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Vend Recruiters Designing the Art of Rejection

By October 13, 20164 Comments

The differences between agency and in-house recruitment are well documented.  Age old fables like in-house recruiters hating sales, not “cutting it” in agency land, or being more admin focused have rubbed shoulders in recent years with more progressive ideas of recruiters preferring a broader strategic approach versus those with a more one-company mindset necessary to develop employer branding, workforce planning and key stakeholder engagement initiatives.

One thing that both sides of the great divide have always had in common, though, is our inherent ability to piss off jobseekers. We seem to be universally talented at achieving this. Why that is might have something to do with our undeniably evil propensity for being sociopaths.  Or maybe it’s simply that we actually reject more people than we place and can’t realistically please all of the people all of the time. Dunno.

However, there is an in-house recruitment function that is ambitiously trying to set itself apart in this regard.

Rivers Rainey, Global Talent Manager at Vend, was speaking on this topic at the Auckland Recruitment Meetup earlier this week (kindly hosted in the swish new offices of Madison). He caused quite a stir in the audience when he revealed that at Vend they arrange to talk with every single job applicant that submits a CV to the company.

I’ll just let that sink in for a moment… Every candidate that applies to their vacancies is offered an initial phone interview.

Image result for large crowd megaphone

Now I imagine your recruiter brain is currently somersaulting through the scenarios were you to immediately adopt a similar policy. Most of us have built our recruitment careers up during a period where HR technology has contrived to make it ever easier for jobseekers to apply to jobs. This has led to wild increases in application volumes but also an increase in spam and a decrease in quality.

To combat this yet more HR technology has evolved to restrict, limit, and filter the applicants that actually come through to the recruiter. And so it is for our man Rivers, who recommended Calendly to schedule the phone interviews and Weirdly to filter applicants for culture fit (who also gave a talk at the Meetup, thanks Dale).

All of this has resulted in some interesting data that Rivers kindly shared:

Last month Vend received 400 applicants.  All of them were offered an online chat via Calendly, which led to 244 conversations. The others didn’t respond – see my earlier comments about spam job applicants. Vend then send all of the rejected candidates (not the ones that actually ended up landing the job) an AskNicely survey which is based around the NPS framework.

This has been the impact on Vend’s candidate experience:

Vend NPS trend

Looks impressive, right?

But what are we recruiters seeking to really glean from these kinds of outcomes? Does it really warrant the huge amount of time needed to invest in conversations with applicants, even the ones (the many, usually), who are wildly inappropriate and unsuited for the roles for which they have applied?

Are we wasting their time as much as ours? Given that only 38.1% of the applicants sent this survey actually responded with their score, is this not going to unnecessarily pernickety extremes to appease the tiny majority who might feel disrespected by being sent a standard rejection email?

Or is this, ultimately, the newest divide between agency and in-house recruitment?

Certainly, the greatest swelling of unrest at this concept came from the agency recruiters in the audience. But then agency recruiters don’t have the brand reputation and risk of upsetting an actual or potential customer that in-house functions have. Or does the oftentimes vague nature of agency recruitment ads generate a greater volume of vague and inappropriate applications, a volume by which surely any agency can’t conceivably talk to every single applicant?

Image result for rejection trapdoor

I’m all for the sentiment behind this, and I applaud Rivers and Vend for their intent here. But I’d be surprised to hear of any recruitment agency, or other in-house function for that matter, managing to adopt the same policy. Prove me wrong in the comments below!

I’ll finish off, though, with a comment sent to one of our own on-demand recruiters in Christchurch earlier this week:

“Hi Maria

Many thanks for your message – it’s one of the nicest rejection emails I’ve ever had! 🙂

Of course you can keep my details on your database and I would be more than happy for you to contact me if a suitable post comes your way.”

We might not be able to talk to every single applicant that applies, but if we can still inject a little heart, personality, and respect into our responses then hey, we’re getting halfway there.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Paul Heath says:

    But then agency recruiters don’t have the brand reputation and risk of upsetting an actual or potential customer that in-house functions have. Really?

    • Jonathan Rice says:

      Not to the same degree no. Although I maybe didn’t phrase it properly. What I’m trying to say is in-house recruiters have the consumer brand reputation of their employer’s actual product to consider in the whole candidate experience thing too. Agency recruiters have the brand and rep of their own agency to consider, mostly, but their actions won’t be so intrinsically entwined with the end-employer’s brand itself.

  • Christine Seagar says:

    Nice one again, Jon! The joy of my Friday work morning in Germany 🙂

  • Chiel Van Asch says:

    good post! do we really need software to evaluate and auto-reject candidates? how much time is being wasted? If a consultant is being inundated perhaps they need look at the quality and quantity of ads they post, or perhaps they need to be more efficient in how they actions applications.