We know that mostly the candidate experience is not very good, We’ve been talking about it for a long time without really changing too much. The internet changed the way people recruit. The process moved from being about relationships based on small volumes to being transactional, with high volumes and low quality. Recruiters were inundated, and they responded by putting up walls, hidden in technology, to distance them from candidates.

Recruiting technology was built as a filter to filter people out rather than filter people in, and as employment law  became more complicated, so the technology in the form of the ATS was built for process and filling all the boxes. There was no thought behind how user friendly the technology had become, or how long it took to complete. long paper forms were taken on line, with extra tests and assessments just in the hope of getting the chance of the interview. When the candidates had jumped through all the hoops needed, then the people part wasn’t much better.

Even with the technology advances, applications still go unacknowledged on the most part. i ran a quick check of  10 career sites a month ago to see what happens when you get passed the landing page after a link from twitter. Out of 20 applications, I got 1 acknowledgment that my details had been received and were in the system. Nothing that I had been rejected. The average application took 52 minutes to complete, and I wasn’t really looking for a job so my answers were instant. If I was really trying i’m sure they would have taken 4 times as long. The navigation on the most part was complicated and not user friendly, and took 130 clicks. I put in a big effort even just as a test, and the usual message on the welcome page was that if you haven;t heard from us within 2 weeks (or the closing date), we are not interested. Is this really acceptable?

When I talk to job seekers about what they want from potential employers, and the biggest thing I get back is feedback. They understand that they are not always going to be successful, but they want to hear back. people who have taken the time and the effort to complete the application process, got prepared and been through an interview or more, and then nothing. no feedback. no thanks for coming, just left to wonder and then accept the inevitable. Is it any surprise that candidates are applying for less and less jobs, only really opting for those that they are really confident that they are going to get an interview. They are suffering from fatigue, brought on by silence and disappointment.

On a flight earlier this year I read a book by Richard Branson called “Screw business as usual.” In the book, Branson argues that businesses need to start doing what is right, not because they should but because it is good for business. i think this is especially true for the candidate experience, if you want the best candidates to apply, then you need to make sure that you give them a great candidate experience.

Gerry Crispin

In the USA, Gerry Crispin has really lead the charge towards improving the candidate experience. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Gerry a few times, He is the original cat in a hat. He understood my position, that in my view there was no benefit to talking about the candidate experience. We all knew it was broken but few people were really doing anything about it. In my view, the time for talking was over. About eighteen months ago I heard Gerry speaking about the Candidate Experience awards they were launching. The awards were a big success, so I was delighted to hear that they would be coming to the UK in 2012.

The UK Candidate Experience Awards are being organised in the UK by The Talent Collective. I’m delighted to have  been asked to join the judging panel because this is an area I feel quite passionate about. Known as the CandE awards, this really could be a catalyst for change.

The awards are sponsored, so they it’s free to take part. It’s not like a normal award, where you pay a fee and get your PR company to fil in your entry. It’s also not a thinly disguised ploy to get you to buy tables at a dinner The real benefit of taking part is the process, and the report you get back. Your commitment is to complete a questionnaire, and give access to past and current candidates for real feedback. The reports are confidential and comprehensive, and benchmark your practices against those of the other participants. It’s a brilliant way to find out how you really compare, and what you can do to improve your candidate experience. 

If you think your candidate experience might match the experiences I have talked about in the start of this post, then the diagnostic will help you see what you can do to fix it. If you think you offer a great candidate experience, the process might just confirm it. You might even get to win one of the awards. There is really nothing to lose by taking part. Entry is open to both in-house recruiting teams and agencies.  If you want to explore taking part you can contact me directly by phone, twitter, Facebook or e-mail (bill@billboorman.co.uk) and I will connect you with the organisers. I recommend you take part and find out how you are really doing.


The Awards Website