Thank You For Your Interest. Now Go Away.

Imagine this scene


You’re out shopping.  There’s quite a bit you need to buy and you’re getting frustrated because shop after shop doesn’t seem to stock what you want. And if they do, then invariably it’s the wrong size or colour.

Then you spot a new shop, one you haven’t seen on your High Street before. Looking through the window, you can see that it stocks much of what you’ve been trying to find. But it’s crowded, and you can’t really identify who is serving. There seem to be a few assistants but not enough to cope with the number of customers.

Undeterred you go in and start easing your way through the crowds. You can’t get close to the stock but from what you see it’s what you need. You start pushing through, looking for someone to serve you.

Suddenly you spot someone wearing a t-shirt bearing the shop name. At last, someone who can serve you! It’s been a long day of shopping with little reward and this is a great opportunity to get what you’ve been looking for.

You move towards the guy in the t-shirt – he appears to be free – but just as you’re about to reach him a bouncer appears from nowhere and blocks your path.

He stands there, arms folded, shielding the assistant from you. He hands you a card. It says…

‘Thank you for showing interest in our shop but as you can see we are very busy. Please go and wait at the back of the store. If no-one serves you within 5 minutes you can assume that we do not need your custom and you should leave’


Sounds preposterous, yet it’s exactly the ‘experience’ that we give many potential customers who apply to work in our companies.

Are companies ready to start recognising the importance of the ‘candidate experience’, the connection between candidate and consumer, between a poor recruiting experience and a decision to take your custom elsewhere? At both the recruiting conferences I’ve attended in the last week it’s been high on the agenda.

One speaker at Social Recruiting Conference said:

Recruitment isn’t a process it’s an experience

But then another said:

You’ll never have enough recruiters to handle all the applications you receive, it just won’t happen

To my mind that’s no different to saying – We’ll never have enough staff to serve all our customers – which is plain madness!

Maybe it’s a cost issue. We could hire more recruiters but we don’t feel able to justify the cost and manpower. We still don’t see the value in rejecting people well, in an informative way. A way that says – we haven’t got what’s right for you BUT WE CARE! Because we know that you have a choice where to spend your hard earned money.

Two final thoughts from the conference…

Matthew Jeffrey talked about recruitment moving from being a cost centre to a profit centre and Quezia Soares (Accenture) spoke of recruiters being marketers.

Maybe the times will be a-changing. Let me know what you think…

14 thoughts on “Thank You For Your Interest. Now Go Away.

  1. Merv, I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently and wrote something last week on a similar theme , suggesting that recruiters need to stop playing God. The response I got was mixed to say the least!! Sadly I think too many recruiters see candidates as an inconvenience and speak about them (to one another) in terms that can be really quite amazing.

    The point that I made, is that the dynamics of the labour market are shifting and over the next decade we are going to see shortages of supply and I honestly think this is going to require a step change – not in technology – but in mindset. I’d even go as far as saying that the current genre of recruiters could become obselete – if they can’t adapt then maybe the way is to bring different skills and experience into their roles from other fields.

  2. Like it Merv. A good point well made about the experience regardless of success or not. Unfortunately I think although people may understand this, practically they’ll make the excuses you’ve highlighted. Business/profit/revenue have to come before candidate experience. Who cares if they’re happy? If they’re good enough, they’ll be happy, right?

    In a different light, I wrote about the leaving experience of employees once they’ve decided to leave a company and what that experience is like >

  3. Merv,
    This is a good analogy. A few points relating to Accenture and Quezia Soares. Quezia is a marketeer by trade and was employed to implement recruitment marketing. Accenture have employed 150 people across the business to implement social in all areas. Recruiting is just a small part of it. Quezia is not expecting to see a return from the talent pool initiative for 3 years and are taking a long term view.
    Recruiters are hired to complete hires according to business need. By nature this means they are focussed on the transaction and getting the right people in to the business now.They are completers and sift the volume to identify who to approach and get in to the interview process. I have seen a similar situation with the corporate businesses I have been working with.In effect you need 2 teams. One to continue recruiting with a business need now approach and the other to engage, take a longer term view. Recruitment marketing where candidate experience is a big part of the role. It is hard to find a situation where a recruiter can wear both hats and act as a hybrid.
    Accenture do a great job of this because Quezia is a marketeer.

