Lost Communication in an Age of Information

The blessings of technology have allowed us to connect with more people faster than ever before.  From an industry that not too long ago relied exclusively on personal networks and business contacts, we’ve left the proverbial horse in the dust, and the recruiting industry has become a high-speed train, a hypersonic jet, a lightsail.  Facing historically low unemployment, the speed of technology has helped businesses win top talent in a very tight 2019 labor market.

“Change is inevitable, change will always happen, but you have to apply direction to change, and that’s when it’s progress.”  

– Doug Baldwin

Running a full desk in the recruiting industry, a significant portion of my day-to-day responsibility is found on the sales side of the table.  Any honest salesperson will tell you, it can be frustrating and at times challenging, to not take personally the many times you never hear back from a prospective client.  No picked up calls, returned calls, replies to emails, or responses to InMail inquiries on LinkedIn

Sales are a crucial aspect of successful organizations, a lifeline to the long term viability of any business.  But as a seasoned salesperson, I don’t often live or die by every single sales call; rather, each sales call incrementally affects the plus or minus on my overall income statement.  

With this in mind, I put myself into the shoes of a job seeker.  Job seekers come from all experience levels, functions, and socio-economic backgrounds, but more often than not, they come without a background in sales.  They have differing motivations for seeking out new opportunities. Perhaps unhappy with their current role or employer. Maybe in the market as a result of a recent relocation.  Or without employment for any number of reasons, too numerous to list here. In common amongst all of these job seekers, their success or lack of success in closing a deal with a potential new employer can entirely affect their ability to pay the bills for mortgages, autos, utilities, tuition, or fund his or her retirement.  
If it’s frustrating for a seasoned sales person to hear nothing back from a prospective client, how immensely frustrating must it be for a job seeker who has so much on the line?
According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 219 applicants for each position a company posts on a job board, which means that at least 218 prospective candidates are deemed not a fit before a position is ultimately filled.  That’s 218 candidates for each position that were rejected, and the potential for 218 real people, often local, who could potentially be immensely frustrated by the actions or inactions of an organization.  Let’s take that a step further. What if a company has 10 job openings? That’s the potential for 2,180 disgruntled job seekers.  What if a company has 50 jobs? That’s 10,900 candidates, living and working in the community, that could potentially have something disparaging to say about a prospective local employer.  Over a period of time, it’s easy to see how this could impact an employer’s brand.

How will 218 rejected candidates influence your recruiting success in 2020 and beyond?

A recent survey conducted by Future Workplace and CareerArc, received 1,054 total respondents, including 616 employers and 438 job seekers.  Results of that survey found that:

  • 61% of job seekers first visited a company’s online properties before applying
  • 33% of job seekers shared at least one negative review of a previous or prospective employer
  • 55% of job seekers who read a negative review decided against applying for a position at a particular company
  • Employees and job seekers who do leave online negative reviews are 66% more likely to spread those opinions on social media, compared to those who only share their opinions directly with a friend or colleague
  • 99% of employers surveyed believe managing employer brand and reputation is important to attracting top talent, but only 45% devote HR resources to protecting employer brand

According to Future Workplace and CareerArc, “65% of candidates say they never, or rarely, receive notice about their application.  When they don’t hear back, 85% doubt that a human being ever reviewed their application. Of those that do receive a notification, 51% say it takes one month or more to receive it.  Candidates who are NOT informed about their application are 3.5x LESS LIKELY to re-apply to that company.” In their survey, they also ask the question, “What should employers improve most?”  While “55% of employers think candidates want a better online application or interview process, 60% of candidates say better communication throughout and after the applicant process, would make the most positive impact.”

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

– Malcom S. Forbes

Over the last twenty years, recruiters have gone from “riding horses,” connecting in-person and mailing actual letters to candidates and clients, to riding the “high speed train” of online job boards, social media, email, texting, digital interviews, video conferencing, as well as online personality and aptitude testing, among other technologies.  Although Quovis uses many of these same tools, we’ve always prided ourselves on connecting with people in a very personal manner.

Recently, we decided to conduct our own survey of candidates considered for our clients over the past 12 months.  Much of the feedback we received was extremely positive, with more than 95% of respondents indicating that Quovis demonstrated a better understanding of our clients, as well as a better understanding of the positions for which we were recruiting, as compared to other firms.  

Unfortunately, even though we landed in the top quartile with regard to how we were viewed as compared to other recruiting firms, the vast majority of respondents recommending us to other potential candidates, we were surprised and disappointed in some of the feedback several candidates provided.  

Only 59% felt that we kept them highly informed throughout the process in an organized and timely manner, an area in which we believed we were taking special care.  A point of pride has become an area in which we evidently still have work to do. We all have work to do.  If a recruiting firm with predominantly favorable ratings still has 41% of candidates desiring to be better informed, imagine what candidates would say about the bottom three quartiles of recruiting firms.

Breakdowns in communication can stem from a multitude of sources, from feedback delays between recruiters, hiring managers, and interview teams, to communications sent via applicant tracking systems getting caught up in spam filters.  There are many things that we should all be doing to positively impact employer brand through improved candidate experience.  Whether agency or corporate, more important than expediency, frequent, clear and consistent communication is paramount to the long-term preservation of company image.

There was a time when every town saw its first automobile, then it’s second, it’s third, and so on and so forth, until gradually there were more cars in town than there were horses.  In each and every town, there was always one last person riding a horse.  To resist the new on principle of maintaining the status quo is a fool’s errand; however, embracing it without regard to what we’re leaving behind is just as foolhardy.

The merit of riding a horse, over many other modes of transport, is that it provides a unique visual perspective, an ability to overcome more obstacles, and an opportunity for a more personal connection to the outside world.  Leverage technology, enjoy the speed of change, but also remember the importance of slowing down just long enough to ensure proper communication. Not to beat a dead horse, but your brand depends on it!

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