Recruiters need to add value to candidates in order to survive!

Recruiters and candidates are frequently complaining about each other on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Candidates are frustrated with receiving messages about irrelevant jobs, receiving little or no feedback on their interviews and having their CV sent speculatively to 100’s of companies without their permission.

As recruiters we need to acknowledge that a candidate has more options than ever before for applying for a vacancy. According to Recruitment International

On average, 221 new agencies were registered in each of first four months of 2017 compared to an average of 380 that registered each month during the whole of 2016. This brings the total number of recruitment agencies in the UK to a record-high of 27,788 – a three-fold increase since January 2012, and a rise of 18,158 in just five years”

Consequently there are more agencies competing for the same candidates and the above figures only take into account companies in the UK. In addition to this, companies are advertising their vacancies directly on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and recently launched Google Hire. Internal recruitment teams have also been on the rise in the last 5 years and there is still the traditional job boards for candidates to access the latest vacancies.

Taking the above into account, it is essential recruiters deliver a quality service and candidate experience that adds value. Recruiters need to give candidates a reason to use their service and why they should be the preferred option over the multiple choices a candidate now has to apply for a job.

Over the years I have heard terrible candidate service provided by recruiters, and it is no wonder that candidates complain. Some of the more memorable and frequent examples I have listed below.

“I will send you a link to the company website to do research” – This was their summary on the company. Seriously.

Are we assuming a candidate does not know how to find a company website through Google! How does that add any value to a candidate? A candidate can find the website and read through the “About us” section. A candidate deserves a better service than that. What inside information can we provide them about the company? Information on strategy, products, key personnel, interviewing styles, retention rates, career progression, salary structure etc.

“Unfortunately your interview was not successful but the client has not told me why” – Or has the recruiter asked why? A candidate that has given up his or her time to attend an interview, deserves to know why they were not successful. As a recruiter we can add value to the candidate by providing feedback to use for future interviews and to also to stop the candidate wondering what they did wrong.

“I can’t tell you the name of the company until the client confirms interest in your profile”. A recruiter that says this in my opinion has no confidence in their relationship with that particular client. I have had occasions when a client has specifically instructed me that I can’t disclose the name of their business to candidates. The only reason I have had, is because they are looking to replace a current member of staff who has not resigned from the business. This is always a sensitive search to perform and for good reason a client would not want their name disclosing until the appropriate stage.

However I once questioned a recruiter on their approach to not disclosing the name of the client. Their response “I’m concerned the candidate will apply directly or inform another recruiter”. The problem here and the majority of the time a recruiter says the above is because the job they are trying to fill a job that has gone to multiple agencies. It is not exclusive or retained work. They also have little or no knowledge about the job to talk to the candidate about.

I responded to this particular recruiter, “Is your relationship with your client so poor, that if one recruiter found out about the vacancy and called them, they would immediately start working with this agency? Do you also have no trust in your candidate, yet expect them to tell you about their salary, reasons for leaving, personal circumstances etc.”

My policy is to tell candidates the name of the employer. How can a candidate decide on their interest in an opportunity without the name of the employer? What happens if you put a candidate forward for a role without the candidate having knowledge of the name of the company? The candidate might not want to work with this company or already has an application there.

Talking to a candidate about the specific job and company is one of the key opportunities for a recruiter to add value to the candidate, by providing information that they can’t find online or by applying directly. If after providing this information the candidate chose to apply directly, I think that tells you everything you needed to know about the candidate. On the very rare occasions this has happened to me, the client usually disregards the candidate’s application.

However, if as recruiters we make the candidate feel we can add value to them through the process and ultimately increase the chances of them securing the job, recruiters will be the preferred method for candidates searching for employment.

Providing regular feedback to a candidate is another an opportunity to add value. Candidates are frustrated with applying to a job portal/job board and they receive no anticipated timeline on when to expect an answer on their CV, no feedback on their CV, how many candidates have been selected for interview, if they are not selected, why not? The list could go on and ultimately it can leave a lot of unanswered questions for a candidate.

Now it would be a very hard task for a recruiter to respond to every applicant that applied for a position with reasons why they are not considered for the position. However, is it too much work to update every candidate we have submitted for a position?

I’m not writing this claiming to be perfect in my approach. Nevertheless, I understand the success of my business going forward will be based on my ability to continue to attract candidates to work with me. As people with far more experience in recruitment than me have claimed, in particular Greg Savage, “the only recruiters who thrive are those who can find candidates for their clients that those clients cannot find themselves!” 

A quality and value added service is only part of what is required to survive, but without it, recruiters will miss opportunities, candidate referrals and repeat business.

My advice to candidates is to assess the recruiter you are working by checking the following

-      How much information have they given you about the role that is not on the job description or found through an online advertisement?

-      What is the recruiter’s track record with this client? Have they successfully recruited for them before?

-      What have they told you about the client?

-      What information has been provided on the interview process? Can the recruiter clearly explain the steps involved, the types of interview and the expected timeline for the interview process to be completed? This is really important and can put you at an advantage over candidates that have applied directly, especially if the recruiter can prepare you for the types of questions to expect and interviewer style. A recruiter should also be able to provide any concerns that have arisen in the first interview for you to overcome in the next round of interviews. This is information a candidate would not receive if they applied directly to the company.

Nothing in this blog is what I would consider revolutionary. However, I hope it provides recruiters with an opportunity to reflect on the service we are providing and how it can be improved. As for candidates, be selective about the recruiter you work with. 

Posted by Adam O'Donnell

Adam holds a BSc in Business Studies & Management from a Top 10 UK University and has been with Leap29 since 2009. He is currently Operations Manager for professional services, which includes Banking, Finance and Legal. He is also a Member of the Chartered Management Institute (MCMI). Adam was recently part of a four person shortlist out of 1000 applicants for Recruiter of the Year in the North West of the UK.