For many people, communication is a learned skill. Very few people are born with that intangible that is sometimes referred to as the "gift of gab." My nephew has this skill: he can talk to any person about any topic under the sun quite convincingly. He could spin one learned fact about a turtle into a whole talk about sharks at the aquarium. But to many others, communication skills can often go overlooked. As a result, we don't always come across the way we intend to. How often have you sent an email or a text and wondered why someone responded strangely?
When it comes to recruiting, communication is the name of the game. Recruiters spend their entire careers communicating with others. They communicate with candidates, hiring managers, and executives. Ideally, recruiters should be among the strongest communicators in an organization. But why then do candidates have poor candidate experiences if the very people trying to attract them to the company are supposed to be experts at communication?
Recruiters, Learn to Speak Like a Candidate
Prior to meeting my husband, I remember going on a very awkward date with a recruiter. It wasn't just awkward, it was downright painful. I realized with fascination that he couldn't relate to me as most other people did. He was always trying to "drill down" on something. It made me feel defensive and uncomfortable. Did we really need to drill down on why I enjoy one kind of music over another? One date with him was exhausting and I ran screaming into the night. Well, not literally. But he never heard from me again. While he was terrible at relating to a potential mate, it really made me think of how uncomfortable some recruiters can make candidates feel. The recruiting process isn't about trying to drill someone like they're a witness in court. It should be a personal experience where you get to know a candidate. Only by getting to know them can you assess whether this person would make a good fit at your organization. Perhaps it's time we think about the way candidates communicate their experience. Can we use the way they communicate to improve our recruiting process? Try the following:
- Show enthusiasm for the candidate. The candidate you're speaking to wants to feel as if they're the only person you're talking to, not a number in your applicant tracking system. They don't want to feel like number 27894B. Isn't it time recruiters really started to relate to them in a more personal way? What happened to the art of conversation? Is applicant screening all buzz word identification now? While time is money, there's a better way to communicate. If screening is simply too time consuming, streamline the process with video interviews. Select some personalized questions and let the candidate answer at their leisure. You, in turn, can view and assess these interviews at your leisure. There's no need to skip the niceties to hammer someone about their resume.
- Communicate the process. We've all got expectations of interview processes. Sometimes, recruiters miss the mark here. A candidate expects to hear from a recruiter that their application was received, that they will reach out to them, schedule an interview, and close out their file with a decision. Unfortunately, some recruiters stall out after a phone screen. Ah the dreaded phone screen. Does anyone like being ambushed on the phone? Passive candidates fear the phone screen at work. Unemployed candidates fear the phone screen while they're in a bad service area like the bank or the grocery store. Shouldn't recruiters instead reach out digitally and communicate a time to coordinate a screening interview? The process would be so much more enjoyable without having to stammer into the phone that you're shopping for tonight's dinner at the moment. Beyond the screen, many recruiters fall short of communicating the process. Candidates don't want to feel like they've been left out of the process. It's very personal to candidates and when that's not being respected, they can have a very poor candidate experience.
- Build upon the excitement and brief hiring managers. Candidates get excited about interviews. It's one step closer to a wonderful new job. But when they get to the main interview, sometimes the wind gets taken out of their sails. Despite having a wonderful rapport with the recruiter, the hiring manager has no clue who they are or why they were selected to interview. Nothing kills a candidate's confidence faster than failing to communicate with a hiring manager. It's as easy as an email with a few bullet points- candidate skill you were impressed with, personality fit, work ethic, you name it. Don't turn off candidates before they get a chance to really get going.
- Drop the acronym soup. Candidates don't usually speak in buzz words and acronyms. But they can tell you more nuanced answers than your buzz words will tell you if you have a sincere conversation with them. You may be looking for the candidate to say they're familiar with Constant Contact. But what you may fail to miss is their advanced html email building capabilities which spans across multiple email marketing platforms. Have a sincere conversation with your client and get to know them outside of the job description you've created. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover more than you desired.
Communications is one of those skills that's a life long learning process. It's not usually learned overnight. Recruiters need to keep in mind that the way in which they communicate with candidates is shaping not only their opinion of them personally, but the company and their overall candidate experience. By adopting these simple changes, recruiters can relate better to candidates and improve the recruiting process.