huge amounts of money and time”. “When we get through that process we then have the right applications coming through to the an assessment centre,” she said

John Lewis is now looking to improve new recruits’ first year at the firm by focusing on induction processes and the training offered, and surveying new hires to get their feedback.

The retailer is also considering linking its marketing and recruitment processes more closely together going forward to further boost its consumer and employer brand.

The survey revealed 19% of employers were not notifying candidates on receipt of applications, 17% were not providing detailed feedback to interview candidates, and 15% were not letting candidates know if they were unsuccessful.

Leigh said: “Many businesses are simply not equipped to deal with the current surge in applications and unfortunately this means processes that may once have been standard are now being neglected. This is having a direct impact on employer brand and it appears candidates are voting with their feet.

“A bad recruitment experience is at least as damaging as a bad consumer experience in store,” he added. “It’s about giving those applicants a good experience and managing people so if they are rejected they can still have a pleasurable experience.”

Angela Baron, employee engagement adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said employers should show at least “low-level courtesy” by responding to applicants. “A nice e-mail doesn’t cost much,” she said. “People really get upset when they invest a lot of time and energy in an application and hear nothing.”

Baron added recruitment agencies delivered the worst experiences for jobseekers, but she warned employers were also creating negative views of their companies by putting up too many hurdles for candidates in a bid to reduce applications and by recruiting over-qualified people who cannot get the experiences they want and so leave quickly when other opportunities arise.

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