Since COVID-19 became part of the vernacular, disruption has been the name of the game and no sector, industry or individual has been immune. This is particularly the case for recruitment. Much of the narrative has been around digitisation and the future of work yet it’s easy to overlook the individuals at the centre of this situation – job seekers.
The rise of application saturation
The world of recruitment has been impacted in extreme measures. On the one hand we’ve seen businesses suspend hiring, witnessed millions of existing employees placed on furlough and in some situations, businesses have closed permanently. But this is only half the story. The other is of booming businesses hiring staff – Amazon and the supermarkets, for instance – and of rapid bounceback of organisations desperately seeking reinforcements as we see an acceleration in commercial activity.
The data paints a contrasting picture. In the year to March, 813,000 jobs were lost in the UK, mainly in the hospitality and leisure sectors. But UK-wide vacancies surged by 16% in the first quarter of 2021 according to ONS figures, with pent-up demand from businesses preparing to re-open driving the shift.
While the outlook is more optimistic, the events of the last year or so have created an environment of application over-drive. It has bottle-necked more people for fewer roles and in doing so deluged the capacity and resources of businesses to properly analyse and assess applicants, let alone provide any feedback to them. It should therefore come as no surprise that recent research revealed that rejected candidates remain in the dark, with only 7% receiving feedback on their applications.
As we move from response to recovery, we have to do more to help people find new roles to match their potential.
Say no to silent rejection
Irrespective of the situation a business is in or the number of applications it receives for a role, silent rejection cannot – must not – be allowed to manifest itself as a trend. This is because while rejection is a necessary element of the process, providing a basic ‘thanks, but no thanks’ or simply ignoring unsuccessful applications altogether has ramifications for the individuals and wider economy.
When faced with a ‘no’, candidates are naturally disheartened but, more importantly, don’t learn anything from the process. With the candidate left in the dark, they miss out on vital feedback that could transform their job search. Anything from highlighting minor changes to their application responses to feedback on presentation or listening style can make a major difference to a candidate’s future choices and chance of success. At its most basic, feedback on someone’s natural strengths can frame how they approach their job search. If they’re applying for a job that isn’t actually suited to their strengths or just as bad, they are not applying for jobs they are suited to, they end up trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of rejection. On a more human level, aiding a candidate in their onward journey is surely something we would all aspire to deliver.
But there’s no need for this to be the case. One of the upsides of the pandemic has been its forcing hand in driving innovation and the opportunity to create a better future.
A new dawn for the hiring process
One of the groups particularly impacted by the pandemic has been younger workers – those who predominantly start in hospitality and leisure or entering into the jobs market for the first time. Coincidentally, it is this generation that thrives on feedback. It’s something that they, as digital natives, have been brought up with. The world of application feedback needs to catch-up. Not least because it is seemingly the last bastion of analogue interaction in the process. Technology has revolutionised the front end of the process better by making jobs easier to find, offering more information, and making the process more open and personal. The same can be done once the application has been submitted.
For businesses that want to be seen as empathetic, engaging and respectful, using technology to give feedback can go a long way. Aside from simply keeping up with the times and courtesy, providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates – or not – is likely to impact the perception of future applicants. Research has found that as many as half of job candidates won’t work for a company with a bad reputation while LinkedIn found that one in four candidates who had a negative experience would ‘actively discourage’ others from applying to that same company. Given employees’ ability to review companies and their experiences working there online, job seekers can (and will!) steer clear of workplaces that are seen in a negative light.
The upshot is that, with a thinner talent pool, businesses are at higher risk of hiring an unsuitable candidate – which has cost implications of its own. So, how can technology help?
See more than the CV
For a start, recruiters and hiring managers already have their hands full. Whether it’s screening CVs, scheduling interviews, or doing any of the other tasks associated with the application process, there’s not much free time left. Certainly not enough to hand out career tips to hundreds or thousands of unsuccessful applicants. But this is where technology can take the strain.
For instance, using a behaviour-based assessment (which combines neuroscience and data science to measure candidates on a wide range of attributes) in the process opens up new possibilities. Aside from the fact this type of analysis can critique a candidates’ aptitude, cognitive ability and unique behaviour in action, it is also designed by nature to be unique to each individual. This means businesses are provided with a tailor-made set of insights that can be sent to each candidate. This is feedback that can provide detailed insights for unsuccessful candidates, which will show them where their strengths lie to improve their career choices.
In doing so, it not only manages to address the candidate feedback dichotomy, but it also raises the employer brand.
Raising the bar in recruitment
This is paying it forward, in action. By empowering candidates with tangible, objective feedback, they’re armed with the knowledge around their suitability to the role that they’re applying for. Additionally, candidates out of work can even use these insights to upskill and find strengths in different areas that they didn’t know they had. All of which raises the bar in the talent pool, ensures the right people are applying for the right positions and saves vast amounts of time, money and effort at every stage of the selection process, which has a positive impact on the wider economy.
Perhaps, as far as recruitment goes, the economic recovery is less about ‘build back better’, but ‘feedback better’.