Candidate Satisfaction: A Natural Disaster

Ian Alexander

What do earthquakes, tsunamis, revolutions, elections and job candidate satisfaction have in common? They are all made more tangible and visible by social media.

Recent earthquakes in Washington D.C. and hurricanes on the Eastern Seaboard proved once again the power of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to give instant and viral details to the entire globe about what happened and how people felt about it.

We’ve seen the same phenomena revolve around the Egyptian uprising last Spring and countless other triumphs and tragedies. Individuals are catapulted to fame or infamy thanks to our reactions to social media. Think of the long 15 minutes received by the golden-throated would-be DJ Ted Williams earlier this year, or the ruin of congressman Anthony Weiner.

So connect the dots and you can see how the way your candidates experience your recruiting efforts can spark this same boom or bust social phenomenon. For example:

Twitter: "@PomplaDouche: excuse me CIA, is your application website a test in itself? If not your team stinks. If so, good job"

Twitter: "@GoodGameWayne: I really want a job but the application process is a nightmare, after completing these 45 minute questionnaires..."

Twitter: "@Arias_Myles: Dear Walmart... your website is awful. Can't there just be a simple, easy-to-find "fill out application" button?"

Amplicate: "It amazes me beyond words how these Big 4 Accounting Firms -- firms that purport to want excellence -- use this bug-riddled application. I literally can't finish my E&Y application because it is so unreliable."

Amplicate: "I have applied with several different companies using (unnamed ATS) and not ONCE has it gone smoothly. The backspace key will often take you back a page while you are trying to type something, then you lose all your changes. You need to convert your resume to Word 2003 for F’s sake."

Amplicate: "Just applied for a job at Skype using (unnamed ATS). An almost comically awful experience every single step of the way. It amazes me that so many companies use this software - surely they can see that it captures practically no information about the candidate and also reflects badly on them? Skype should be embarrassed to see its branding around this system."

Recruiting has changed.

More people than ever are out of work. Social media gives voice to frustration. The balance of power has shifted commensurate with these two facts.

At the same time, recruiting organizations tell me they have no shortage of candidates. However, they have an increasing shortage of the right candidates. I.T. positions seem to be the hardest to fill. So many recruiting organizations have rightly focused on their employment brand as a way to attract the kind of candidates they are having such a hard time finding.

If you are relying on your brand and you are having a hard time filling specialized positions, I am sorry to say, you have to delight everyone. You have to be attentive and enthusiastic with the 95% of candidates who have no chance of working for you.

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. Because it validates and empowers this brand you rely on. Because it increases your chances of finding passive candidates and filling those hard-to-fill positions.

It’s vastly better to get positive leverage from social networking than it is to get negative leverage from it.

Customer service organizations have been working on this problem for years. They crave feedback. They crave it because they know the better their feedback, the more profitable their company is. They measure everything: response times, satisfaction, you name it. They experimented with offering cheaper alternatives and they saw how that negatively affected satisfaction, brand and profitability.

Recruiting organizations need to pay more attention to their external clients for these same reasons. Measure response, satisfaction and brand affinity in addition to time-to-fill and quality of hire and you will find that there is a direct correlation over time.

There are new online tools that can measure candidate satisfaction for you. They can promote conversations and interactions with candidates and build community around your career site and jobs, while at the same time informing you on how effective your recruiting efforts are.

There is a strong belief held by many recruiters that they are going to disappoint most candidates anyway, so what’s the point in measuring satisfaction? They are compensated on filling open positions, so why worry about whether current candidates may fit in future positions? I even hear an undercurrent of resentment over the vast numbers of laughably under-qualified applicants they have to deal with.

But as corporate recruiters struggle to make sense of these new dynamics in sourcing and hiring talent, there is one thing that they can count on: Their successes and failures will be made more tangible and visible by social media. Poorly treated candidates can leverage social media to call employers out, while satisfied candidates pay dividends across the entire recruiting spectrum, from sourcing to referral to brand to quality-of-hire.