An Aussie Candidate Experience

This blog follows on from my previous blog, and also comes after @BillBoorman epic 5 Part Blog – The UK Candidate Experience.

The post will be about my own experience, which I can only assume is the status quo for all applicants, and a rot that needs to be dealt with immediately. It’s such an issue that even talk back radio (ABC Radio) did a session on application feedback and the lack thereof. I’ll get to this later in the blog. The West Australian Newspaper also ran a number of articles in relation to the difficulty of finding a job in the construction and resources sector with many people talking about poor responses and feedback from employers.

Application 1 – Oil & Gas Operator – Position – Team Leader. 

Saw the position advertised on SEEK, and applied. Received automated response. About 5 weeks later, I was contacted by this company in relation to another role. No feedback provided on my initial application. I pursued this other position, to find that the original role was filled internally. In relation to the new role, the interview experience, post interview feedback and timeliness was positive. I wasn’t successful.

My Thoughts: My first experience was a poor one, and I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of response to my original application. Knowing the local market pretty well I had expected at least a courtesy call to acknowledge receipt of my application and provide a brief overview role, current status etc. In other words, keep me warm, put me in a talent pool etc. Had I not been contacted by the new Recruitment Manager, i’m pretty confident the status of my application will be lost in the ATS black hole. I expected more. 

Application 2 – Iron Ore Producer – Recruitment Superintendent.

I was made aware of this opportunity and applied via the corporate career site. You could apply with your LinkedIn or Facebook profile. HOWEVER, you were still required to upload a resume. Contact was swift, and the recruiter kept me informed each step of the way. He seemed quite confident about my suitability. Days later, the position changed to Recruitment Manager and about a week later back to Superintendent. After applying, I received an email asking me to join their talent community! WOW, congratulations on taking the lead with this initiative. I wonder what tactics are going to be applied to the various talent communities? In case you are wondering, I didn’t join.

After being told that the HR Manager decided they weren’t looking for a strategic recruitment manager (This new Iron Ore producer is about to employ about 6000+ and strategy was not seen as a key component of the role) but a operational manager ( I was a little dumbfounded) everything went quiet. I never got a call from the recruiter, and didn’t receive a reject letter.

My Thoughts: First experience was extremely positive. The recruiter managed my expectations initially but then went MIA after the role reverted back to Superintendent. Perhaps he was embarrassed, who knows.

Changing the position once after advertising is confusing to the market, but changing it twice is just madness. It demonstrates the employer has no idea what they are looking for, and could therefor put off prospective talent if approached or applying. What does this say about your brand, worse still, what does this say about your HR team? 

Application 3. Construction Contractor. National Recruitment Manager

I was contacted about this role prior to it being advertised internally or externally thanks to a contact of mine working for this employer. Due to this relationship, my experience was pretty positive with my expectations managed very well.

Unfortunately I was not successful.

Application 4. Construction Contractor. Recruitment Manager (Contract)

This was a strange one. Numerous people had referred my details to this employer and feedback was that there was interest and I was engaged. I however had never been contacted. Eventually contact was made and a meeting took place. Long story cut short, the position was pulled.

I was dealing direct with the Recruitment Manager.  Whilst I did receive feedback, I had to make numerous calls and emails before any feedback was provided, primarily due to the lack of managing expectations.

My Thoughts: Set clear and realistic expectations in relation to updates. This will allow both parties to plan, free up time, and focus on tasks at hand. Stops all the chasing around.

Application 5. EPC. Recruitment Manager

This was the equal best experience I had of all applications. Applying via LinkedIn, my contact was Qld based. 1 phone screen, 2 interviews ending with a job offer which I declined, only to be called back days later in relation to a potential new opportunity.

My Thoughts. Why was this the equal best experience? Well the application itself was nothing special. The recruiter handling this role however was on the ball. He managed expectations, contacting me when he said he would, and provided good guidance in relation to status. 

Application 6. Construction Contractor. Lead Recruiter

This opportunity came about through a good friend and former colleague. This experience was fantastic, on par with what you would expect from an employer with its act together. Talk about swift. Within 6 working days I had interviewed 4 times. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful as I was considered too experienced for the role.

My Thoughts: First time I ever had this one pulled on me. It got me thinking though. Both the Recruitment Manager, HRM, Global Recruitment Manager were all on-board with my appointment however the Regional Manager was not sold and it was his decision that put an end to the process. My lesson learnt here, you need to be closing before closing. 

In Summary:

The initial application process has A LOT of room for improvement:

  • Why can’t I upload a video application for example?
  • If I apply with my LinkedIn profile, why do I need to upload my resume during the initial stage?
  • If I know someone in your organisation, why can’t I nominate or list them as part of my application so you the employer can do some internal background checking? We know it goes on, even though its against privacy legislation,
  • Why am I still having to replicate my resume in the career history section of your application process?

Candidate Attraction:

  • How about interviewing the hiring manager regarding the role and putting a short video up for applicants to review?
  • Or, meet the team video, here’s your desk picture or video.. get them engaged. Enriching content, get some!
  • Reading your corporate site is not immersing your prospective talent with your brand. Its like reading yesterdays paper.

Managing Expectations:

  • Set realistic time frames in relation to the process
  • Call when you say you are going to call
  • Don’t bull shit the applicant. Be honest

Whats been disappointing is that my applications were amongst my peer group, the people responsible for the sad state of candidate experience people are complaining about. No, not all of them, but certainly a good portion. And yes, I too can be held to account.

If every recruitment manager began to focus a little more on the candidate experience and perhaps less on invaluable internal metrics, perhaps your ability to attract the best talent in the market becomes all that easier. Better yet, it costs you NOTHING! No budget issues here.

I’ll definitely be taking the lead on this one and practicing what I preach.

ABC Radio in Perth 720AM ran a feature several weeks back which I was listening to on the way back from one of my interviews. They were discussing why people were not hearing back from employers when they submitted their applications ( a couple of callers were willing to even pay a lump sum to the person who successfully secured them work). A Career Consultant spoke on behalf of industry, and I was annoyed by her remarks. Whilst they were true to a degree, it does not excuse the sad state of customer service offered to applicants. This will be the topic of my next blog in the coming weeks.