Warning: Recruiters may not like the content of this post!

8 02 2010

As you may know in around 10 days time I’ll be co-track-leading at Bill Boorman and Geoff Webb’s Recruitment Unconference.  One of the tracks I”m leading is titled “Who Cares What the Candidate Thinks?” a subject close to my heart as I’ve spent many years working with and advising businesses on the Candidate Experience.  However, as the MD of my own business, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced being a candidate myself.

So it’s with this in mind that I’m writing.

Around Christmas time I got my CV up to date (slapped wrists as it had been a little longer than I advise others…) and started to research and apply for one or two roles that matched my skill set and expertise.  These varied from in-house roles to Consultant projects across the UK.  I wanted to see what the experience of being a candidate was actually like.

And do you know what…

…It was TERRIBLE!!!!!!!

It really does seems that noone cares what the candidate thinks!  From HR departments to Recruitment Agencies, I was staggered by the response that I got to my application for jobs!  Here’s a few titbits of what happened:

  • I was invited to attend an interview for a job I didn’t apply for by a well known US company – Data Protection???
  • One job application form, to be completed prior to any contact with the business, was so longwinded I gave up after 20 minutes trying to complete it
  • I was promised a call back from one very well known recruitment agency which failed to happen … ever
  • When scheduling an interview for another company, the lady took my availability and then didn’t get back in contact for 10 days – even then this was by email with one slot that was the following day.
  • Spot the reason why this email I received was below par from another recruitment consultant:

    “Hi Michelle
    Could you send through your interview availability for this week”

    Erm… Have I gone bananas?  Where’s the “How are you…”  “Please could you…”

So, in a nutshell my experience was rather different to what I was expecting!  Goodness knows how those out of work feel when subjected to such bad practise if this is a reflection of the way things work in this job-poor climate.

If you’re a job seeker reading this and you have any feedback for me on your job hunting experience then please post your comments here.  Recruiters I’d like to hear examples from you too of what you’re doing when it comes to managing the Candidate Experience.

Let’s kick the candidate experience back into touch!




10 responses

8 02 2010
Andy Headworth

Unfortunately this comes as no real surprise to me at all!! Is it any wonder why job seeking candidates are so apathetic when it comes to trying to find a job?

Out of interest, were there any positive experiences at al, that you could share?

8 02 2010

Thanks for the comment Andy. And yes, it’s no real surprise, although it does spell trouble I feel for recruiters when the job market reverses and it becomes harder to find people once again.

As for positive experiences, yes there were a few and thank you for asking me. I was encouraged by the quality of the job adverts I saw, recruiters were advertising using a number of different methods to attract candidates (I looked mainly via Indeed/Simply Hired and spotted the same jobs advertised using various sources), there was one company who responded personally to my job application within 24 hours – a record and certainly beat the automated responses received by so many!

Food for thought…

8 02 2010

You have been out of the market too long Michelle! None of this will change in the main until recruiters are rewarded on service, which they are not and are unlikely to be. Apart from us, and Aquent i don’t know anyone else who does this.

The other problem is that most recruitment companies are very poor at investing in their businesses, particularly smarter technology and good quality database. Having worked in the software/consulting arena, including rec systems i can tell you some horror stories about how little they value the data or the tools. Most don’t want to spend the money – they would rather pocket it! Sad but true.

Also, and i know its no excuse, but the problem with recruitment goes beyond the agency. Many organisations are as bad in terms of feedback and organisation, and candidates have also got themselves into a mindset that a job is only a ‘click’ away.

All round crap really. I think you are right, the landscape will change when the market picks up but that wont be for a while.

8 02 2010

Thanks for your post Gareth. A strong viewpoint you have and in the main I agree with you that service should be recognised albeit I think that rather than offer ££ reward for this, individuals should get a fair wage for doing a good job. There should also be a good management and effective orientation and development programme in place for hires to instill this good service ethic.

Surely as a recruiter offering a good service ie doing the right thing by others is part and parcel of the job and not something that requires reward for? What happened to having pride in our work and doing the right thing by others? Simple human values are being forgotten over and above an easy life…

Thanks again.