  4. Mervyn
    I like your thinking….as a recruiter I agree and it amazes me how little regard some recruiters place on managing candidates, both good and bad. I also agree with Neil, bad recruiters and agencies have always struggled to engage and add value to candidates. In my experience recruiters in “poor” agencies are underpressure to deliver against short term targets – as a result customer service and positive relationships go out of the window!

  5. Merv, I do agree 100% to what you are saying. I always stress to our hiring managers the fact that if we considered anyone who walks into our office for an interview or applies for one of our positions as a potential customer we would give these people a completely different experience, and that would also reflect on our employment brand.
    On the other hand I need to face the reality which, sometimes, is about going through hundreds or more applications per role, while I’m working on other 15-20 jobs and trying to manage all their applications at the same time. If I really wanted to do my job, according to what I preach, I would need 48 hours a day or more just to get back to every applicant. In my opinion the solution would be to employee more recruiters so we could handle the whole process in a much better way. However businesses don’t always agree with this as they see more recruiters as additional costs.
    I would be very interested in hearing from more people about a possible solution to this issue.

  6. Merv,

    Great to finally meet you last week at the #SRConf. Like Bill said, this is one good analogy. I wish I’d thought of it! To further your analogy, I believe the answer is a better mix of human interaction and technology – like Apple stores for instance. Their stores are complete heaving mad scene, but their checkout system makes it less likely people will get irritated with poor service and walk out without buying what they came for (and probably more).

    Good work.



  7. Interesting post Mervyn and I agree with Neil that the role of the recruiters both internally and externally needs to evolve as the labour market evolves.

    However, I disagree with Bill when he says “Accenture do a great job of this because Quezia is a marketeer”. I would imagine Accenture execute well because Quezia is a marketeer, but before Quezia there was someone who identified there was an opportunity to do something different, won organisational support to do this, established funding and actually on an ongoing basis provides Quezia with organisational cover in delivering what is without doubt a slow burn project. Also, Accenture have both the scale and resources to experiment and if it works turn it into a consulting stream that they implement for other organisations so ostensibly there is an R&D element to this activity from a corporate finance perspective.

    Some of the internal resourcers I have met in my time in fact are very capable of thinking of the operational recruitment requirement but also augmenting this with developing their attraction marketing HOWEVER they are not given or do not influence for the opportunity in the organisation. The organisational focus is on filling roles and any resource allocation to developing future is at the expense of day to day activity so the recruiter better be bloody sure it’s going to work otherwise they cut off their pipeline.

    If you take the viewpoint that organisations view recruitment as a largely tactical and operational activity (I’m sure someone once said recruitment was not strategic….now who was that?) making a step change in the investment in recruitment and specifically here attraction will require a step change in thinking at senior levels in organisations, or to return to your shop analogy – the bouncer ain’t gonna solve the problem, it needs to be across all the shops and be agreed to by the organisation.

  8. Nice post Merv and some great comments – but i would fire back at you and the other job boards – what are you guys doing about it? Your analogy works well but you missed out an important piece which puts in into context properly – the over supply of customers – in this case jobseekers. Shopping centres are self limiting through parking, floor space and so on. Job applications are not so defined or constrained.

    Claudio makes a good point – there are not enough hours in the day to respond in the way they want to.

    Notwithstanding that, Neil is right – For once 😉 – its about a mindset and Rob makes this point too. The resourcing function will evolve, be more joined up, and will deliver a more appropriate experience for candidates because it will have to. To not do so will become ever more damaging.

    The problem though is volume and the ‘response’ resourcing market we have found ourselves in. I took some stick after the conference for suggesting that the fact the industry has built up around generating response, rather than around proactive sourcing. “Get with the program – its where the money is” i was told!

    Job boards probably handle some 80% of the overall candidate application volume – you will know better than me. But they do little to filter it in anyway, instead creating this huge volume burden for the recruiter.

    You and i both know also, that even in the niche markets we worked in – Marketing and HR – the job boards we used delivered less than 1% application to placement ratio. And these were niche, leading players. Staggering. This means that recruiters are having to spend 90% of their time handling response from a mechanism that only delivers a small fraction of their hired talent.

    If you consider a mid level professional role, there is no more work involved to actively source that person v’s whacking up a job ad and sifting through the response. And there is far less disappointment. And thats now! Imagine how good sourcing could be if we applied the capability of tech to it, instead of it all being used to sift and manage ‘applicants.

    So back to you! What are you guys doing to:

    Reduce the volume of jobseekers and disappointment
    Increase the relevancy of candidates that come through your route

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s