At some point during your recruitment drive you’ll likely use recruiters. The problem is that some recruiters are creating a bad first impression of your company. Your recruiters are often the first point of contact a potential hire has with your company. Here are some ideas on how to help your recruiters create a great first impression.
I like to use recruiters to help me to find the right people. They are invaluable and a good one is worth their weight in gold.
Some recruiters though don’t think twice about focusing on short term wins at the expense of a long term relationship.
This leads to many problems but the one I’ll focus on in this post is that it often creates a poor first impression about your company in the mind of a candidate.
The reality is that your job advert and the initial call to, or from, the recruiter is often the first time someone has a connection with your company. You need to make sure it’s a positive experience and not one soured with lies, miscommunication and frustration.
I have dealt with recruiters from both sides of the recruitment process and I can tell you that first impressions really do matter.
One recruiter I was working with lied to me and sent me to an interview for a developer role. The job spec and the detailed discussions all suggested this was a tester role. He changed my CV without telling me nor the hiring manager and both sides were left utterly disappointed. I have never used that recruiter again.
Many times I’ve had recruiters who don’t even know what testing is. Many others who have lied about the salary. And of course, a great deal more who never get back to you. If you want a laugh check out The Problems With Testing (PDF Direct Download) – there is a chapter in there about recruitment.
In my experience for every great recruiter out there, there are several unprofessional ones. And these people create bad experiences for your potential employees.
It’s your job as a hiring manager to make sure, where possible, that the first contact a candidate has with your recruitment agent is a positive one.
Your recruiter is an advert for your company and for you. It can be hard to recover a candidate from a poor initial experience.
As you cannot control people it will be impossible for you to guarantee your recruiter creates a positive first experience, but what follows are some ideas to help improve the chance of a positive first experience.
Pick your recruiter with care
If you have a choice then you need to choose your recruiter with care. Choose one who also cares about first impressions. I’ve written about working with recruiters before and the advice remains the same – find someone you trust. I’d suggest you read that post as it outlines more about this in further detail.
Find out how they recruit and work with them to fine tune this process
The search and contact process that your recruiter has in place is an important factor in creating a good first impression. Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter what their process is.
If they want to work with you and build a relationship then transparency (where practical) is essential. The better you know their process the better placed you will be to help them to improve it when working with you.
It’s important that you feel comfortable with the recruitment process they have in place. If you have any doubts ask for clarity. If they refuse to change the way they work, or are hesitant to even share their process then consider walking away if it’s not right for you. I’m not suggesting you get involved with any of their internal business processes – but if they approach candidates and manage them through their system in a way that is not congruent with your values – then have that discussion with them.
There are lots of recruiters out there and if you’re not comfortable with any one of them then consider switching.
Listen to their feedback about your process
Just as the recruiters process won’t be perfect, neither will yours. So listen to their feedback and action it where practical. Don’t be defensive and assume you have it nailed – you probably don’t.
The process of contacting a candidate and that candidate making their way through to an offer/rejection should be as seamless as possible. So it’s important that both parties work on improving together.
Invite them to see your company and understand your team culture
A recruiter who knows you, your company process and your company culture will be much better placed to create a good impression.
Be wary of recruiters who don’t want to find out more. Why would they not want to?
Get feedback from candidates about your recruiter
- Ask every single person who comes through from your recruiter for feedback.
- How smooth was the process?
- How accurate was the information?
- What was the first impression like?
- Would you feel happy applying for another job through this recruiter again?
Give feedback to your recruiter and drop them if they don’t shape up
Take the above candidate feedback and use it to improve the process. Provide constructive feedback for your recruiters so that they can fine tune their process.
A good recruiter will welcome feedback and an opportunity to improve.
If the recruiter dismisses the feedback and is defensive then consider how effective your on-going relationship with them can be.
Be cautious though about taking all feedback as an immediate problem. Some candidates are conditioned to look for problems and struggle to spot positives. It is easy to point out problems, it’s much harder to acknowledge and give praise. But you’ll know whether you’re starting to see a pattern in the feedback.
Give your recruiters a media pack
Providing your recruiters with a media pack makes it easier for them to communicate a consistent message. A media pack should contain links, data, information and contact details. Some recruiters won’t need this but in the early days it can be helpful in setting expectations.
It may also be worth providing the recruiter with a series of questions to ask the candidate. These questions (technical, culture, career goals etc) can help to create consistency in the process.
The above are some ideas on how to help your recruitment team create a great first impression. I would also like to outline something you should never do.
Don’t do this
Never pretend to be a candidate and apply for one of your own jobs to assess your recruiter. I’ve known lots of people try this and it has one massive downside. It undermines the trust you should have in your recruiter. Trust is important. Trust that they will do their job and that you will do yours. If you don’t trust them why are you working with them to find great talent?
It’s your job as a hiring manager to put in place processes and activities that ensure you’re not turning people away at the first hurdle. Working with your recruiter to create a great first impression is a good starting point.
How do you try to ensure a positive first impression when working with recruiters?
Have you had a bad experience with a recruiter – please leave your thoughts in the comments.