How can feedback in recruitment improve your hunt for talent?
Thank you for your interest in the ( position ) at ( company) in (country). Unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with your application, but we appreciate your time and interest in (company).
Many of you were looking for a new job, and many got rejected. It is a situation everyone will go through many times. Do you think the form of rejection is anyhow important?
Imagine. You apply for a new job in a now popular Agile landscape. The company does not matter, and the role may vary — Agile Coach, Scrum Master, Transformation Manager, Product Owner, Release Train Engineer, Agile Project Manager, or whatever else. Agile is a way of work built around values. One of these values,
“Individuals and Interaction over Processes and Tools”,
says it all. The technique that supports this Agile value is providing feedback. It can be direct feedback 1:1. It can be via the retrospective event. Options are many. Individuals appreciate it. Teams are obsessed with it. Organizations are demanding it. And suddenly, you get the message I mentioned above.
After you spent time preparing your application and took more time going through job ads and their requirements, you start to think. What kind of message has the organization just sent to me? Perhaps you have years of experience “under your belt” or an idea of how you could act in the role. And finally, you just have been informed that there is no interest in even meeting you and discussing what you can offer. Can you learn something from it? Can you understand what you did wrong? What exactly?
The story does not end here. Do you remember your feelings right after you read that message? And what did you feel when you found the company published the same ad again just minutes after they rejected you? Now you have an identical copy-paste response from several companies, and you are starting to realize something is wrong.
There is another perspective on how to look at this. What does this say about the company? Is this the feedback? What can you do differently or better next time? What are the expectations of the organization then?
Companies behave like this when they are over-processed. Agile is about people, and companies here are purely about the process. Agile is about attitude, and here it shows that people are a mere resource. No one is particularly interested in anyone. You are just a number. Try to answer the following question for yourself. How likely would you purchase a product or service from a company that treated you unfairly in hiring?
In which companies are hiring for resources and the process is above the people? ACT Translations, Aras Corporation, AutoUncle, Capitole Consulting, Creative Dock, Critical Software, Enablers, E.ON, E-solutions, Findmore Consulting, Houston Inc, INTECA, Kairos Digital Solutions, Magnolia Software & Services, Magyar Bankholding, Monster Technologies, Netcentric, Sportradar, Taskmill Oy, TSD Consulting, UniCredit Services, Vincente Sanz to name a few.
Interestingly, one group of companies on the list is dedicated to offering consulting services in Agile implementation and adoption. They “bodyshop” Scrum Masters or Agile Coaches. They pretend they are in an Agile landscape but do not live it at home. Another group consults on customer and user experience. But how are they mapping the stakeholders and their needs? The third group is “consumers” of agile services. You can see them at many conferences speaking about their success with Agile transformation. And the last one is headhunting and bodyshop agencies, where people are a commodity to trade.
What to do with recruiting to make it a better experience?
My advice to the Job seeker.
Avoid inserting your CV into any ATS system (automatic tracking system). There is little guarantee that your application will get fair treatment. Moreover, your one-time rejection will mean being rejected forever on that site. Instead, find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter, write an email to her and demand a response. It will show you the attitude of the organization. Are they indeed welcoming candidates in their search for talent? Do they force you to follow the process? Or do they lazily ignore you? Get this experience.
My advice to recruiters and the HR department.
Revise your hiring process or invite an expert who will do it on your behalf. Are all stakeholders correctly identified and their expectations understood? Are all stakeholders in the process treated fairly? Is there any bottleneck in the process that results in overload and leads to taking shortcuts? Create a customer journey map, and validate the process with a real customer. And do not forget that candidates are stakeholders, too. Important ones. Remember, today rejected candidate can be your future business partner or customer.
Focus on what is most important. You are looking for top talent. The goal is not to screen as many CVs as possible in the false hope that you will discover a needle. Machine screening of the CVs for speed is not a solution here. Instead, understand your candidates and their motivation to uncover their hidden talent. You have to create your best people. You can do it by alignment of the work to their preferences, mentoring, training, and coaching. If you are after top performance, there is no such thing as a shortcut. Hiring is about future needs, not about what is now! And feedback is an essential differentiator. It helps candidates better understand what is needed. It helps recruiters focus on candidate strengths and opportunities for collaboration. It creates a positive aura for a company brand.
What is your experience with rejection? Have you received useful and practical feedback? Do you have a different observation? Share with us your experience!
In my course Agile Recruiter, I discuss various aspects of recruitment for agile and knowledge-intensive organizations, especially how to design suitable practice and align it with organization objectives, structure, strategy, and culture.
About the author: Michal Vallo dedicates to building human & learning organizations as a precondition for Agile adoption. He shares his experience with HR departments and managers who are in desperate need of radical innovation. He has experience from both sides, which led him to create better recruitment practices and the course Agile Recruiter. Michal helps managers to understand agile techniques, benefit from their adoption and consequently radically improve organizational performance. Feel free to contact him if you need help with your HR department or agilization of your organization.