Companies can’t look after their customers so why do you think they’ll look after their candidates?

I wasn’t able to log on to my mobile phone account last week and 45 minutes, 1 bot, 2 customer reps and 3 hand-offs later, I was told ‘we can’t find a record of your account’.

And I suspect many of you will have experienced far worse examples of customer service over the last few months, whether it be with banks, broadband, utility providers and so on.

Now this isn’t a rant about poor customer service but for me, it was a realisation that if organisations are still struggling to provide an effective service to existing customers who can take their business elsewhere,
they are unlikely to be able to prioritise a great candidate experience right now.

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This is brought into sharp focus as the rise of people looking for jobs is likely to climb at its steepest ever rate between now and the end of the year. To put it simply, as the power has now shifted from candidates to companies, basic economic theory tells you there is less reason to spend more money on attraction and candidate experience. I know there are arguments about the long term impact on employer brand and reputation but the reality is, in order to be here for the long term, in a crisis you have to make it through the short term.

Still not convinced?

Let’s take the example of British Airways. They plan to fire 42000 staff and hire back 30000 on reduced contracts? Why are they doing that? Because they believe they must and they’ll be painfully aware of the impact on their employer brand.

So if this all sounds a bit dystopian I don’t mean it to be. Because what I think needs to happen is that for the foreseeable future
employers think less about providing a great candidate experience
and more about providing one that just isn’t bad.

And this starts with the most basic activity: ensuring every rejected application gets a response. It still astonishes me that once you get outside of structured hiring projects the proportion of candidates who never get any reply, never mind feedback, in incredibly high – over 50% according to our estimates.

Poor candidate experience is also exacerbated by making it incredibly easy for anyone to apply and driven by organisations having this warped mindset of too often boasting when they get thousands of applications for a job. So really, they need to help themselves by making it harder to apply.

I’m conscious that I’m dangerous generalisation territory here. Clearly with business critical roles a great candidate experience is paramount. Likewise, efforts to attract more diverse candidates need to be grounded in a great candidate experience.  But there are others actors in this play, not least tech firms that create ‘one click apply’ and candidates who spray their applications far and wide. A job is an employment relationship, and like any relationship if one party has an attitude of ‘this will do until something better comes along’ then don’t be surprised if you get ghosted.

Candidate experience is complicated and, as with most things, there is no one size fits all solution. But in today’s market, aiming for a consistent basic level of candidate experience should be the focus. Our own contribution to raising standards is our Talent Acquisition benchmark programme. Candidate experience is one of the key areas we help you understand and we provide both a comparison of how well you’re doing in this area as well as ideas on how you can improve. The link is here https://benchmark.talint.co.uk/

Now, back to sorting out my mobile phone.

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