When a company sets out to fill a vacancy, there is a specific process involved. In some cases, this is relatively simple but it can also be along, protracted process with many steps that sometimes make candidates (And Recruiters!) feel as though they are jumping through hoop after hoop.
Job applicants become frustrated because they don’t have visibility of the entire process. They have to rely on feedback and communication in order to understand what to expect next, and where they fit into the step by step series of actions that have to take place before a job offer can be made.
I hope that breaking down this process into its various components, and communicating it simply, will help to take some of the frustration out and allow job applicants to work with the system, rather than to wrestle with it.
It is worth mentioning here that sometimes, these steps become blurred and it is possible for several of the steps to happen at once, so it can be quite a dynamic situation. On the other hand, it might be a highly controlled process where nothing else will progress before a particular event has concluded fully.
Step 1 – Planning
This happens on the company side. There is a resignation, restructure or other purpose for an increase in headcount. Ideally, a job and person specification is prepared to inform the recruitment process. This is when the salary bracket and benefits package is set, the required skill set defined and a budget for recruitment set.
Step 2 – Define a candidate pool
In order to fulfil any vacancy, it is necessary to get a pool of potential candidates together. This might include both internal and external candidates. The company decides which recruitment agencies they want to deal with, and how they want the job to be filled.
A situation where a single source for developing the candidate pool is used, is very positive for candidates because communication tends to be better.
However, the most common form of finding a candidate pool is to take the “No solution, no fee” recruitment routes (Contingency). This creates competition for the job amongst the agencies involved, and there is often a race for getting a suitable candidate’s CV submitted first. This usually creates a large volume of CV’s from a variety of sources for the hiring manager to screen.
The agency’s ability to influence the client’s decision is defined during this stage. The more agencies involved, the less control any one of them has over the hiring manager’s final decision for interviews due to the numbers involved. If there is an exclusive arrangement or a retained situation, the recruiter has more input into the process.
The agency will advertise the role in various places, and will also search the online databases to find suitable candidates. They will do an initial screening and comparison against the job and person specification, brief candidates about the role and submit CV’s on the candidate’s behalf. It is important to note that, according to the Employment Agencies Act, no submission should be made without the candidate’s express permission to do so, having gained his agreement on the details of the job and remuneration on offer BEFORE sending in the CV.
Step 3 – Screening
Each CV has to be compared to the job requirements in order to decide on which applicants to invite for interview. A more controlled process based on documented data is usually far more objective, but the reality is that, in most organisations, CV’s are simply scanned by agnecies and decisions to submit are made on face value. For this reason, there is not always a lot of information available for briefing candidates.
Step 4 – Decision to interview
Once a CV is sent to the company by the agency, it is compared to all the other submissions and also to the People Specification for the role. The most suitable applications are then invited for a face to face interview, usually arranged through the submitting agency.
In my view, a candidate who applies through an agency should only really consider his application as live once he is invited for an interview with the recruiting organisation. Until then, everything else is based on a totally impersonal selection process.
About Cathy Richardson:
Cathy has worked in the recruitment industry for over 20 years, focussing on the Manufacturing industry. Cathy specialises in placing at Director level, both in the Automotive OE and Aftermarket sectors, sales roles for general manufacturing and also Plant management and project management. Cathy is a Fellow and regional director of the Insititute of Recruitment Professionals, working to elevate the image of the recruitment industry in the South East of the UK.
2009 was a killer for everyone in Manufacturing, and Cathy was made redundant twice in the space of a year. Disillusioned with the brand orientation of the major manufacturing recruitment companies, Cathy decided to set up on her own. Cathy Richardson Associates was born to challenge and overcome the paradigms that exist in today’s recruitment market.
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