8 02 2010

Hi Michelle,

I must admit I’m not surprised by your comments…

I do think the door swings both ways. We’re currently recruiting for staff and some of the CVs we receive through are simply dreadful with no thought going into the application and the lack of follow up from the candidates is simply non-existent.

Perhaps it has something to do with the way people apply for jobs. One click of a mouse and you can apply for 10 jobs, and god forbid making a follow up call to see if the CV has been received and if there was any feedback.

A number of the recruitment agencies who we deal with charge between 10 and 30% of basic…this can equate to quite a significant amount of cash and they don’t seem to do much for their money!

I could rant forever on this, but I’m not going to! 🙂

Keep up the great tweets!!


James Stelfox

9 02 2010

Hi James, thanks for your feedback. Sounds like we’re on a very similar wavelength.

Yes the quality of CVs is terrible, especially considering the competition – it often makes me wonder how many people are going through the motions of applying for jobs to get a tick in a certain Job Seeker allowance box..And yes, online applications c/o the various job boards do mean candidates forget they need to target their job applications too…One for another post I suspect!

Your comments re rec. agencies i totally echo – gone are the days where agencies can charge such fees without employers asking real questions about what they’re getting for their money…As with all things to do with candidate attraction a one size fits all approach is rarely the answer and recruiters need to consider the overall service they’re offering…

Hope you find the people you’re recruiting for and am sure you’ll make their experience of your process much better than the ones I’ve talked about here!

Best wishes

9 02 2010

Rejection letter I received:

Vacancy No:

Thank you for submitting an application in respect of the post.

Short-listing has now taken place and it is with regret that I write to inform you that you have not been selected to attend an interview. This is due to candidates being selected who match our essential and desirable criteria more closely.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the interest you have shown and to wish you every success in your career.

9 02 2010

Thanks for posting this – it is pretty bland isn’t it…and sadly pretty similar to many I’ve seen (and worked with) in the past. What would have been more useful to you?

Good luck with your job search!


11 02 2010
Cathy Richardson

Michelle I can’t agree with you more!

I have 23 years of recruitment experience at senior level, having worked in Manufacturing and Sales all those years, managing teams and building a considerable network of contacts.

Last year, the bottom fell out of the Automotive market and I was made redundant. I decided to set out on my own but, early this year, decided to give the job market another whirl. Not only to see if it has improved at all, but also to see “what was out there”.

What I found, ranging from Rec to Recs who really don’t have a clue, through to recruitment business owners that I certainly wouldn’t hire into recruitment myself, made me realise that I was best set on doing my own thing.

I am very honest with my candidates. Because I work on my own, it is impossible for me to help everyone and I have no intentions of building a massive database as I truly feel I have moved the “spray and pray” style of recruitment. So why raise unrealistic expectations if you know full well that you can’t deliver? If this is how my competition operates, then my honesty and integrity is one of the largest USP’s I can possibly offer my clients and candidates.

After the very tough year of 2009, I have been amazed that recruitment companies don’t understand that they have to change if they want to survive. It’s not about bums on seats, recruitment is about providing a solution that creats a tripartheid win: For the client, the candidate and the consultant. I firmly believe that the “agency” bubble will be bursting very soon if this isn’t recognised. For me, this can’t happen quick enough. It’s time we forgot about making money and start delivering ROI on our client’s investments. The money will come naturally then, but the industry’s image will be much improved.

11 02 2010

Hi Cathy,

Thanks so much for your post and your honesty. I totally totally empathise with what you’re saying and agree that things need to change.

Back in the day when I used to be full-time responsible for PSLs I was generally much much happier with the service I received from agents like yourself, who owned their own business and for whom the work I gave them was a big deal. None of this “you need to speak to this “brand” about that job and this brand about the other” rubbish that you get for some of the larger firms… This was about smaller firms truly embracing our culture and wanting to supply to us with excellent staff.

One of the main challenges I see you facing is getting past the gatekeeper where such firms need scale as well as service.

But this industry as you know is about relationship and trust – a consultant generally makes the sales rather than the firm itself…

I wish you all the very best in what you do and am glad you’ve decided to stick it out! (Love the website by the way)

All the best

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