Too much time goes into the nuts and bolts of the recruitment process, with a significant emphasis on cost-cutting and the use of technology, and too little into understanding what it feels like for a candidate to walk that journey. We know, and grudgingly accept, that the recruitment process takes time. Yet, we haven’t considered the reality of the experience for the candidate and whether or not this is enhancing the process or potentially causing the individual to reconsider their interest in both the role and the organisation.

It is a journey

With the average recruitment cycle lasting three months, we cannot describe the process as anything short of a journey for all concerned. Much of this journey is frustrating as communication channels tend to stall and processes are not always as clearly explained as we’d like them to be. I have always prided myself on my willingness to hold hands with my candidate and client in the journey and to guide them through a highly frustrating process, seemingly littered with hoops that need jumping.

This experience led me to develop my Assured Recruitment Service, which seeks to identify the obstacles and booby traps that typically litter the recruitment process and to ensure that I guide my client and candidate, from the beginning, to avoid these – wherever possible – or to be prepared to tackle them.

Mapping the journey

When did you last sit down and map out the journey of getting hired into your organisation?

Each process step should be mapped from both the organisation’s and the candidate’s point of view. For example, what needs to happen in each of the recruitment phases: – (1) Discovery, (2) Attraction, (3) Application, (4) Hiring, and let’s not forget (5) Transition, and finally, (6) Onboarding.

The process of drawing up the process and the possible routes that could be followed by different candidates – both successful and unsuccessful – helps to identify areas that could get an overhaul or where there are missing pieces. Making this candidate journey map available as part of your careers website could also contribute towards a positive talent brand as applicants appreciate transparency and the tools needed to manage their time and expectations.

At TSR, we’re committed to walking the journey as a guide, helping to navigate the route, and ensuring that everyone keeps pace and meets expectations, enabling a more innovative hire.

It’s all about the experience

Even if an organisation has mapped the journey, taking into account the timeframes, actions and explanations required for the candidate, the experience only sometimes matches up. For example, when did someone in HR go through the process from the outside as if they were a candidate? Simply doing this could unearth frustrations that may not have been obvious when looking from the outside in.

The tone of communication, timing of responses, accessibility and ease of use will all impact the experience. Even the most sophisticated and well-thought-through recruitment process could scupper efforts to maintain a high Employer Talent Brand.

Overly simplistic or standardised processes can inadvertently cause problems too. Applicants will vary significantly across the board, and their expectations and experience will differ too. Consider the role you’re recruiting for when considering any tweaks you may have to make to your process and your engagements.

Beware of too much tech

The use of technology may improve the efficiency of administering the process, but it, unfortunately, tends to have negative repercussions on the candidate experience. An example springs to mind of a candidate who had the misfortune of being guided (by Artificial Intelligence, of course) through an online application process that inevitably led him to spend 2 hours one Sunday afternoon completing a series of case studies and assessments. His horrific disbelief at the process culminated when he received an auto-regret within 60 seconds of submitting this work. It is impossible that a real-life human being assessed his work; much of it was written in essay format, within this timeframe, on a Sunday of all days. One can only assume that something he entered in a fixed field on the application form discounted him. Yet, the assessment process needed to consider this early enough to avoid putting a candidate through to the second leg of the journey. His experience was so bad that he refused even to use the services of this company, never mind considering working for them in the future. And with social media rife, he undoubtedly shared  his frustrations with his network.

Technology, effectively deployed, can help to streamline processes but should always consider user experience. What may seem obvious to the platform designer, their salespeople and even your in-house team is only sometimes so to the average job seeker. Something as simple as access to a mobile phone is critical. The vast majority of South Africans access the Internet off their phones, and with small screens and high data costs, their experience could be hugely impacted. Before going to the expense associated with these tools, consider running a test with the individuals who make up the bulk of your applicant base to understand whether their experience with your product will achieve your goals or if you risk alienating the very people you’re trying to attract.

I want to challenge that the candidate journey, and ultimately the successful hiring of talent, would be significantly improved if the same amount of time spent loading details onto a TA system was finished in actual engagement with prospective talent. This will be a step in the right direction.