Recruitment is easy to do badly - and it’s being done increasingly badly. According to a report by Clearly PR, 4,529 new recruitment businesses opened in 2016, and another 900 joined them in the first month of 2017 alone. As Forbes contributor Liz Ryan puts it, anyone who collects CVs and shares them with contacts can call themselves a recruiter - but this reflects badly on the industry at large.
Our candidates tell us their confidence in recruiters has declined, to a point where they put recruiters on the level of used car dealers - hard sellers who can’t be trusted to look after anything but their bottom line.
To rebuild its reputation and the goodwill of its candidates, the recruitment industry has a long way to go. Here are five ways that work can start - five resolutions for 2018.
Put candidate experience front and centre
Bullhorn’s 2017 Recruitment Trends Report told us a lot about the priorities of recruitment professionals. According to this report, only 41% of us place candidate satisfaction among our top three performance metrics. Client satisfaction, however, is the top priority for 64% of us.
Happy clients are a must, of course, but without candidates who trust us to guide them into fulfilling vacancies, we can’t satisfy our clients at all. Our money may come from clients, but our reputation and our growth rely on candidates wanting to trust in and engage with us. As recruiters, we need to satisfy and serve everyone involved in the process - which means we need to pay more attention to candidates.
Stop spamming the candidates
Knowing the candidate is among the most important parts of recruitment. As recruiters, we can demonstrate how well we know our candidates by approaching them with roles they want to hear about. Not everything with a job title that roughly matches their interests, not everything they’re technically qualified for and not everything within 30 miles of their house.
Recruitment has been so focused on the numbers game - fitting skill sets into positions as fast as possible to get a candidate in with a client and get paid - that the human aspect too often falls by the wayside. We often make assumptions about what our candidates and clients want, based on a strict and superficial interpretation of the CV and the job description.
We’re dealing with people’s livelihoods, and finding a role should be a collaboration between candidate, client and agency. Recruiters need to drop the mechanistic process, and become consultants, adding value to that collaboration.
Break the jobs board addiction
Relying on job boards to attract candidates is a partial and deeply flawed approach. It only attracts candidates who are currently out of work or about to be. The best candidates are often in work. They need you to reach out and offer them the roles they don’t even know they want yet - they won’t come to you.
The industry needs to adopt a different approach to candidate management and a different approach to finding talent. Quality, valuable content, thought leadership, helpful events and proper insight attract people to your site: get them signing up and engaging, and start building the relationships and knowledge base that turn them into candidates. Be helpful, be insightful and be proactive.
Get a grip on data - and use it wisely
Recruitment agencies hold a lot of personal information about candidates and clients. We need to protect that information, as a matter of law - but we also have to use it wisely. The data we hold allows us to personalise our service, messaging, recommendations and advice. This allows us to address the major concern our candidates in particular have expressed - that they’re being treated like commodities, not people. Specifically addressing candidates based on their behaviour counters that and restores the recruitment industry’s credibility.
The recruitment business gets a bad rep - often rightly so. These small changes can help foster a better perception of the industry among the candidates who are its lifeblood. Without them, there’s nobody to recruit - so we need to put them first, by easing back on the spam and being more selective in how we message and recruit. Instead of relying on job boards to attract potential candidates, we can offer actual value - insightful and thoughtful content that draws people in and builds relationships that we can shape into placements.