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The Recruitment Black Hole - an article from June 2020

I wrote an article at the start of March which talked about the experiences of candidates actively looking for work in New Zealand. In particular the proliferation of recruitment advertisements that informed potential applicants they would only hear back if they were deemed worthy of shortlisting. A brief search unearthed numerous examples with hiring companies and recruitment consultancies equally guilty.

The article certainly seemed to resonate and opened up a number of conversations at the time. A comment posted today nudged the article back onto my notifications and I thought a follow-up might be in order. A quick search on SEEK highlighted in excess of 100 live advertisements informing the would-be applicant that if they didn't hear back they they could assume they were unsuccessful. Big companies, small businesses, large recruitment agencies, small recruiters. It might only be a small percentage of overall vacancies (less than 2%?) but that is still thousands of job seekers seeing their applications disappear into a black hole.

I understand we are living in unprecedented times. Redundancies in New Zealand are widespread and ongoing, and ever-increasing numbers of candidates are hitting the market with urgency. Job applications are at what must be an all-time high. I ran an advertisement on SEEK last week for a sales role and applicant numbers have gone past the 225 mark in just 9 days. Businesses are under huge pressure and the recruitment sector is no different.

That said, and at the risk of banging my head against an impenetrable wall, why is it so difficult to treat people with a basic level of dignity and let them know where they stand? Everyday we are encouraged to 'be kind' and, irrespective of political leaning, it's not a bad thing to aim for. And yet, when people are at desperation point and scrabbling to get back in the workforce, kindness is the last thing many candidates are experiencing. In this day and age, managing candidate applications is not difficult. There are numerous recruitment systems that automate so much of what used to be laborious processes. Being blunt, I've had to reject 220 candidates in the last week. It's not the most pleasant thing I've had to do recently, but it is nothing if not quick. And at least those individuals know what is happening to their application.

If you are involved in recruitment processes at any level, please take a long hard look at how you manage the candidate experience. Think how you would like to be treated if you should find yourself on the other side of the equation. Whether it be motivated by customer service, kindness or just basic commercial common sense (people have long memories), challenge yourselves and your organisation to treat people better.

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