James Mayes

Are we recruiting or rejecting?

In Conference, Personal Development, Recruitment, Social Media on May 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

At the recent ConnectingHR event, one of the organisers behind the community space we used gave us a brief insight into their plans and philosophy. While he spoke for only a few minutes, he left a lasting thought with me for our industry. He used the analogy of a mis-named light bulb: most of the energy going in gets distributed as heat, not light – so why do we not refer to it as a heater?

From a recruitment perspective, he claimed, we are similarly misnamed. The vast majority of applications result in rejection, with actual recruitment occurring in only a minority of circumstances (how many CV’s do you review before you make a placement or a hire?). I meant to blog this last week, but have been somewhat sidetracked with a team day out and subsequent brainstorming day at BNT (the day out led to a new recruitment video!).

Due to a current technology curse, I was subjected to a history lesson yesterday as I attempted to send a text – with Nokia predictive text, the key-presses for Selection actually show initially as Rejection. I figure this blog is meant to be written!

I don’t believe either the light bulb or recruitment are mis-named; both are named to reflect the intended outcome, not the unintended side effect. However, this by-product is not inconsequential. In the case of the light bulb, advances are being made. A change in the chemical composition and materials used result in an improved environmental footprint.

In recruitment though, I’ve seen very little change in the last twenty years. If anything, the processes I’ve witnessed first-hand have actually deteriorated as technology such as job-boards and mobile apps have made it easy to apply to multiple roles – increased volume of applications has meant a reduction of individual feedback, or even the absence of a response / acknowledgement all together.

We live in a socially connected world. Whilst recruitment might not yet be ready (in the main) to adopt social media, as an industry it must surely accept that we’re all brand consumers and we all share our experiences. A bad experience individually leads to a retweet, a Facebook update, a blog post. I heard the perfect sound-bite for this a few weeks back: If you have a great experience, you tell your friends. If you have a bad experience, you tell Google.

I recently joined BraveNewTalent. Managing the rejection process isn’t what BNT is about – but by ensuring all applicants come into a community environment, where they gain an insight into clients, can see a community develop and can learn about other opportunities with the organisation, maybe a better rejection process is a damn decent side effect for Social Recruiting to aim for?

  1. Great points made. I consider myself as a victim of the modern people resourcing practices where Lack of feedback is on top of the list. Is there any way back? I realise the amount of application needing processing yet this doesn’t change the bottom line of ensuring two way communication with applicants.#justsaying

    • Absolutely Peter. The line used to be “You’re not right for us now, but we’ll place your CV on our files” – then you’d never hear back. Many firms don’t even bother with that basic acknowledgement any more. Inviting applicants to join a community of some kind, where they may network successfully or find materials of professional interest, simply has to be a step forward!

      • Hear Hear.
        I am glad this comes from you, as I consider you one of the leaders within social recruitment movement. As far as recruitment industry goes I am hoping BraveNewTalent will lead the revolution. All the best to you all.

  2. Nice angle James, but the truth is out of EVERY SINGLE recruitment process, you reject more than you recruit.

    Whether it is self selection (eg via the BNT community) or not, companies that are more successful at managing the relationship with the ‘rejected’ will ultiamtely be more successful.
    A few years ago I was doing some work with SmithKline Beecham and they were spending more time and money in the rejection of applicants than they were on the successful ones! It paid off because candidates were so impressed with the process they told all their friends about it.

    The result was an increase in referral applications!! << All through rejection.

    You are right, people are happy to shout from the social rooftops about a poor recruitment experience, but too few do the same when it goes well.


  3. I agree that due to the way that technology has changed people are applying for any role and not spending the time to research the company turning their job search into almost a battery farm experience.

    This is also not helped by the lack of feedback candidates get from the companies they apply to, sometimes not even a “thanks but no thanks” email.

    I work in an internal recruitment role and make a point of replying to every applicant that applies to a job with us, whether they are suitable or not. I think it is common courtesy to reply if they have taken the time to apply for the role.

    I also think when rejecting someone following on from an interview that you pass across useful and constructive feedback making candidates feel that they have gained something from their experience

    • I think your habit of replying to every single applicant puts you ahead of the field Nick, but actually providing useful interview feedback? That probably gets you a “wow” factor score with most candidates today!

