The candidate experience is one of the most discussed recruitment measures in talent acquisition, and the employee experience has become a hallmark of talent management. But what about the recruiter experience?
Successful recruitment depends on a positive experience for recruiters, which includes solid collaboration with hiring managers and other stakeholders, optimized work processes, and investments in technology to elevate recruiters from "order takers" to talent advisors.
Finding and keeping recruiters is critical as organizations navigate one of the tightest labor markets in decades.
Reports have shown that companies have increased their recruiting budgets to meet these challenges, but the most critical role in talent acquisition (TA) success is too often overlooked, said Madeline Laurano, founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research, a recruiting technology advisory firm based in Boston. "As organizations rush to transform talent acquisition, many have lost sight of their recruiters, the people doing the actual work. Companies will not be able to build strong recruiting teams if they do not understand and validate the recruiter experience."
According to a recent study conducted by Aptitude Research, 58 percent of recruiters do not believe that leadership understands their role in the organization. As a result, recruiters are feeling overworked, burned out and unappreciated, Laurano said. One-third of recruiters surveyed are looking for new jobs.
The most damaging ramifications of a poor recruiter experience is the loss of qualified talent, said Elaine Orler, managing director, consulting, at Cielo Talent, a recruitment process outsourcing firm based in Brookfield, Wis. "The business sometimes forgets that their recruiters are marketing and sales agents. They are thought of as being in HR, but their target market is external. Recruiters who are not supported to recruit won't recruit well," she said.
The candidate experience will also suffer, Laurano said. "Recruiters are often the first point of contact with candidates, and if they are unhappy or don't feel appreciated, that will be picked up by the candidate."
If you listen to your recruiters, you'll learn quickly where the bottlenecks are in the recruitment process, Orler added. "And recognize that recruiters are professionals that have the same accountability and value proposition to the organization as the sales function."
Technology Is a Differentiator
One of the most important factors of the recruiter experience is facilitating efficient workflows so recruiters can focus on building relationships with candidates instead of being bogged down with administrative tasks or doing work that artificial intelligence tools can perform much more quickly.
"In a positive recruiter experience, technology is an enabler, a predictive tool that allows the recruiter to be more successful in decision-making," Orler said. "In a negative experience, technology only serves as a transaction engine or is a set of disconnected systems that requires duplicative data entry."
Technology should fuel efficiency and make lives simpler, said Josh Secrest, vice president of client advocacy and marketing at AI assistant software company Paradox and the former global talent leader at McDonald's. "When it comes to recruiters specifically, technology should be taking work off their plates," he said. "By automating tasks like screening, scheduling and responding to frequently asked questions, recruiting tech should free them up to give more value back to the business."
Technology plays a significant role in a recruiter's overall job satisfaction, experts agree.
Aptitude Research's study found that 50 percent of recruiters would join another organization if it had better TA technology.
"With better tech that helps them do the mundane parts of their job," Secrest said, "recruiters are more likely to stay and grow at the business. Recruiting technology plays a crucial part in why the best recruiters stay in their role and why they also might look elsewhere."
The types of TA technology that drive the most value differs for various stakeholders, Laurano said. "HR and TA leaders are prioritizing candidate relationship management solutions this year, while recruiters identified sourcing, AI matching and digital interviewing tools as having the most value to their role," she said. "Recruiters would benefit from technology across talent acquisition, from recruitment marketing to onboarding, but they really want sourcing technology. A big challenge recruiters face is identifying talent."
Orler added that recruiters want tools that give them more intelligence to make better decisions. "They want talent intelligence platforms and decision-support technology like candidate scoring and ranking products," she said. "They want screening tools to better filter through the noise. What they don't want is to spend hours in the ATS [applicant tracking system] doing transactional process work. You can hire a coordinator to do that. Your best recruiters are out there building relationships and nurturing candidates."
Adoption of automation tools has been growing, and whether it's in job advertising, interview scheduling or candidate communications, automation "has been absolutely life-changing for recruiters," Laurano said.
Secrest added that "an AI recruiting assistant can save recruiters up to 16 hours a week in screening and scheduling tasks, which gives them more time to create a high-touch, intentional candidate experience."
Recruiters Not Included
Many organizations have decided to invest more in TA technology, yet they sometimes make life more difficult for recruiters by implementing solutions without first consulting them.
"As companies build more-robust TA tech stacks to support their recruitment efforts, they are looking at technology without always considering the user—the recruiter," Laurano said. "The disconnect between the technology that companies implement and the technology that drives value stems from a flawed decision-making process. Only 32 percent of companies stated that recruiters are involved in TA technology decisions."
Orler said the majority of technology delivered to recruiting teams is still predominantly transaction-based. "Technology is often designed on process definition," she said. "What happens is that recruiters are not involved enough in process definition. Because of that, they are not able to help design the technology to support their role."
Orler said this happens because recruiters are incredibly busy and leadership does not want to distract them from finding talent, and because IT staff believe they know technology better and can dictate the vendor selection process.
Integration Is Top Grievance
Integration has long been a point of frustration for many talent acquisition professionals, and 60 percent of recruiters surveyed by Aptitude Research cited poor integration as the greatest frustration with HR technology.
"Understand that integration is crucial to the recruiter experience," Laurano said. "Integrating talent acquisition and HR systems has significant benefits in providing consistent data, enabling a better experience and eliminating manual processes. Systems that are not seamlessly integrated create more administrative work and delays for recruiting teams."
Many companies lack the dedicated resources and underestimate the needs and expectations of IT to build integrations, Laurano said. "And IT [staff] are typically preoccupied with other priorities," she added.
But while integration is still a point of frustration, capabilities to integrate have come a long way. More TA technology vendors are establishing partnerships with one another and supporting marketplaces full of plug-in solutions. "Even the big vendors are opening up to be able to integrate with the TA technology community," she said.