A horrible job seeking experience

horrible job seeking experience

My sister was recently in the job market, after returning to New Plymouth from Australia, and as a Recruitment Consultant I was horrified by some of the negative experiences she had while searching for a job. Here’s just a sample of some of her job hunting anecdotes:

  • She applied for countless roles where she didn’t even get acknowledgement of her application being received, nor hear back that her application had been unsuccessful.
  • She attended a face-to-face job interview and was told she would hear back by X date. She didn’t hear back by that date. Of course, I suggested she follow up herself, which she did, but she was unable to reach the people who interviewed her and instead had to leave a message. She has never heard from them since!
  • She was found via her online job board profile, and approached about a role. So far so good, the role was appealing and she went through a full phone interview and was told she sounded ‘perfect for the role’. She was then invited to a Skype interview because the recruitment agency was based in Wellington. Even though it wasn’t a face-to-face interview, my sister prepared as though it was, and put on her best interview outfit, washed her hair and put makeup on (this is actually quite a big deal if you know my sister). The consultant contacted her to reschedule her Skype shortly before the interview, on two separate occasions, before eventually emailing to let her know that the job had been filled.

Recruiter mistakes

My sister applied to roles directly with employers, and via recruitment agencies and had bad experiences with both. I found these stories, and the comments my sister made such as “oh another useless recruiter not getting back to me” really difficult to hear. It was so disappointing to hear that there are still ‘professionals’ in the recruitment industry letting us all down in the communication department.

Valuing the candidate experience

The candidate experience is more important than ever. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) such a hot topic at the moment, many people—including recruiters —are wondering whether their jobs could be replaced at some point in the future. It’s not hard to imagine, given the many low-cost, tech-focused recruitment options currently being marketed to businesses, challenging our full end-to-end recruitment service. It’s important to note that these services are basically only matching resumes to position descriptions. They lack the consultative approach that only an experienced recruitment consultant can bring to the process, with time taken to understand the client’s business as well as the candidate’s requirements and motivations, and providing a much better result.  But—if you are not doing a good job of this component and adding an empathetic human touch to the process, then maybe you should be concerned that a robot might be able to do your job better!

Reputation matters

As is often said, your candidates of today could be your clients or customers of tomorrow, and this is certainly my experience. A lot of our candidates are referred to us by previous candidates, or by clients who have recommended us. Many new clients approach us because other businesses that engaged us have provided a great recommendation, or they have employees who were previous Madison candidates and have reported back on their positive experiences. Word of mouth is very powerful, especially in a country as small as New Zealand.

As a Business Support consultant, I receive an average of 150 applications for most roles I advertise and have anywhere from two to six jobs listed at any given time. So I definitely understand how time consuming responding to every applicant can be. However, I believe that when a candidate has taken the time to apply, you owe them a response acknowledging their application. Or at the very least, you need to provide details on your expected recruitment process, so they understand that they might not hear back.

Courtesy basics

While I don’t usually like to tell people how to do their jobs, my sister’s recent experience suggests that perhaps there are some lessons to be learned for anyone in the business of recruiting:

  • Always acknowledge every application, or if you know this won’t be possible, then state in your advert that unsuccessful candidates will not be contacted.
  • Unless it’s absolutely unavoidable, don’t reschedule interviews on the actual day of the appointment. A candidate is likely to have gone to extra effort to prepare themselves and has kept their schedule open for this interview, all the while dealing with the butterflies that flutter around on the day of an interview.
  • Timely feedback is essential for candidates throughout the recruitment process. Even if you have no news because of internal hold-ups, let them know that you have no news.
  • Surely this goes without saying, but here goes: Respond to each candidate who has interviewed for a position so they know whether or not they have been successful at the end of the process!

Like all the best stories, this one has a happy ending. My sister secured a role that she loves, and sees as a great long-term opportunity. As the saying goes, everything happens for a reason and perhaps my sister had to wait for this role to come around. But regardless of this, even if she was the unsuccessful candidate for every single application she made, my sister—and all job seekers—deserve good communication, greater empathy and a pleasant job seeking experience.