Bad recruitment – the inspiration for Career Gift

I am living, breathing proof that bad recruitment experiences change buying habits.

Back in the late 1990’s I applied for a job with a very well known brand. One I respected. In fact I spent a lot of money with them.

I then saw a job advertised that sounded really exciting. It made them an even more attractive employer in my eyes. And I was delighted when I got invited to a telephone interview and then a full day assessment centre.

That assessment centre literally changed my life. It was the most embarrassing and painful experience I think I have ever endured. To me the day had more to do with applying for a job as an entertainer at a holiday camp than a job in HR. For me, it had little face validity and you could sense the assessors having huge fun as the candidates were put through what appeared to be ever more bizarre and humiliating exercises.

As I left I swore I would never, ever spend a penny with them again.  I regularly went out of my way to avoid giving them money. I’d make my purchases anywhere, at any price, rather than give them a bean.

Over the next decade my changed behaviour must have cost them thousands of pounds. Even now, pushing 20 years on, I won’t spend with them out of choice.

In a competitive world, winning customers is hard. Losing them is easy. A customer who has a bad recruitment experience will, like me, go elsewhere. Which is why a bad candidate experience is a business issue – not just one for HR. Many businesses are waking up to this – for example I recently saw figures from Pepsico that should make every HR Director sit up and take notice.

My bad experience triggered a chain of thought about the whole candidate experience. In some ways I was lucky. My application at least got me to first interview and beyond. How about all those people who don’t make it that far?

Being made redundant in 2008 gave me a short sharp shock. I was only unemployed for a matter of days but even in that short time I started to realise that recruitment can be a frustrating process for candidates. Agencies didn’t return my calls. On-line applications disappeared into black holes and I got a number of two line “Dear John” regret letters which, in some cases were in response to applications I’d spent hours crafting. I recently saw a piece of research that suggested over 70% of on-line applicants never even get an acknowledgement. So clearly there’s a huge potential for employers to “do better”.

When I joined Chiumento I had lots of early conversations with delegates about their job search experiences. Many of which were not unlike my own. In every case they were looking for someone to give them a helping hand.

Whether you are looking for your first job, a career move or just been out of the market a while, you often need some up-to-date tips and guidance. Sadly most people can’t access it.

From that realisation our thinking went something like this. The one thing every candidate has in common is that they are looking for a new opportunity. As a recruiter you can’t directly help the vast majority of them by offering them a job. However what if you could offer them some great advice? Wouldn’t that help them on their way to career success? What better way to say “thank you” for applying? And at the same time send a message: We care.

From that basic concept we developed CareerGift. Even rejection can be a positive experience.

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