Low Cost Recruitment...Is It Ineffective?

Low Cost Recruitment...Is It Ineffective?

Low-Cost Recruitment...is it ineffective? Let me count the ways. Humans are becoming more and more reliant on technology and convenience with a focus on getting the best possible outcome for less. Recruitment for all intensive purposes is being driven towards a checkbox style methodology with every step having less and less human involvement with everyone convinced that this provides a better outcome. I guess you are thinking at the moment that I'm against using technology in recruitment but I'm actually not. Here is what makes many of the currently used methods of online recruitment ineffective...averaging. Statistically we prefer to look at humans based on averages as this allows us to simplify technological approaches but when it comes to real humans everyone is unique, we often want people who are not the average and give businesses an edge therefore checkboxes just cannot provide the level of detail you require without making applications for jobs longer and more time consuming for the applicant. I hear you say, so what...

I'm all in favour of improving the recruitment process but after seeing what is out there for applications I can't help but feel that both the employer and the applicant are wasting their time. I have been helping a number of people fill out applications with a vast number of them making me feel like either no care was taken in developing them or that the application was written by 999 monkeys...not quite Shakespeare...at all. The number one waste of time I find is the written selection criteria approach, poorly worded, repetitive and generic selection criteria that is different for similar jobs with the same employer. The written selection criteria is a great idea gone wrong...a selection criteria is an appropriate way to determine someones grasp of english, grammar, spelling and the ability to use a word processing application but I rarely see it used to actually determine someones viability. Where it goes wrong is that the employer never provides adequate guidance on what they expect, a template to fill out, unique questions, even appropriate questions to actually determine someones skill and at the end of it, did the applicant actually fill it out? Personality questions don't belong in a selection criteria, as lets be honest, who is going to say that they aren't hardworking or capable of prioritising workloads?

My next favourite type of application that I consider ineffective is where you need to reproduce the contents of your resume linked to your username which often makes the applicant dread ever applying for a job with you again. What makes it worse is often companies change their online application provider and the applicant has to rebuild it again. It is often thought that allowing people to dump their LinkedIn profile remedies this but in the end this doesn't help somene who wants to keep their work history private which is their right. This is the database approach and attempts to make the applicant searchable but inherently this excludes any applicant that doesn't fit 100% into some criteria that is usually quite rigid. This often leads to people needing to have a specific qualification and / or experience level and is probably one of the closest things to a hidden checkbox arrangement you can get. This is a great common format for employers to filter out some really appropriate candidates and it relies on a high density population applying for a role so essentially useless for anywhere outside a major city or for anything but top tier companies. The lack of transparency about what an employer is looking for makes it impossible for candidates to highlight information an employer might be looking for that isn't explicitly communicated in the advert. Simply poor data in...poor data out.

My new favourite method is one that has cropped up recently...the checkbox confirmation where you tick for fulfilling the predefined selection criteria that is a list of single sentence statements which is a great way to exclude viable candidates. I want the job, am qualified, have the experience but can't tick a poorly worded predefined selection criteria...there is nothing more frustrating. All it takes is for the person writing the statement to exclude or include a word and then people feel they have either two options, lie and say you meet the criteria which is unethical or don't apply. Granted this is easier than filling out a written selection criteria but in the end if you as an employer are happy to pay for a service that is quick, easy and unforgiving then that is your choice. In the end all I'm suggesting is that often what you want is not what you need and often the criteria that is defined is set by people who do not actually understand the effect or do not care because in the end they get paid.

Finally bring on the video application...because we as humans are so comfortable sitting in front of a camera talking to someone that isn't there. I don't know about you but I'm no trained actor and I communicate best with someone I can see. Asking me to tell you about myself in a video is unnatural, it deprives me of the ability to look someone in the face, guage my response and determine if I have answered the question satisfactorily. This is in effect a way for employers to assess who you are, what you look like, how you dress etc without actually interviewing you. Personally, I think if I am going to be judged then the employer should have to do the same so I have the ability to determine if I want to work with them. Quite honestly I feel this increases the likelyhood of discrimination from the get go as they have the ability to assess how you look, speak etc without actually interviewing you. It's also a great waste of time as the candidates spend hours preparing, recording, rerecording, over and over to get the best possible / perfect outcome that may result in nothing. A bit cruel in my opinion and in no way has this actually improved the selection process. If you assess whether you like someone or not within the first seven (7) seconds of meeting them then you haved deprived candidates of the advantage of having boosted confidence at being short listed...do you know actors any better after watching them in a movie or an interview or do you acknowledge that they are different in person?

I'm sorry to tell you but the best candidate for the job is often filtered out, especially in big companies. I personally have worked in large businesses where managers have the option to decide from the short list or the full list with many of them opting to see the full list and discovering much better candidates than the short list presented. But lets for a moment consider what happens after you choose your short list, when the candidates get through all these hurdles only to get to the interview. If you advertise the way you are required to by the ACCC the job should be as advertised, it is not in your best interest for a candidate to get to an interview and think that the job is nothing like what was advertised or offered remumeration much lower than they would considered possible. Candidates shouldn't be finding out about very undesirable tasks or be asked to take on tasks completely unrelated to the actual job you are being hired to do at the interview...seriously this is not OK. Recruitment is effectively a statement of your professionalism and integrity as an employer or provider so it says alot about how you as a company operate. Take it seriously, it is a form of marketing and while you are looking to get the best for less consider the experience of the people who apply to work for you because they have a voice and have the right to use it.

As an employer why should you care that people can't get through to an interview if you get hundreds of applicants which match your criteria? The answer to this is simple...if you got it right every time why do I hear so many employers complaining about horrible employee experiences? So how would I do it? Well unfortunately we can't give away everything for free these days and essentially this is why we offer our services to help you find better candidates. I'd very much like to see recruitment be treated as a valuable process that needs to be given consideration, effort and seen as the valuable marketing tool it is. One of the first questions you need to ask yourself as a business is what do you think is going to happen if everyone is paying people the bare minimum and people are doing more than just the job they should be doing? I personally would like to say that every business is likely to see some impact on their revenue as people start to not spend, employees are unproductive because their work isn't meaningful and they hate their job...think about it... Not to mention the decline in superannuation and increased pressure on government which means someone is being taxed more and if the average worker is taxed less it has to come from somewhere...

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Brent Webster
Technical Services Manager

Bunbury, Western Australia

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