Clarke Willmott – Avoiding those epic fails in recruitment

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This time last week I am sure that it was all business as usual at Tecomak Environmental Services. This week, however, no doubt it is a different story as they have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons! Tecomak have taken their website off-line and their Twitter page has been suspended – a proper “PR” nightmare. The cause of this swing in circumstances? The content of an internal email chain made it out to the world press.
What happened?
Graduate Anna Jacobs applied for a job as an office administrator at Tecomak Environmental Services in Tonbridge. In an email inviting her to an interview she scrolled down to see the rest of the email chain, from a person who was part of the selection process, label Ms Jacobs a “home educated oddball” and “a biscuit short of a packet”. It went on to say that Ms Jacobs was “worth an interview if only for a laugh”. Unsurprisingly Ms Jacobs was outraged and took this email to the national and world press where it went viral over the weekend. Epic fail and own goal for the Company for something that could easily have been avoided.
What can you learn from this?
Companies would do well to learn from the service industries; the accepted rule that every unhappy customer will tell at least 10 other people. Candidates who have a bad recruitment experience at your business are no different. With the growth of websites like Glassdoor (the TripAdvisor of the business world for both candidates and employees) do think really carefully about what kind of impression you are giving to your candidates in your recruitment process.
In this case one unhappy candidate told millions of people, no doubt including clients and customers of Tecomak, and this has done untold damage to a company reputation that is sure to have taken many years to build; the costs of which are immeasurable. The cost of some basic recruitment training for their managers suddenly pales into insignificance by comparison!

Top tips for preventing own goals in recruitment

Bex Sinclair, Head of the HR Consultancy team at Clarke Willmott, gives some top tips to help avoid something like this happening to your business:
• Training: Provide training for your managers who are involved in recruitment – including fair selection and discrimination risks.
• Don’t assume: Avoid making any stereotypical assumptions about candidates at any stage in the selection process.
• People spec: Base your decision on whom to shortlist on a detailed personal specification for the role. What skills are essential? What skills are desirable?
• Treat all paperwork as disclosable: Avoid making inappropriate comments about candidates – especially in writing and including emails. Sounds obvious, but remember that all personal data that you hold on candidates is likely to be disclosable in a subject access request if made by the candidate – including any written or recorded comments you have made in the selection process.
• Discuss with an expert: If you have any concerns about a candidate – talk this through with an HR / recruitment expert.
• Recruitment is PR: Treat all recruitment and selection activity as part of your PR function. That is effectively what it is!

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