A Candidate’s Bill of Rights

Aug 23, 2005

Candidates have consistently gotten the short end of technology improvements. While it’s true the tools recruiters have benefited from have often been a mixed bag, for the most part technology has made life their lives easier. Rather than spending all day cold calling or attending events, recruiters can search the Internet for an increasingly large population that has an online presence. Recruiters can electronically store and retrieve resumes and candidate data with much greater ease than they could even a decade ago. They no longer have to type and mail hundreds of letters to candidates and potential candidates with updates and with news of offers or rejection. Websites have eased the need for weekly job ads and most organizations have greatly reduced or eliminated all print advertising. But the candidates have gotten very little. From email to caller ID and voicemail, recruiters are able to hide behind electronic shields that are virtually impenetrable by ordinary candidates. Let’s look at some of the technologies that could help candidates, but rarely do.

  1. Job boards. Job boards promised exposure to more potential employers and an easy one-stop experience for job hunting. What candidates actually get, for the most part, is inclusion among thousands of others who have similar backgrounds or job aspirations. Rather than gain exposure, their resumes become buried with others and get almost no visibility at all.
  2. Email. Email was the easy way to submit a resume, communicate with a recruiter or hiring manager, and receive feedback. In reality, the huge volume of email most recruiters receive causes them to ignore and neglect candidates more than ever before. While favored or selected candidates do enjoy the convenience of email, most feel they have entered an informational black hole.
  3. Voicemail. VM promised a way to ensure that a candidate’s message got delivered to a recruiter and vice versa. Instead, VM along with caller ID has become the primary way of avoiding candidates who the recruiter is not really interested in.
  4. Websites. Websites deliver good information about the organization and the jobs that are open, but few of them provide an interactive experience where a candidate can get questions answered, enter updated information about themselves, receive feedback on cultural fit or skills, or even get notification that a job has been filled.
  5. Applicant tracking systems. ATSs were the answer to the “lost” resume. In the day of snail mail, resumes often never even made it out of the envelope and, even if they did get opened, they still had to be read and screened. The ATS, with its ability to store and retrieve resumes, did make this process much easier for the recruiter, but many resumes simply disappear because of technical glitches and data entry errors. For the candidate, not much has changed because of these systems.

So where are we? We are at a place where candidates are increasingly disenchanted with recruiters, recruiting websites and human resources. Mistreated, ignored, and often frustrated candidates are not likely to say good things about us or our organizations. Many recruiting sites devote space to how employees are treated after they are hired, but it is amazing how few provide any information for candidates on what to expect from the recruiting process itself. Some have added statements about how the data a candidate submits will be used. Federated Department stores has an excellent example of a privacy policy for recruitment. Some recruiters are now in discussion about creating a candidate’s bill of rights, which would outline what candidates can expect as to treatment, confidentiality, and other aspects of the recruiting process. As of today, the only sites where I have found any mention of candidates’ rights or how they might expect to be treated have been those of recruitment agencies. The Association of Executive Search Consultants has a published list of candidates’ rights when using an agency. Accolo a leading recruitment process outsourcing firm, has developed and published its bill of rights, which I have reproduced here and would invite you all to engage in some online discussion about. Do you agree with these rights? What’s missing? What should be changed?

Candidate Bill of Rights

  • Confidentiality: Individuals are entitled to the security and confidentiality of their personal and professional background and data. Any decision to make that data available to others must be at the specific request of the individual.
  • Credibility: All advertised positions must be verifiably open and available to job-seekers, with the intent of the hiring organization to make any and all efforts to fill the open position.yeah
  • Accuracy: The description of an open position should accurately and specifically identify the unique attributes of that position as they relate to the Hiring Manager, organization, geography, work group, work to be completed, and performance measurement criteria.
  • Consideration: All interested candidates, from all available sources, should be considered for an open position based upon their ability and aptitude and that consideration should be free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.
  • Consistency: Hiring decisions will be made based upon on a set of specific and defined criteria that are relevant to the position, consistent across all candidates, and applied objectively.
  • Follow up: All applicants are entitled to consistent communications regarding the status of their candidacy, regardless of the outcome of their application.
  • Preparation: Each individual should expect that they will be provided with all relevant information about the organization and hiring manager in order to best prepare them for success during the interview process.
  • Respect: Scheduling of interviews will occur in a manner that connotes respect for the candidate, their time, and their efforts.
  • Communication: Every inquiry regarding the status of candidacy or application is worthy of a response.
  • Information: All applicants will be provided with the necessary information about the company, hiring manager, compensation, performance expectations, etc. in order to make an informed career decision.

(courtesy of Accolo)

John Younger, the founder and President of Accolo, is passionate about providing candidates with protection and good feedback as they go about the process of job seeking. As fewer and fewer qualified candidates seek out positions, it is critical that we act with responsibility and provide the best possible service to these scarce resources.

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