The Recruitment Experience: Expectations vs Reality

Kerrie Gregory
6 mins read
Recruitment Industry 2019 agency recruitment AI customer experience customer journey innovation job search recruitment industry technology

August marks my 13 year anniversary in the world of recruitment. This milestone has led me to reflect on the changes in my career, and in the world at large, since those early days when I was a Para Consultant in the Contact Centre team. Just this week, I was reading an article about the rapid growth of RaaS– that’s Robots as a Service! In contrast, 13 years ago Twitter was just launching (with Instagram still 4 years away), and HDDVD and Blu Ray were the height of technological viewing sophistication. It’s obvious technology has been evolving at a breathtaking speed over the last decade.

But what about the recruitment industry? It’s an interesting case. Because while we certainly use some technology on a daily basis, it’s a very human-interaction centred industry, complete with its own idiosyncrasies and challenges.

Recruitment as it was

Looking back at our business in 2006… although Madison still received 10+ CVs via fax each day, fax machines were well and truly on the way out. Candidates applied for a job though SEEK or directly via our company website—sound familiar? The typical end-to-end process involved a Consultant screening volumes of CVs, then conducting numerous telephone screens—usually after a significant amount of ‘phone tag’, several interviews requiring large chunks of time from all parties involved, skills and psychometric testing, background checks (more missed calls and phone tag), shortlisting and a whole mountain of paperwork.

Given this was our process all those years ago, I probably shouldn’t remember it in as much detail as I do. But that’s the interesting thing…’s not just what our process ‘was’. If you’re in recruitment, especially in an agency, I think you’ll agree that for the most part, this process is still relatively the same. While I definitely don’t think anything is ‘broken’ with this recruitment approach, we can’t deny that the world has changed a lot in the last decade. In particular, the way humans like to view, learn and share information. Yet in my opinion, there is still very little choice in each step of the process to reflect these changing needs and desires.

A 2019 job search scenario

Picture yourself as an enthusiastic young job seeker, on the hunt for your next role. Born in the very late 90s, you graduated a year or so ago, and have entered adulthood as a digital native; with a device in your hand that bundles communication, entertaining, shopping and education in one. You chat with your friends, one on one, and as a group, through multiple platforms, holding several conversations at once, and at any time. As a retail consumer, you enjoy a seamless 24/7 experience where you can order a product in the evening, and receive it the next day (with continuous status updates along the way). If you have an issue with your purchase, you chat online, probably with a bot, to resolve the problem.

However when it comes to your job hunt, you apply for a job, and wait. You’re advised by email that you qualify to move to a pre-screening stage, and you have to exchange emails back and forth to set up a time to talk over the phone (not your preferred method of communicating). While you are given a few time slot choices, all of them are during business hours, to suit the organisation’s schedule. There are limited options to text, video chat, or use other alternate channels.

This experience is echoed throughout the recruitment process, from the beginning, right through to the job offer. And while certainly we, and other organisations, make a solid effort to ensure it’s a positive experience for candidates, ultimately it’s not reflective of the type of experience that consumers are now used to, and have come to expect.

Making changes

That’s why this financial year, Madison made a strategic decision to invest in business improvement, innovation and technology. Our goal is to improve both the candidate journey and client experience. I am fortunate to be to leading this exciting project in my role as National Business Improvement Manager, and I can say that after four months of intensive, international research, we are now beginning to understand how we can do things a little differently.

The linchpin of the recruitment journey is our Candidate Relationship Management (CRM system), so we’ve now committed to find a new, best-in-class CRM to streamline and augment our client and candidate experience. In addition, we’re considering all kinds of incredible technological tools, with a laser focus on enhancing the customer journey. Here are just some of the technologies we’ve been reviewing:

  • Virtual recruitment assistants, enabling job seekers to have their questions answered quickly and efficiently.
  • Video interview technologies that allow seamless any-time, any-place interviews.
  • Reference checking tools which mean verification can be done via multiple channels, prepopulated where appropriate, and at any time.
  • Employer portals that provide real-time data on recruitment spend and the status of the recruitment exercise.

Our ultimate aim is to provide more choice, in every step of the process, accompanied by an outstanding level of customer service.

Sharing what we’ve learned

The recruitment world can often be closed when it comes to ideas sharing, and to some degree, I understand this, as there are commercial realities to every situation. However, I think we all have the same drive—to place excellent candidates in excellent roles and provide an incredible experience to all parties along the way.  As we continue through this journey, I’ll be sharing updates on what we’re trying, and how it’s going. I plan to be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly—while hoping it’s mostly the former!

I’m also really keen to hear your experiences, so if you’re interested in anything process improvement, innovative or recruitment technology, follow my blog posts, and let’s start a conversation. You can comment below, or email me at

Kerrie Gregory
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