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Does Your Referral Program Provide the Right Candidate Experience?

My friend Tim Sacket was up over at CareerBuilder yesterday doing his thing - saying the whole concept of candidate experience in recruiting is Slim Shady at best.

His point, and I think its a good one, is that as long as you meet the minimum level of service to candidates, you're probably good to go.  I think at times we probably craft some deep process maps to deliver a great candidate experience, then we fail to deliver on the standard we set.  Which is worse than simply meeting the minimum expectation.

So let's talk about a single piece of the recruiting process - Employee Referrals.  You love employee referrals. You want employee referrals.  When it comes to delivering on the candidate experience (and the employee experience - the person who referred) for referrals, it probably makes sense to do more than the minimum.

But be careful about process mapping more than that- because it's a freaking trap.  Here are your choices related to candidate experience with referrals:

1.  You treat them like normal candidates.  If you have the same processes as most of the country, that doesn't seem like a great choice.  They apply or they get emailed to you, and you treat them like normal people.  FAIL.

2.  You roll out the red carpet for employee referrals, even going to the extent of making the organizational commitment that every referral is going to get at least a phone screen, if not a live interview.  This is common in founder driven companies of both the small and medium variety.  I've seen it in the last month in a company with 2.000 employees.  FAIL.  That's a colossal waste of time, because even though there's gold in employee referrals, there's still plenty of fool's gold and bad candidates.  You've got better things to do with your time.

3.  You hit the middle ground.  You don't treat them like normal candidates, but you don't treat the toothless guy with bad breath like he just matriculated from Google either.  SUCCESS.  Best way to do this?  Make the organizational commitment to give all employee referrals a quick read on whether they are a candidate or not within a week of applying via the employee referral process.  Could be email, could be phone.  Don't wait, handle that 3 minute piece of business early in the process, and you're a winner.

Are you doing #1?  You're broken and need to fix that.  Are you doing #2?  You need to stand up to the leader who's requiring that and give him/her analysis of how much time is being sucked out of the org by attempting to deliver on that standard.  

Candidate Experience doesn't mean you should over-promise.  It probably does mean you should over-deliver.

Comments

James Clark

Middle ground sounds about right. You need to treat them slightly differently but you don't want to be expending energy on someone that you know isn't going to make it.

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