If you were with me last time, you’ll recall I wrote about the ways in which the baby boomer generation used to apply for jobs and their expectations of how these applications would be handled. I contrasted these with the demands of the millennials and Gen Z, who expect seamless, digital communication and won’t be prepared to work for you if you don’t offer what they want. Offering a great candidate experience is therefore essential for companies and organisations (including RGU) wanting to maximise their chances of recruiting in the current, extremely competitive job market.
The starting point, as far as we are concerned at RGU, is that while we know not every applicant for our jobs can be successful, we also know all our applicants, whether successful or not (and, obviously, most are not) will have an opinion about how their application had been handled. We want each applicant to feel thoroughly involved and well-treated at every stage of the process.
On the other side of the coin, a company that doesn’t take the candidate experience seriously, might be on the receiving end of allegations of illegal discrimination on the grounds of age, race, gender etc. In days gone by, ‘word of mouth’ could slowly create an impression amongst an candidate’s friends and acquaintances of a company as a good or bad employer. Today, ‘word of mouse’ (or more likely a finger on a screen) shifts opinion into the public arena in seconds and can, rightly or wrongly, result in a Twitter storm which destroys organisational reputation/shareholder value in days.
Fake news and maliciousness can be hard to counter, but an insistence that your recruiters abide by the three “Ps” – politeness, professionalism and process – should underpin your candidates’ experience and help reduce the scope and opportunity for any malcontents to besmirch your firm’s reputation. Being human, we are not immune from getting some things wrong, but these three “Ps” are what we strive for at RGU.
In essence, we believe any recruitment exercise can be boiled down to this: treat candidates as you would prefer to be treated yourself. Politeness should be a given: everyone who applies for a job with your organisation must be treated with respect. This extends naturally into your processes. Technology ought to make this easier. Applicant tracking systems – such as the one behind www.myjobscotland.gov.uk (where our jobs are advertised) will automate your acknowledgements, interview, rejection and award letters, but, I’d suggest you make sure you review and revise them regularly. It can be hard to find the time, but do try and ensure they are not soulless, but polite, pleasant expressions of invitation, rejection or success. If a candidate has been particularly impressive at interview but ultimately unsuccessful, why not add a personal hand-written acknowledgement to the standard letter? That’s professionalism.
Making people feel good about rejection is a skill, but one that will enhance your reputation significantly. I was told a great story by an experienced recruiter about how Starbucks managed to let people down gently and make them feel good about the company. They offered unsuccessful candidates a voucher for $5, in the expectation that those who took up this offer would spend additional money which might otherwise have gone to a competitor. Moreover, Starbucks knew the average spend per customer per visit was more than $5, so they were also in with a chance of making a bit of money out of this. For some, this may seem the unacceptable face of capitalism, but it’s very probable that those who did take up this offer enjoyed their coffee and cookies and thus felt good about a company that had just rejected them for a job. That’s professionalism. Underpin your recruitment with these three Ps and you’ll be giving your job applicants the 5-star treatment and protecting your brand and reputation.
Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU