Earlier this month I attended the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum, a brilliant conference that brought together the public and private sector.
As the title suggests, the programme of events was heavily focussed on the world of property and regeneration. In listening to one session on the importance of ‘the office’, I was struck by the lack of consideration for those that sit at the centre of an organisation, of a team…of an office. From a property perspective, the argument was clear but did little to focus on the perspective of individuals as people.
This same argument can often be made about how candidates are treated within a recruitment process. The end goal of making a successful appointment often overshadows the individuals within a process. Given there are more applicants than jobs within a process, we should focus on the importance of experience for all candidates.
A few weeks ago, my colleague David Weir wrote about how to make the most out of the Great Resignation, a series of thoughts on how the world is evolving post-pandemic. Central to this is the enlightened world of employees and individuals. We all recognise that as individuals we have more choice, and we should acknowledge this in a recruitment context. As you will see by the sheer volume of adverts in The MJ this week, the recruitment market is buoyant, and this extends into many sectors. There are more opportunities than ever for job seekers to explore and they will rightly be highly discerning about their next career move.
Within local government executive search, we are supporting people to make significant life decisions when applying for a new role. We are privileged to support their career and life ambitions, and this often means making significant life choices to move away from support networks or potentially relocating their family.
We are asking people to consider new opportunities while they are happy in their existing role and organisation. At a time of economic uncertainty, with the humanitarian impact of the pandemic still very real, the importance of experience to each individual candidate within a recruitment process is more critical than ever before.
The first interaction about the role, through every point of communication until the process is concluded leaves a lasting impression on that person about the organisation. It will influence how likely they are to accept the role, to recommend your organisation to a colleague, and even how well an individual performs within a recruitment process. Ultimately it will influence your chance of appointing the best person for the position – which, to many recruiting organisations is the only indicator of success from a recruitment process.
In our view, when you engage a recruitment partner, there is more than one objective. A successful appointment is the end destination but should not be the only goal and should not be held separate to the experience of candidates throughout the journey. The two are linked, and in our opinion, there should be a much greater focus on candidate experience when selecting your recruitment partner.
The approach embodies how we represent your strategic priorities and ambitions, but more importantly it is the manifestation of your employment and inclusion policies; poor candidate experience does nothing to celebrate or amplify these. You want a recruitment partner that will push you to articulate your employment proposition, but also work with you to build a narrative of how joining your organisation can benefit the individual. In the enlightened world we now exist in, we cannot ask candidates to demonstrate what value they bring, without first articulating the value you can provide to their career, family, and life.
It is a chance to refresh perceptions in the sector and animate your priorities and ambitions across a wider community. Candidate experience will influence how your organisation is perceived and is therefore a significantly underutilised positive power.
As a recruitment partner to local government and the wider public sector, it is imperative that we are tested on how we represent an organisation and the communities it serves. We want to be held accountable for how we represent your employment brand in the candidate market and measured on the quality of experience that candidates receive when engaging in a process.
Within the interim recruitment market this is easier to do, candidate experience is assessed on an annual basis by the Institute of Interim Management’s (IIM) annual survey. Within this, more than 4,000 interims working across all sectors are asked to respond to a survey which provides insights into the trends from the previous year. The IIM also asks interims to vote for their preferred recruitment company, as well as individual consultants. This provides excellent insight into those companies that prioritise the experience of the interim. The latest iteration of this survey will be published in the next few weeks.
Any recruitment process needs to be a learning experience for all those who engage in the conversation. A good candidate experience needs a human approach where people feel engaged and supported. Open and honest communication sits at the heart of the process and individuals should feel comfortable to perform at their best.
It requires a recruitment partner to spend time building relationships to understand a person’s motivators and aspirations and provide support in deciding if the position is right for them. With a more discerning candidate market every organisation needs a recruitment partner that will work for the interest of the individual as well as the organisation.
Trusting your recruitment partner to provide an exceptional candidate experience should be non-negotiable. It is the articulation of your organisation’s employment offer and the route to accessing the best candidates who can perform at their best within a process.
Put simply, it is the right thing to do by the individuals who invest time in applying for the position.
When you next embark on a recruitment campaign, how much emphasis will you give to the experience of the people who consider applying to your organisation and how that can positively impact your hiring decision?
Anthony Lewis is a director of Tile Hill.