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It's time to focus on Candidate care

By Connie Barrow, Armchair Group

September 12 2014 - I'm hardly breaking new ground by stating that the recruitment industry has an image problem. A quick Google search for 'recruiters' tells its own sorry story.

Unfortunately the negative feeling and publicity surrounding recruitment agencies is largely self inflicted. Like any industry there are great practitioners and there are cowboys operating in the space. The actions of the cowboys end up creating industry stereotypes that are hard to shake.

The problem is a widespread disregard for one of the fundamentals in any service business, customer service. Candidates are the worst effected and it's the topic of candidate care I wish to focus on in this article; however it's worth noting that clients aren't immune to the shortcomings of customer service provision in recruitment agencies.

Candidate care

Lack of response is one of the most frequent cited complaints amongst candidates. Not calling back and failure to answer calls or return emails can be sources of great frustration for jobseekers. When you combine this negative experience with the stress of changing jobs you have a recipe for candidate hostility towards recruiters.

Don't be fooled into believing that your candidates owe you gratitude simply because you are helping them find employment or career progression. Candidates increasingly expect more from recruiters. Delivering good service consistently to candidates is paramount in developing a strong brand as a recruitment consultant and is the bedrock for long term success built around long term relationships.

Should recruitment agencies be concerned about candidate care?

One criticism levelled at recruitment agencies is that they value money above all else. But it is my solemn belief that pursuing new business at the expense of candidate care is myopic at best and injudicious at worst.

Agencies clearly place a lot of importance on clients; after all they pay the bills. But without a reliable pool of candidates, or the ability to quickly source suitable candidates a recruitment agency is of no real value to its client.

Let me finish by giving you five reasons why it really pays to improve candidate care:

1. Repeat customers cost less than new ones.

One of the oldest adages in marketing and it is highly relevant to recruitment agencies. There is a cost involved in attracting the right candidates through job postings online; wouldn't it be great if before even posting a vacancy you have a list of ideal candidates ready to send through to the client?

Candidates that have been properly cared for throughout the process are far more likely to be receptive to new opportunities you present. One well cultivated candidate relationship can generate fees for many years to come.

2. Missing out on potential candidates

The job specifications that recruiters publish are rarely perfect. Like it or not job seekers will always have questions to ask. A jobseeker doesn't want to go through all the effort of Tailoring a CV and crafting a covering letter only to find the position has been filled or the role isn't really suitable for them.

If you want to attract high quality candidates then you have to be prepared to answer queries. Nothing is more frustrating than being given a contact name and number on the job advert only to be greeted with a voicemail.

At Armchair Answercall we take hundreds of calls every week from potential candidates attempting to contact recruiters. Without our message taking services many high quality candidates would have abandoned their application.

3. Word of mouth is important in every industry.

Never underestimate the impact of word of mouth. News of a bad recruiter spreads amongst friends and professionals alike. Ask yourself this question; during your time in recruitment have you always treated the candidate the way you would wish to be treated? If you answered yes, congratulations, you are in the minority.

A candidate that doesn't meet the requirements of the role today deserves to be treated with respect; after all in the future they might be the perfect fit for a future vacancy. A candidate that is treated fairly and responded to in good time is far more likely to refer someone to your agency regardless of whether you placed them or not.

4. Satisfy your clients needs faster

Having a healthy volume of candidate relationships allows you to put forward candidates at a faster rate. The quicker your client can fill a position, the more money they save.

Strong candidate relationships breed strong client relationships which of course mean more potential revenue and repeat business.

5. Competitive advantage over rivals

Last but by no means least, a strong focus on candidate care is a potential source of competitive advantage. Recruitment is an industry where many claim to be different but few truly are.

A strong focus on candidate care will set you apart from many. You will attract and retain higher numbers of quality candidates and the costs associated with attracting candidates and clients will fall.

More about the author

Connie Barrow

Connie Barrow is Operations Director of Armchair Group, a telephone answering service based in Hampshire, England, Where she is responsible for the efficient running of all of Armchair's inbound and Outbound call centre activities.

Connie leads all aspects of operational management within the group, this includes client liaison and reporting and recruitment and training of all staff.

Connie has overseen the recruitment and training of hundreds of staff members across the group and has helped develop the customer service and candidate sourcing strategies of 50 Recruitment agencies in the United Kingdom over the past decade.
Twitter: @armchairgroup

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