This post is part of a three part series in which we ask recruiters, recruitment organisations, HR professionals, employers, employees and candidates to think about how recruitment can be better: Let’s Make Recruitment Great Again. Ben, our Director, isn’t convinced it ever was, to be fair.
Jobseekers turn to recruitment agencies to help them gain interviews and a job in far greater numbers than researching and finding potential employers directly. It is obviously easier for candidates this way and easier for employers too, but is it better? In this post we’ll explore the recruiter and candidate dynamic and what can be improved.
We gathered input and stories from various team members at Matter Solutions and noted that the relationship with recruitment agent isn’t always as good as the candidate hopes. I, Sarah, am the Copywriter here at Matter Solutions and I aim to give you our collective insights into recruitment agencies and what they could do different from a candidate’s perspective, especially in the digital marketing recruitment field.
As a candidate, I talked to several people in the office about their history with recruitment agents, and heard about how wonderful they were. They brought them in for meetings, they’re friendly, helpful, and best of all, actually found them interviews. I ended up pretty envious of them because despite sending my resume to various recruitment agencies during my final year at uni, I felt messed about and did not find any that I could actually recommend to another potential candidate.
It’s clear that while some recruitment agencies think they have digital marketing all figured out, there are clearly some areas in which they can improve.
We’ve even listed these in order of their impact on candidates ability to respect and connect with agents so even if you’re a super smooth high speed recruiter if you just read and action the first one you’ll be better than your peers.
#1 Don’t be spammy
People talk and word spreads, especially when it’s a small, close-knit team. It really is not a good idea to copy and paste the exact same message to people who are likely to sit next to each other, have lunch together and generally enjoy hanging out and talking about the latest spammy recruiter.
These lazy approaches come across as spammy and unprofessional. Try personalising the messages to get a better response. SEO has been through dark times where volumes of “outreach emails” were just a euphemism for spamming lots of bloggers and webmasters, it never really worked, and just makes said SEOs look like idiots. A pinpointed concise and honest email with some serious Get To The Point (GTTP) is far more appropriate. This video about SEO outreach from Rand Fishkin could help, seriously.
#2 Stop Baiting Candidates
As a candidate who at a certain point was pretty desperate, I do get it, recruitment agencies are a business, and like every other business, their aim is to make money. It is gut wrenching when recruitment agents turn out to be uncaring fools (or words to that effect). The worst tactic I’ve experienced is baiting. You will get some face time with a recruitment agency, with the promise that they have a suitable job for you, or want to talk about a job they posted that you have applied for. Then you either hear nothing about the job, or it was withdrawn, or filled internally. This psychological technique is pretty frustrating for a job seeker, who has essentially wasted their time coming in to meet the recruiter, time that could have been spent writing cover letters.
#3 Actually listen to the candidate
I’ve had a few particularly bad recruitment agents who don’t do one simple thing – listen to their candidate. What do they actually want to do with their career? It’s frustrating when you tell recruiters what jobs you do and don’t want to do, and all they do is spam you with jobs you said you don’t want to do. I’ve had to email agents to tell them to stop sending me certain jobs, because I wouldn’t even consider them, as I had told them when we originally met, and several times since. It’s easy to see the recruiter just wants to make money and doesn’t actually care about the candidate, what their career goals are or how they can help achieve them.
#4 Help the candidate advance their career
One recruitment agency (*cough – Robert Half Australia – cough*) flat out told me I would not be able to get a job creating content. Within two weeks of being told this, I went and got a job as a Copywriter at Matter Solutions.
What was frustrating about this agency was the fact the recruiter was so dismissive, when I had never faced this with any other agency. I walked out of the meeting with the recruiter feeling pretty angry and annoyed I had wasted my time going to meet with them. A tip to recruiters is to never dismiss what the employee wants to do. Maybe they can’t achieve it right away, but you can help them get jobs that will move them in the right direction to achieving that goal. It was clear this recruitment agency just wanted to make quick money and didn’t want to help me move forward with my career.
#5 Actually find the candidate interviews
Back in 2014, I was completing my postgraduate degree and while I was completing numerous volunteer positions, but I was struggling to find a paid job. I was required to go to a job agency to help find me a job. I was attending an agency who wasn’t all that helpful (and who has since been investigated by Four Corners for their questionable ethics and work practice). This company informed me it was too difficult to get an administration job, and I should apply for bar jobs. This is despite the fact I had never worked in hospitality, and every job posting stated you needed experience. So I sent my resume out to every bar in the Brisbane CBD and waited. While I didn’t hear anything from the bars, I did eventually get a call from a worker within the Queensland Government, who had seen my resume on the graduate portal and wanted to hire me for – you guessed it – an administration job. The recruiter emailed me once I got the job and was ecstatic – because I was still her candidate, she got paid, even though she had never found me a single interview.
I know the job market can sometimes be tough, but it is frustrating when you get more job applications from your old supervisors than recruitment agents.
#6 Connect with universities
Ideally, recruitment agencies should connect with universities, to offer training and connect students with jobs. Budding Talents Recruitments is Australia’s first agency devoted to students and graduates. They offer a professional internship program, graduate placement program and an Australian traineeship program. This is a great way to help graduates enter the workforce and advance their career. From an employee’s point of view, this is definitely something other recruitment agencies should consider doing.
#7 Don’t Tell Me What The Employer Wants to Hear
When we go into the interview we’re keen as to get the role. Even if you don’t mean to this means any advice you’ve given translates into action for me. You probably don’t mean it to become a script for me to say but it could become that. I don’t want to parrot things to them that you’ve said to me… so let me be the right candidate for me and them, the operative word being “me”.
#8 Keep in contact with the candidate
Nothing is more annoying than hearing about your dream job from a recruiter, applying for it and then – nothing. No communication from the recruiter about whether or not they actually put your resume forward, or what feedback you got from the employer. Candidates need to know whether they should continue to wait to hear from that position or continue to apply for other jobs. Interview feedback can also be extremely helpful and can be put to use in future interviews. As a recruiter, make sure you keep in contact with the candidates so they are not left in the lurch.
Make sure to keep an eye out for the next part of our three part series on recruitment.