      • Which I think is sad and frustrating. As recruiters we not only have a responsibility to our candidates but also our clients/brand.

        The experience a candidate has when they apply for a role, whether direct or through a recruiter, is integral to that candidate perception of that brand.

        Wouldn’t it be better that the candidate goes away feeling good about the process, rather than dejected.

        A rejection can still be seen as a positive if handled right and give the candidate knowledge of the areas they need to improve/develop for next time

        • Nick, no you don’t.
          My partner interviewed a while ago with your company. Did well on first round IV called back for presentation and unfortunately didn’t get the role. Feedback was good and icrossing asked her to get back in touch if something of interest popped up. Anyway, cut a long story short – saw another role, emailed with ref to previous correspondence and reasons why interested – not a thing back. Emailed again, not a thing back. I agree with your comments on perception of brand, that;s what the lack of response from you/ your team resulted in.

          • Thank you for your comment. I do reply to every application as I have been unemployed previously and felt disheartened not to hear back and found it demoralising

            Can you call me on 01273 828677 as I would like to find out more and see where our process has fallen down

        • with the same topic in mind of “damaging brands” surely, a twitter feed full of expletives, generally non-witty banter, rantings about job applicants and ludicrous claims about the McCann family would damage this too? Perhaps not.

          • As I said if you want to call me on 01273 828677 I can see where our process has fallen down and then we can then use this to plug the hole for future

          • If you wish to engage directly with Nick and resolve your issue, please do so – he has provided direct contact details. Whilst I leave comments unmoderated on my blog, I’d rather it wasn’t used as a platform for anonymous attacks and reserve the right to edit or remove should it become necessary.

          • Dear x
            Whatever did upset you, there is a genuine offer to sort it out by people most competent to do so. Call Nick, talk to him, and than come back here to share your feelings about how you’ve been treated. For now I only see deeply frustrated individual who is refusing help from others. Surely that doesn’t make you or your wife feel any better…

  4. […] I? Me: Drawing the narrative of a conference James Mayes: The HR blog feed for #chru James Mayes: Are we recruiting or rejecting? Rob Jones: The one with the unconference part 1 Rob Jones: The one with the unconference part 2 […]

  5. Nick, no you don’t.
    My partner interviewed a while ago with your company. Did well on first round IV called back for presentation and unfortunately didn’t get the role. Feedback was good and icrossing asked her to get back in touch if something of interest popped up. Anyway, cut a long story short – saw another role, emailed with ref to previous correspondence and reasons why interested – not a thing back. Emailed again, not a thing back. I agree with your comments on perception of brand, that;s what the lack of response from you/ your team resulted in.

  6. Following on from the previous comments unfortunately I have not been able to speak with X about what went wrong, but obviously the experience that his partner had was less than satisfactory and proved the fact that the way that candidates are managed can damage a brand.

    We do feedback to every candidate whether a straight rejection at application stage or following on from the interview, however something has gone wrong in this instance.

    At the end of last week I looked through our process to see what can be improved so that what happened to X’s partner doesn’t happen again and I have now put a procedure in place that will hopefully not allow this to happen again.

    • Kinda torn on this. On the one hand, I don’t like to see someone getting hit anonymously. On the other hand, it’s great when the comments on a post support the theory you’ve postulated!

      • Dialogue was constructive but one sided. Criticism was well received and invitation to discuss in detail was made. Dear Nick, James and X, there is only one thing left to do. Let’s have a beer.
        X where are you, seriously come out and finish what you’ve started as a real gentleman. Or there is no point?

      • Exactly, and without X’s comments we wouldn’t have been aware that anything was wrong with our process and that there has been a case when it has fallen down.

        If anything it has helped me to make sure what we say we do is actually what we do 100% of the time not 99% of the time

  7. […] As a result, I was recently at another HR industry event – leading me to write a short post on whether, based on energy expended, the Recruitment industry should rebrand itself the Rejection […]

  8. A great post James! I will make more of an effort to answer those who I reject as I hear what you’re saying but I will also continue to wonder why people leave themselves open to rejection by applying for roles that they clearly are not suited to….

  9. […] in developmental content. I’ve written before on the rejection aspect of recruitment (here and here) and the negative impact on a company’s brand – making learning materials […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: