How your recruitment practices could be compromising your brand

Have you ever thought about the reputation your company holds in the marketplace?  Burberry think about theirs a great deal – to the extent in the last five years, they have destroyed more than £90m worth of excess stock.  With its familiar check pattern, the Burberry brand struggled to maintain its exclusive reputation following a period of counterfeiting.  Destroying old stock ensures that the items can’t be stolen or sold cheaply, ensuring Burberry can hang onto its upmarket reputation.

When we think about having a successful business brand, we tend to think about creating a business that people want to come and work for – not just because their industry or product is appealing, but because the culture is positive and appealing and there are opportunities for personal growth.

But here’s the thing, if you are not getting recruitment right, there’s a good chance your business has a horrible reputation in the marketplace that you’ll never even know about.  Here’s why.

Recruitment is a real pain for businesses – HR teams are too busy, managers are too busy, no one has time to do interviews, it takes ages, agencies are full of idiots, etc. etc…  Yes, we get it.  So a lot of businesses make the fundamental mistake of thinking that the best possible way to get their vacancies filled is to farm their roles out to lots and lots of agencies (the cheapest ones, ideally) and get them to send as many CVs as possible.  The recruiters don’t have any relationship with the hiring managers, they just receive the vacancies from HR, and then it’s a race to find and submit candidates.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, just put yourself in the shoes of the best candidate on the market, who probably receives half a dozen calls from half a dozen agencies about the same job, within half an hour of the role being farmed out to agencies.  None of the agencies really know anything about the role, or the company culture, because they’ve never met the hiring manager or had a conversation with him.  In fact, they seem to be in a terrible hurry and really pressurising the candidate for permission to send his CV.  And that’s the half-decent agencies that have the courtesy to call the candidate first, rather than just flinging his CV over without permission.

Will this individual want to come and work for your business?  They might be a little put off by your slovenly recruitment practices… but if they are still interested, and the wrangling over who submitted their CV first can be resolved, you’ll probably want to invite them for an interview.  The hiring manager is really busy, so you suggest a date that’s a couple of weeks away.  The candidate agrees to the date, and the interview is booked in.

The interview date arrives.  The candidate pulls out.  He’s found another role.  Your process was too slow.  You’ve missed out.

Back to the drawing board.

You start the process again, making every mistake you made the last time around, and the time before that.  Those half a dozen recruiters start to lose interest.  In fact, when they talk to candidates about your business, they are getting a lukewarm response.  Some candidates have had their CVs submitted before, but didn’t get any feedback, which upset them.  Some of them had interviews, and never got feedback, which upset them.  Some of them heard from their colleagues that they had a bad experience when they went for a job with your company, so they are not interested.

In short, everyone has heard of you, but no one really wants to come and work for you.

So if you’re not recruiting the top talent in the marketplace, who do you think is recruiting them?

Spoiler: it’s your competitors.

It’s time to protect your brand.  Burn your old stock (or rather, your old recruitment practices).  Here’s how.

  • Don’t select a recruitment partner based on cost. Why do you think cheap agencies are cheap?  Do you want to work with a capable consultant with industry knowledge, or an office junior on their first week on the job?
  • Start a dialogue between the hiring manager and the recruiter. HR play an important role but ultimately no one knows better than the hiring manager what each new recruit will be walking into, and your recruiter will need to know in order to sell the business to the candidates.
  • Don’t pit agencies against each other. There’s no point.  A good agency working solo will deliver better results much quicker.
  • Agree a recruitment plan. Then you will know when to expect CVs, when you need to deliver feedback, what dates the candidates will be interviewed, right through to when the new starter is likely to join the team.  This will prevent delays that cause the recruitment to take too long and risk good candidates pulling out of the process.
  • Don’t waste time looking for a ‘perfect’ fit. An individual’s behaviour, motivation and potential are just as important as their skills on paper – use psychometric testing to gain extra insight. Remember that the best person for the job may not be the finished article just yet – that can be a good thing as they won’t get bored if they are constantly learning.
  • Make sure you impress prospective candidates. Give them a tour of the offices, show them where they would be sitting, and introduce them to some team members.  It’s a two-way process, after all.
  • Make sure your on-boarding process is just as good as your recruitment process. Candidates are vulnerable in their first few weeks, and if their former employer has struggled to replace them, they’ll be trying to lure them back.  Don’t be complacent.  Look after them.  Set goals together.  Make them a cheerleader for the brand you have built.

Ultimately if you want to attract talented individuals, your business needs to be as attractive from the outside as it is from the inside – don’t let a sloppy or negligent approach to recruitment ruin your reputation.