Dear recruiter, I’m talking to you……

Recruiters and employers often see candidates as privileged and themselves as the giver of this privilege. Candidates are viewed as lucky to be selected, lucky to be interviewed and exceptionally lucky if they eventually get the job.

When you look at the statistics, it’s clear this is the case. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment has risen 300% in just two years, from 6.4% in 2015 to 18.8 % in the last quarter of 2017. This means that 20% of Nigerians are actively seeking employment.

With so many people vying for the same positions it’s easy to see why employers often feel spoilt for choice. Feeling spoilt for choice is not a bad thing of itself – unless it is reflected in recruitment practices and the way candidates are treated during the recruitment process.

Unfortunately, shoddy recruitment practices and habits have become the norm and the sadness of this new reality becomes magnified when compared with the values these companies, with shoddy recruitment practices, claim to espouse.

But what are these practices that alienate rather than ingratiate? It starts from the moment a prospective employee looks at a job ad. They’re interested, however, there’s a clause at the end “ensure you use code Admin assistant 005 in the title of the e-mail, anyone who does not do this will not be considered”.

The sentiment behind this clause is understandable; applications without titles make managing multiple recruitment campaigns complicated. That said, caveats like this scream privilege; you are privileged to apply and if you don’t “do as we say” we will withdraw that privilege.

This is not to say recruiters can’t communicate requirements, however they should be communicated in a way that shows respect for the time given by the candidate to view the ad.

“This email address will manage multiple applications, to enable us categorise and address your application quickly, please indicate the application code in the title of your email.”

With a bit of wordsmithing, you have passed your requirement, respected your candidate and transferred the accountability for successfully submitting the application.

My next point is quite simple. It is about acknowledgement and follow up. If someone takes the time to put together a CV or application, this effort should be acknowledged, even if this is an automated response so that candidates know their submission was indeed successful. Unfortunately, this rarely happens and even more unfortunate is the fact that many applications remain unread and unacknowledged, the 21st century version of tossed in the bin.

As we get further in the recruitment process there are many more touch points with candidates where employers often show a disregard for candidates’ time and candidates themselves: Some examples include:

● Inviting a candidate for an interview and being more than 5 minutes late. A friend of mine had an interview at an international consulting firm where the interviewers were over an hour late and offered no apologies.
● Speaking to the interviewee rudely: I had a personal experience in 2008 where a recruiter for one of the top 3 banks in Nigeria told me in an interview that my answer to a question “was crap.” I was later told they were testing my resilience and was then offered the job. I didn’t take the role; I was unwilling to work in an environment where it was ok to speak to people like that for any reason.
● Not giving feedback after a face to face interview. It is the minimum expected after a candidate has made additional time commitments to attend interviews.
● Putting candidates’ applications on hold Indefinitely without sufficient explanation and consent from the candidate. Some of the larger companies are guilty of this and sometimes the intent is good; we don’t want to let you go but we’re not ready yet. This is unacceptable. Recruit only when you are sure you have a vacancy to fill and if you must put the process on hold, get the candidate’s consent letting them know the time frame (which you must stick to).

Not only is the “we’re doing you a favour” approach to recruitment bad for the candidate experience, it is bad for the organisations’ brand and future as an employer of choice. Most applicants will not consider working at a place where they have previously had a negative recruitment experience, and those with a negative recruitment experience are also less likely to purchase from the company with whom they’ve had a negative experience. So, not only are you loosing potentially good employees, you are losing customers as well. Also, as most people share their negative experiences with friends and on social media, your brand could suffer avoidable damage as a result.

Your recruitment process is indicative of the value you place on employees and a magnifying glass into your values as a company. A positive approach to recruitment should be like your mission, vision and values: reverberating, strong and uninfluenced by external factors like unemployment rates.



Aghatise (MCIPD) is a HR Professional with over a decade of experience working for Multinationals across Africa and Europe. She is also an alumni of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Network and a mentor of young professionals.

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