Serving the Candidate as a Customer

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As humans, it is natural to have certain reactions when we meet a new person. These reactions shape our perception of the other person. They also determine whether or not we want to continue to engage with that other person. If the experience with the other person is positive, we enjoy our mutual interactions and look forward to extending the time we spend with each other. If the experience of engagement is negative, most of us look forward to cutting off the time spent with that other person as quickly as we can.

With this in mind, the recruitment role taken on by the human resources practitioner can make or break a candidate’s job-seeking fortunes. As recruiters, we may find ourselves reacting to a particular candidate based on our own individual and personal perspectives. If the personal reaction is positive, the recruitment process with that candidate continues. If the reaction is negative, the process with that candidate stops. Either way, our responses as recruiters, in this type of approach, are based on our own self-interests and are not in support of the best interests of the organization that we must represent. The results from this type of approach are not good: the business interests of the organization are not met; the valid interests of the job-seeking candidate are not met; and the legitimate interests of meeting our human resources’ legal, ethical, and professional obligations are not met.

In order to meet the legitimate interests of the business and recruitment process, viewing the candidate as a customer can provide assistance in shaping the recruiter’s frame of reference. A customer service approach for the recruiter is explored in this article posted by HRD magazine.

As noted in the article, when the recruiter is able to use a customer service-based approach, the candidate and the recruiter both experience a better process. The result may be the same in that the candidate is not the successful choice for the organization; however, the credibility of the hiring process and its results are not put at risk when the recruiter has done their job by serving in the best interests of others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you experienced ‘ghosting’ by a recruiter during a job application process as a candidate, what impressions were you left with of the recruiter and the company you wanted to join? Would you re-apply as a candidate in the future?
  2. From an HR perspective, how can you monitor and adapt your personal reactions (positive or negative) during the recruitment process in order to maintain objectivity and reduce recruitment risks?
  3. In your opinion, what is the value of using a customer service-based approach for job candidates? Explain your rationale.

Stretching the Truth like Silly Putty

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During recruitment interviews, HR professionals would love to give potential future employees a 100% rating, but not for the reasons one would think of.

A research study from the University of Guelph has identified that 100% of employment candidates lie, stretch the truth, or exaggerate during the employment interview process. These results should have all HR professionals asking questions like:

  • What conclusions can be drawn from this?
  • Does this mean all potential employees are liars?
  • Is a certain amount of lying acceptable?
  • Is this a systemic issue with HR’s recruitment methods?

What should be done to address this pervasive lying from potential employees? The research does not provide many answers. The study, however, does suggest that the level of competition may play a factor in the tendency for the candidate to lie, but not in the way one would think.

The research shows that if there is a fewer number of candidates competing for a job position, the tendency to lie during an interview will increase. For more details, click here to read the CBC article.

Perhaps the only way to overcome this is with direct confrontation, where recruiters can leave a copy of this research for the candidates to read at the start of an interview, and at the end of the interview, ask the candidate, “Was there at any time during this interview that you lied, stretched the truth, or exaggerated?” If the candidate answers “no,” since 100% of employment candidates lie, now you will know the “truth”!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research how to make employment interviews more reliable and valid. Make a list of potential ideas for improvement that you find the most beneficial.
  2. Imagine you are a recruitment consultant who is making a pitch to a potential client about why your recruitment methods are better than your competitors’. Complete a 5-minute presentation to outline your methods.

Search Firms – Yes or No?

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Recruiting agencies, talent search firms, executive recruiting companies, head hunters – all of these provide recruitment and staffing services for businesses who may not be able to or want to carry out a recruitment process internally. The decision to use an external search firm for recruitment purposes is usually based on the availability of common business variables such as time, money, and resources. It may be a more efficient approach to use an external recruiting firm if the internal resources are not available to complete the tasks. Having said that, not all recruitment campaigns benefit from the use of an external process or firm.

The opportunities for and challenges of outsourcing recruitment campaigns are reviewed in Canadian Business’ online magazine.

Click here to read the article.

As noted in the article, the issue of cultural fit is one of the concerns that must be addressed. It is critical that an external recruiter has more than the basic understanding of the technical qualification and skills requirements needed for the position to be filled. Effective recruiters must be able to ascertain or assess whether or not the potential candidate will ‘fit’ the organization’s cultural needs, before offering the candidate into the field for consideration.

The issue of cultural fit is a tricky one to navigate, especially for public sector organizations. An example of this may be provided through the recent recruitment scandal connected to the hiring campaign for the position of Commissioner with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). An executive search firm was hired on behalf of the provincial government to conduct the campaign at a cost of forty thousand taxpayer dollars. It is not unusual for public sector organizations to use executive search firms, given the constraints and obligations to ensure that taxpayer money is used in open and transparent process for all involved. Unfortunately, this particular campaign resulted in the controversial appointment of an allegedly unqualified individual with political and social connections to the current premier of the province. The appointee eventually withdrew from the process, but the impact of the scandal remains.

