That was frustrating as hell. 

To spend 6 months in a HR loop for a senior leadership role in a very well known technology company (whose name will be spared embarrassment at this point), have several interviews over that period, once for another role only to convince the potential hiring manager to review the current course and go back to the original vacant position, then be offered that role as a trial, only to be told at the last second on a Friday afternoon that it’s back to square one. That.

The thing is, the role profile was extremely clear having been created by the hiring manager, and was one I’m very familiar with having fulfilled it myself. It’s not like there are no previous industry examples as Chief Evangelist kicking around either, or articles written by one in particular, Guy Kawasaki, to draw from. Hell, I even had one published on Venturebeat myself a couple of years ago.

But to drag a candidate through a process that culminated in 6 months of constant chasing for updates, moving of goalposts, a constant lack of decision making and sense of urgency, was a sign I should have paid attention to. This was a company that didn’t really know what it wanted. It was also reflective of the leadership in place.

It’s no secret that the longer it takes to hire senior staff the higher the likelihood they’ll leave in the first year because the initial experience does not match expectation. In several industries there’s a lot of talk about Customer Experience Management, creating new experiences for end consumers that give them the WOW factor and retain their business.

It’s a shame there’s nothing in the HR industry like Candidate Experience Management.

But the point I really want to drill into is this: this company prides itself on culture. In fact, its cultural code is extremely visible and well published, it was one of the main attractions I focused in on during the whole experience. Sadly, it did not extend across every process and didn’t exist in the most important process of all; the interviewing, recruitment and onboarding of potential new candidates.

And this is why recruitment and HR onboarding must change.

New employees who attended a well structured onboarding orientation program, were 69 percent more likely to remain at a company up to three years. Losing an employee due to their experiences of being confused, feeling alienated, or lacking confidence is a sign of poor onboard programming.

The company claims that it treats employees like friends and family. It’s not enough to write a nice set of words for your website if the most critical and first touchpoint for a potential new employee with a new employer is god-damned awful. Granted, I never made it across the line to become a new employee, but again the point is that the candidate experience before onboarding has to at least match the experience of starting a new role.

Because if a company treats external candidates with a level of unprofessionalism, then how does it treat its clients and customers ?

Should potential candidates be treated like a friend and a member of the family or just someone in the HR pipeline ?

A study by SHRM concluded that:

  1. Nearly 4 percent of new employees leave their new jobs after a disastrous first day.
  2. A significant percentage of new employees quit their jobs within the first 6 months.
  3. Half of all new hires in leadership positions last three or fewer years.
  4. New employees decide within the first 30 days whether they feel welcome in the organization.
  5. 1 in 25 people leave a new job just because of a poor (or no) onboarding program.
  6. 40 percent of senior managers hired from the outside fail within 18 months of hire.
  7. Fewer than one-third of executives are satisfied with the onboarding process – calling it below average or poor.
  8. 64 percent of new executives hired from the outside will fail at their new job – in fact the average CEO is in the job less than 4 years.

I do love the industry I work in, and especially the Chief Evangelist style of role within in as it sits in my sweet spot, but please, before embarking on trying to hire one do a little research first. So my search continues.

There is an argument for extending the candidate experience beyond onboarding and into the entire recruitment process itself from start to finish. And after being at the blunt end of a lengthy and drawn out frustrating example, I know which side of the debate I’m siding with.

Let’s change recruitment. From the outside in.