I own and run a specialist recruitment business. It’s called Rattleberry. The sweet spot for us is hiring UX designers. This is not an easy life. There are a lot of requests for talented designers and researchers from our clients but a shortage of available UXers.
One way we try to stand out in the densely populated recruitment agency world is by employing the essence of UX design in our work. That is, we believe in a human centred approach to recruitment. By doing so we to get to know more of the talented UXers out there, and therefore, grow our business.
During his seminal TED talk on human centred design, IDEO’s David Kelley stated that human centred design is about designing human behaviours and personality into products citing the PRADA store experience among other things. Inspired by that vision, we aim to endow decent human behaviour and personality into our candidate journey. For us it’s about understanding how we can improve our process with thoughtful and relatively simple actions, instead of just investing in more technology.
Perhaps only surpassed by real estate and traffic enforcement, recruitment is something that tends to truly infuriate people. We’ve all heard the horror stories of a recruiter not getting back to you despite repeated attempts to contact them, a recruiter not understanding the role or the client they are hiring for etc. For us, all these issues stem from not putting yourself in the candidate’s shoes and not designing your experience in a human way.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
So, as a newish business Rattleberry had the chance to provide a good candidate experience from the outset. Interestingly, traditional recruitment processes are actually very good, if applied properly. They work when a recruitment team has the time and resources to follow the rigorous and thoughtful workflows that best practice would advocate. Although it would be fair to say that nobody sets out to provide a bad experience, commercial pressures in large agencies puts a strain on the ideal recruitment process. At times recruiters don’t receive adequate training or get the time to act as a real account manager or candidate advocate. Other times, poor management leads to elaborate and frankly unmanageable workflows being foisted on recruiters.
A POSSIBLE FIX
The answer does not lie in more technology. There is enough technology between candidates and recruiters at this point. Moreover, the answer is not increased monitoring of the recruiter’s behaviours and more KPIs. The latter, in my opinion, are primarily there to justify a manager’s’ roles to other managers.
The reality is that managers need get out of the way of their human recruiters. In our own little way, Rattleberry consistently strives to adopt human centred design in little things we do every day to make the crucial difference to the candidate experience. Leading to happier job seekers and more satisfied clients. Not to mention recruiters that can sleep a bit easier at night. These benefits are nothing new, from the WikiPedia page;
“Using a human-centred approach to design and development has substantial economic and social benefits for users, employers and suppliers. Highly usable systems and products tend to be more successful both technically and commercially.”
EMPATHY IS THE KEY
I often encourage my team to think back to the last time they actually applied for a job. This reminds them how stressful that time can be in someone’s life. Through empathizing and walking in someone else’s shoes, they can imagine a better candidate experience. So why does it not happen more often?
It must come from the top down, from the managers and owners of recruitment firms. They need to embed and allow a human centred culture to grow. Our role should be to help recruiters have the time to deliver a human centred candidate experience. We need cut out the unnecessary metric measurement and try and automate reporting as much as possible. Cut out meandering meetings and replace them with efficient stand ups instead. A 15 minute, solution orientated meeting with a specified person driving the output and actions. Most of all, managers and owners should recognise and reward when a recruiter displays empathy, good judgement and decency to candidates. It will help you grow your business.
So, in everyday terms what does all this mean? What follows are some of the measures we put into practice day to day. We have also formalised this into our training, compensation and feedback programmes.
The Big Stuff:
- Make sure you and your fellow recruiters are afforded subject matter training to really understand the disciplines they are hiring in. There are plenty online or live courses in UX that you can attend.
- If you proactively reach out to someone, don’t be coy and secretive with the details of the role. You contacted them after all. You jumped into their inbox or sent them a DM. Share the key information such as money, location and client in the very first message.
- Share as much information about the team, the manager and the business as you can get.
- When you don’t know something about a client or a role say so and do your best to find it out.
- Be honest with the candidate about how many people are in the process, and, how many, if any, other agencies are working it.
- Interview candidates properly. Do not send someone forward if you know they are not suitable and tell them why. Try to find them a suitable opportunity.
- When liaising with the client, there is no need to remove contact details and to alter CVs or portfolios. That is old fashioned thinking that benefits no one. I am pretty sure I can Google your candidate.
- Be clear with feedback. If someone has made a commitment to get off work and go to a meeting with your client the minimum they should receive is detailed feedback.
- If that feedback is not forthcoming communicate that to the candidate, don’t leave them without an update.
- Give bad news early.
- Don’t over promise.
- Write back to qualified people who are not quite right for the client’s needs to say they are not suitable.
- If a candidate is not right for a role even though the client thinks otherwise you must let the placement go. Don’t hard sell the candidate on a role you know is not suited to them also. This is people’s lives we’re dealing with.
- Do not add candidates to email marketing lists without asking them.
The Small Stuff:
- Get rid of superlatives in job adverts and emails.
- When you want to talk to candidates about an opportunity, drop someone a text asking what time suits for a call if you are calling during work hours.
- Text them the day before the interview wishing them luck and a Google Map link for their interview.
- Share the interviewer’s mobile number to avoid any mess ups with the interview location. (Get permission to share mobile numbers)
- When the client does not update you and the candidate calls asking for an update, ring them back and say there is no update. This may sound silly and a little disjointed, but I know it means a lot.
Indeed, while the industry waits to become more human overall, UX designers should seek out human centred recruitment agencies or direct employers. Rattleberry is delighted to be one of the recruiter UXswitch.com allows on to their platform for meeting the following criteria;
- Treating UXers with integrity and going the extra mile
- Quality and quantity of UX roles held
- Understanding of UX and involvement in the UX community
For more information and UX jobs, contact Rattleberry. We’ll be glad to have a chat.ByBerfu Sahin