Social responsibility is probably not the first thing we think of when talking about recruiters, but could they do more to help job seekers?
Finding, attracting and selecting the people required that are going to be the best fit for any given position is not easy. Recruiters are also measured and judged on outputs that are not always easy to control or measure. But they come into contact with job seekers every day. People who are needing, wanting and devoting time and emotional energy to getting a job. Most of these won’t be successful, so what more can recruiters do?
The dark art of recruiting
There are many job applicants who spend hours, days and months applying for jobs. Devoting significant amounts of time and emotional energy to get the job they want. The job hunting and application process can be one of the most draining and difficult activities most of us encounter. As a job hunter you’re entering a world where selection process, behaviours and decision making are something of a dark art.
There are also people who could be perfect for a role, but do not know the best way to position themselves when they apply for a job. First time job hunters or those who have been in the same job for a number of years may struggle with the process. Recruiters can help by streamlining their own processes, but for the vast majority of positions the traditional rules of providing a CV/resume, application forms etc. still apply.
Many larger organisations will have thousands if not tens of thousands of job applicants a year. Most of these will not get the job. Most of these won’t get any feedback. Many won’t learn anything from the process on how they could improve to get the job they want.
A few years back I produced a short film to launch a European Union backed initiative called called QWEST. QWEST was an initiative to help people to get back into employment in one of the most economically deprived areas in Wales. I was moved by the stories of the people I interviewed and in particular a lady called Sandra, who had been out of work for more than two years. She was emotional and was holding back tears as she described the cycle she found herself in:
“When you’re actually in work you look forward to when you can have the time off work and have a holiday. But, when you find yourself out of work and it’s forced upon you, it’s a horrible feeling.”
One of the other volunteers in the film had also sent many job applications and heard nothing. He was making the same mistakes over and over again because he didn’t have the guidance to put them right. He was demoralised and didn’t know what he was doing wrong. The support they received, however, literally changed their lives.
That’s the thing with recruitment. It can change people’s lives.
Can we make it better for everyone?
There are many people who apply for positions where they may or may not be suitable. But there is a real person behind every job application. There will be those who are firing off several applications at a time without any real thought. They need guidance as much as those who devote a lot of time and energy in their application, but perhaps haven’t yet nailed down the best way of presenting themselves and their experience.
Applying for a job can be one of the most important decisions we make and one of the most stressful situations to go through. It’s difficult to appreciate at times when looking at the numbers streaming through the ATS that there is an individual behind every one of those applications. Try and visualise this. What is happening in their life at that particular time to motivate them to apply for a job with your organisation? There is also the hope and expectation that goes with that which every candidate will experience.
For some people, their job hunt will be driven by necessity. For others, it maybe a step up the ladder or to seek pastures new. Either way, if we could help them become better candidates – even if they are not successful with their application at that particular time – would that not be better for everyone?
There are many groups of job hunters including young people, returners to work, veterans and many others who will all have different experiences and knowledge when it comes to the job hunting process and all who may require different types of advice. For example, whilst there is a lack of career guidance generally in schools and colleges, often it is some of the basic job hunting skills that are lacking. We make an assumption that people should know what to do, but why should they unless they have been shown or given guidance on what they should do?
Whilst we need to be conscious of creating processes that reflect our audience in more imaginative ways, the reality is that job hunting still is rooted in traditional practices. The better equipped a job hunter can be to battle these the more likely they are to be successful in their job search. When we talk about social responsibility, we are talking about how we can enhance society through the actions we take. Those in positions of power and responsibility have an important role to play and securing employment is one of the biggest social challenges there is.
If, as employers and recruiters, we were driven to give people the right advice and guidance to help them secure the job they want, wouldn’t that be a good thing to do? In fact, isn’t it the socially responsible thing to do?