Click here to read about the search firm conducting the OPP recruitment campaign.

One could argue that the appointment was based on ‘cultural fit’ factors. These factors, however, have the taint of political manipulation which infected the entire process including the reputation of the search firm itself. This is most unfortunate given the fact that search firms do not make the final hiring decisions, the organization’s leaders do.

Using an external search firm does not provide for the abdication of decision making responsibility on the part of the employer. While the process itself may be outsourced, the hiring decisions remain internal with all of the leadership accountabilities and responsibilities linked to those decisions intact.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As you plan for your career in HR, what are the benefits of working exclusively for a recruiting agency?
  2. What are the cost-benefit considerations for an organization looking to hire talent through a recruiting agency?
  3. How should organizational leadership positions be filled? Through an internal (HR driven) process or through an external (executive search firm) process? Explain your rationale.

Nurses Wanted

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As we have learned from our Recruitment and Selection studies, the Canadian demographic makeup is undergoing a significant transformation. We are facing significant increases in the number of people retiring or exiting the workforce as they continue to age. This aging and exiting workforce is leaving behind high numbers of job vacancies, along with a corresponding decrease in the number of skilled and available workers for those jobs. This pattern is evident and highlighted recently in the province of New Brunswick. Provincially, the health care sector will not be able to meet increasing patient needs due to the predicted lack of availability in skilled and talented nurses.

In order to address this issue, the New Brunswick government has put together a provincial ‘Nursing Resource Strategy’. This is a pro-active recruitment plan designed to meet current and future nursing demands. The strategy has four action items which include the targeted recruitment of internationally trained nurses; reducing barriers to work while waiting for provincial nursing registration; permanent employment offers and potential signing bonuses for new nurses committing to work for three years in the province’s rural areas.

Click here to read about New Brunswick’s nursing recruitment strategies.

As the focus of this strategy is to increase the numbers of internationally trained nurses, the plan includes targeted recruitment from countries with nursing education programs that provide ‘similar nursing professional standards, competencies, and credentials’. This approach links directly to the need for accurate job analysis so that there is a precise match between the alignment of job availability, professional requirements, and candidate competencies.

Further, this plan is based on an analysis of demographic information that forecasts both the supply and demand of skilled nurses over a nine-year plan. It may seem that a nine-year time frame is focused far into the future but, the current state of this skilled labour shortage is already at a critical stage and cannot wait for any future delays.

New Brunswick’s ‘Nursing Resource Strategy’ is a plan that has been developed for one particular province to meet its health care sector needs. The plan includes demographic analysis, staffing forecasts, job analysis, professional and competency requirements, action items and a time frame for delivery. In summary, the approach provides us with a template for what an effective recruitment strategy looks like. All that remains is effective implementation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify additional recruitment strategies that could increase the availability of skilled and qualified nurses in New Brunswick.
  2. What types of services or industries are impacted by the lack of skilled nurses provincially?
  3. What types of skill shortages are forecast for your province?
  4. What types of recruitment strategies would you put into place to address these skill shortages?
  5. As a new graduate, would you be willing to relocate to another province or another country if you were given a guarantee of employment in your field? Explain your rationale.

On To Onboarding

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The hiring decision has been made. References checked. Offer of employment made and accepted. Ready to move on to the next new hire process? Not so fast.

Just when you think the recruitment process is over, there is one more step to go – setting up the employee for a positive start to their new job. The last step of a successful recruitment campaign is also the first step for ensuring that all of the hard work put into hiring the right person transitions into a successful employment relationship for all involved. While we may think that the outcome of a recruitment process is the hiring of a new employee, the bigger outcome is the establishment of a long-term commitment by both the employer and the new employee to work together and achieve organizational goals.

This is where a successful on-boarding program comes into play. Think of the excitement that most people have on the first day of their new job. If there is nothing provided by the employer to meet that excitement, disappointment steps in. Very quickly, that new employee may decide to become an ex-employee, which means the recruitment process will have to be rolled out all over again.

A recent American based survey, indicates that up to 30% of new hires will leave their employer within the first 90 days of work, if they feel they have not been properly integrated into their new work environment. The reduction of that potential loss is explored in response to these survey results by providing simple but effective tips that connect ‘both the hearts and minds’ of new recruits.

Click here to read the need for on-boarding article.

As suggested in the article, the content of any first day on-boarding program sets the tone for the days that follow for new employees.

Let’s make sure those days are worth all of the effort it took to get them started.

Discussion Questions:

  1. At your most recent place of employment did you receive an orientation or an on-boarding session? How did the process work for you?
  2. After the first three months with your current employer, did you consider leaving? Why or why not?
  3. What advice would you give to an employer about the benefits of having an on-boarding program that is directly connected to a recruitment strategy?