There’s no doubt that those across the world of HR and talent attraction are placing increasing value on delivering a positive candidate experience – indeed, there’s recognition across the board that we’re in an applicant driven market where a lengthy, uninformed and confusing candidate journey is deemed unacceptable in the eyes of talent themselves. But the simple fact is, while this is all too often treated as a HR issue, it’s the recruitment firms themselves that are not only being held accountable for delivering this, but also arguably see the greatest benefits of a streamlined candidate experience.
So why has the weight of the candidate experience ended up on the shoulders of recruiters and how can firms ensure they profit from this?
Getting the credit you deserve
We all know recruitment consultants act as the intermediary between applicant or contractor and the end hirer. This means that quite often they face the backlash if a client’s processes lead to candidates facing what they feel is an unacceptable level of engagement, even if there is nothing the recruiter can actually do about it.
However, given that an agency’s ability to make a profit lies squarely in its talent pools, allowing a negative experience to come between them and their candidates is not ideal to say the least. For firms, losing top individuals due to a poor experience with a client is something that needs to be mitigated, but acting as the support team for the applicant can help retain that relationship. Of course, this does mean being fully aware of what’s going on, so staying informed and knowing what hoops your candidates and contractors will have to jump through is key. For example, experiencing a client’s hiring process for yourself and witnessing first-hand the impact of any administrative tasks they need to complete will provide you with greater insight to help you support the applicant journey.
While guiding your candidates and contractors through each specific application naturally helps improve their experience, in an ideal world, recruiters and clients would work together to ensure the process is streamlined and appropriate from the beginning. Of course, explaining to your clients that you want them to reconsider their talent attraction and management journey to help keep your contacts engaged with your own firm won’t necessarily have the desired effect. However, using your knowledge of the industry to explain why it’s in the hirers best interest will certainly prove beneficial.
Given that talent acquisition and HR teams have a raft of roles and responsibilities that are rapidly increasingly, they often struggle to find the time to trial new systems that could improve the candidate experience – particularly given the wealth of products available in the market. Having a partner on board who knows the ins and outs of hiring processes, has first-hand experience of what really works and the knowledge of the external systems that can support both employers and applicants, will be hugely valuable. This is where agencies can fill the gap.
There’s no doubt that recruiters know the hiring market inside and out. They have direct access to the talent that employers need and due to the extent of these connections they are arguably best placed to identify where the applicant journey is broken and what systems and processes really work when it comes to improving this. But too often this information remains with the agency rather than being shared with the employers who are ultimately making the decision as to what the applicant journey will look like. When we consider that the quality of the candidate experience will directly impact the success of a recruitment agency, it makes sense that this knowledge should be shared with a firm’s clients too.
I’d also add that from a potential client’s perspective, knowing the extent of the value you place on your candidates and the experience they go through when seeking their next opportunity will certainly increase your prospects at winning the account. If more businesses are aware of the benefits of a positive applicant journey, both financially and in terms of their employer brand, then partnering with a supplier which has this at the heart of its service is a real no-brainer.
There’s no doubt that recruiters are experts when it comes to what works in the hiring process, but all too often they are simply used as a one-stop supplier to fill immediate demands. But given that it is the agencies themselves who risk a damaged candidate relationship if a client’s processes aren’t up to scratch, I’d argue that the imperative to educate hirers as to where the applicant journey is broken lies with recruiters themselves.