It’s no secret that providing a positive candidate experience is a key component of many recruitment strategies. But with 44%1 of job seekers citing that they had a great deal of frustration while waiting to hear back from a potential employer during their job search journey, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.
To help recruiters looking to rebuild their existing recruitment process, we spoke to Edan Haddock, Talent Manager at flybuys, on how he set aside everything he knew about recruitment to create a whole new process from scratch.
How did you know it was time to revamp the recruitment process at flybuys?
It wasn’t necessarily a case of having to revamp, as flybuys used to be a division within Coles, and when Coles and Wesfarmers demerged, flybuys became a joint venture. So we were in a situation where we needed to step away from Coles, who looked after our recruitment, and establish our own recruitment process from scratch. We literally started with nothing. We didn’t have any policies, processes or technology in place. So we were 100% focused on building a new recruitment strategy that was suitable for our unique talent sector.
How did you put aside everything you’ve learnt in the recruitment space in the last 10 years to start fresh?
It was a difficult mindset to change. My natural inclination was to grab the processes that Coles had been using for many years, or grab the processes from my previous role at AIA, and carbon copy them. But when I consulted with flybuys and got a better understanding of their talent needs, I realised that what the business was looking for was really unique. And a lot of the historic recruitment processes I had been running over the last 10 years had to be approached differently, or in some cases weren’t needed anymore. Mapping out what our needs were and establishing what our ideal process would look like helped me put aside my previous learnings and start fresh.
Are there any warning signs recruiters should look out for that indicate their current process might be broken?
I’ve asked this question to many recruiters, and I always get the same answer: most recruitment teams haven’t actually applied for one of their roles themselves. We often get busy in our roles and get into a transactional mode quite frequently due to volume, that we don’t take a step back to look at the process from a candidate’s lens. I think it’s really important for talent acquisition teams to run customer experience workshops where they’re applying for their roles to better understand what that process feels like from a candidate’s perspective.
The other key thing you can do is to get your key stakeholders, and the people you rely on, to also go through that process and see where there are broken parts.
What if recruiters aren’t experiencing any of these signs?
Since we’re so used to recruitment processes running a certain way, we need to take a step back and compare applying for a job to purchases or transactions that we make in our everyday lives, like booking accommodation or using a rideshare app. Because, I would challenge anyone who says that the recruitment process is as simple, user friendly and as focused on the consumer as other processes that we go through on a daily basis.
Applying for a role is extremely complex and difficult. The process is lengthy, there’s lots of duplication, and a lot of the systems people use have multiple data points for candidates. If you compare that to calling a car on a rideshare app, where it’s very simple and straightforward, you’ll see the limitations that many recruitment processes have. I don’t believe anyone would be able to say that everything in their recruitment process is perfect.
Creating a new recruitment process from scratch sounds quite overwhelming. Any tips on where recruiters can start?
As recruiters, I think our natural inclination after going through our initial analysis and acknowledging that things need to be fixed, is to work around our technology and processes in order to make changes. This basically means that we will limit ourselves in what we’re able to do. The best thing to do is to forget what your current technology and process is, and map out an ideal process first.
This will help you see the moments that need to be addressed and you will be able to prioritise them when revamping your recruitment process. Instead of just tweaking things based on what you think needs adjusting, create an ideal process that really excites you and your team.
Is there one thing you previously thought was crucial in the recruitment process, but have scrapped from your new way of working?
I wouldn’t say I’ve fully scrapped it, but a big adjustment for me has been not having as many phone conversations with candidates. Over the last 10 years, I had fallen into the habit of picking up the phone and leaving a message for every update or any bit of information I needed to work with the candidate on. They would call me back, and we’d end up playing phone tennis all day long.
But something that I’ve recently adjusted to is communicating with candidates via text or email, which at flybuys we do through our Talent platform (Livehire) It was a little difficult to adjust to this as I had always been trained that human connections are formed by having conversations at every stage of the process. But, i’s actually ok to communicate with candidates via email or text as it’s not always necessary to speak over the phone about every little thing.
We need to move to an AI-driven industry, especially if we look at how other service providers communicate with us. Our banks or telco companies aren’t calling us about everything, they send us updates via text or email instead. It’s important to shift that mindset in the recruitment process as well.
Aside from moving to having conversations with candidates via text or email, are there any other new ways you are using technology in your new recruitment process that you weren’t previously?
Previously, I had been using technology like Successfactors and Workday, one-size fits all products. But what has been really exciting in terms of technology and how we use it in our recruitment process is that we’ve been able to select Cloud-based solutions and link them together.
Rather than looking at one piece of technology that will do the entire process, we’ve been able to identify Cloud-based products that are ideal for us and we’ve been able to link them through open ATIs. By doing this, we’ve been able to create the ideal journey for our candidates and our employees as they are onboarded.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew before you started building your new recruitment process?
I wish I knew it was so easy to link all of those Cloud-based products together. I wasn’t aware of that when we first started, so it was like striking gold for me. If I would have known that early on, I would have been a little less stressed in the early days of planning.
If you’re looking at redefining your processes, I would recommend looking at the technology that is out there and making sure that you learn more about them. When I first started building our new recruitment process, I would’ve loved to have known more, and I’m still discovering some really cool things that I’d like to explore. I think it’s important to make sure you’re out there getting real hands-on experience with the technology available in the recruitment space.
What’s the biggest challenge facing recruiters as we move into a more AI-centric future of work?
The challenge for recruiters is shifting their mindset. As I mentioned before, most of us think that in order to form a human connection with candidates, we need to have conversations face-to-face or over the phone. But that’s not actually the case.
People are scared of AI because they feel it’s robotic. I don’t feel that at all. Personally, I would rather have some form of contact with candidates than have none at all. There are technologies out there that we’re looking at that are really exciting, where anyone who applies for a role will have the opportunity to speak to AI. I would prefer that than applicants not being able to speak to anyone at all. It’s about shifting that mindset and looking at how your process can connect with candidates rather than just reject them.
Unfortunately, most of our systems were historically designed around filtering through large volumes of applications and sending rejection messages out and then only communicating with applicants who have made it to the next round. We need to shift that mindset as well and understand that candidates who have applied for a role are also your customers, and it’s important to form some kind of connection with them instead of letting them just flow through and receive a standard rejection message.
We need to shift from an applicant rejection system to a more applicant connection system.
Do you have any other tips or advice you can share with recruiters looking to build a new process from scratch?
My biggest piece of advice for people in talent acquisition is to try things and not be scared of failure. There’s a lot of change in the air, but people are resistant and fear it because we have done recruitment the same way for the past 30 years. To be bold, take a chance, and try something different is difficult. But ultimately, nothing can go wrong. Give it a go, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work—move on.
We need to start shifting the way we operate, and the only way we can do that is by taking risks. My advice to any recruitment team is to take risks and learn from them and you’ll see a massive difference in your candidate engagement.
1Methodology: This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed, among 500 Australian job seekers in June-July 2016.