“Every candidate is a potential customer“: Managing Reputational Risk
By Cheryl Zeghers, Principal Consultant, InterSearch Middle East
As a graduate trainee Recruitment Officer with what was at the time and probably still is one of the world’s most successful fashion retailers this was my 1st lesson. It was drummed into my head…we were taught don’t forget that even if the candidate is not hired he/ she should desperately want to work for the company and will walk away with a deep respect for the brand. I also spent 6 months working on the shop floor before I was allowed to interview any candidate so that I understood the business. That was 25 years ago.
Organisations spend millions on positioning, branding and marketing only to have this undone in a second through unprofessional recruitment practices. A few years ago I conducted a search for one of the world’s top automotive brands. Candidates who had previously been contacted by the internal recruiters of that company stated categorically that they would never care to repeat the experience of being interviewed by the company, never mind consider actually working for them and they would most definitely never buy one of their vehicles.
In the Middle East as in many places HR practitioners face the problem of receiving hundreds of unsolicited responses to company recruitment adverts. In addition to this there are various responses and invitations on LinkedIn. If there is high unemployment combined with an applicant naiveté candidates flood recruiters with CVs which are largely not vaguely relevant to the position advertised. Recruiters in turn despair at the number of responses they have to sift through and candidates berate the fact that they don’t ever receive a response. The industry has reached a stalemate. Recruiters are short of time and short tempered and candidates are frustrated in their efforts to find jobs and disenchanted with recruiters. In fact I would go so far as to say that some candidates and recruiters even dislike each other.
Company HR Departments in an attempt to short circuit the process of advertising and in order to cope with the work load then use contingent recruiters on success. They request recruiters to send them a short list. This exacerbates the problem. Earning commission on success (i.e. being paid once the successful candidate has started employment) creates a sales type of model for recruitment agencies with targets to achieve in terms of number of CVs sent out per day and placements. In that kind of environment, what I refer to as “spray and pray”, strict due process of screening and selecting is not always followed. Companies then have third parties with no brand loyalty whatsoever representing them in an often unscrupulous and careless way. Damage to the brand can then be perpetuated.
Line Managers become frustrated because they expect dedicated in-house HR business partners to find, screen and select top candidates for final interviews. However, these business partners are faced day to day with performance management issues, strategic change, operational and employee wellness which requires immediate attention and recruitment is delayed.
So, these are the problems. What are the solutions?
- Every candidate is a potential customer and should be treated as a priority with dignity, respect and care.
- HR Professionals should understand the operational requirements of the business.
- Companies should choose external service providers with great care and not only based on pricing.
- There should be a limited number of selected recruitment service providers. Increasing the number of service providers does not necessarily increase the number of candidates on the market.
- Companies should understand the difference between Recruitment and Executive Search.
- Recruitment is a mass approach used to bring in a vast amount of generic skills needed by an organization. This can be paid for on risk i.e. a percentage due on candidate start date. The candidates sought with this approach are not in short supply.
- Search is the process of methodologically researching and identifying candidates in the market who are highly skilled/ qualified/ educated and experienced and who are in demand hence short in supply and business imperative. This search process is paid for on a retained basis because without the retainer the service provider cannot justify and carry the significant costs incurred by the detailed research. This process takes time, thorough investigation and great care in order to correctly approach candidates who are not actually on the job market. The search company also needs to properly represent the company’s brand and create an customer experience of integrity and professionalism.
- Companies should select their service providers, differentiate clearly between Recruitment and Search providers and ensure that these providers are themselves educated, experienced and knowledgeable about the businesses that they service much like appointing a management consultant.
- Most importantly create a culture of humility and humanity when dealing with people who are making decisions about their livelihood and future careers.
Intersearch is a specialist Executive Search firm that focuses on finding those difficult to find key talent, critical, core and hot skills and selects top caliber candidates for business imperative positions throughout the world. We assist our clients in identifying and placing skilled and professional, senior managerial and executive staff.