Is it Time for a Candidate Bill of Rights?

Fairly recently, influentials such as ERE and Monster were working to build momentum regarding the creation of a “Bill of Rights” for job seekers. Due to the enormous amount of talk at #truBoston and on recent Twitter chats (see the transcript from #HFChat) regarding employer branding and applicant black holes, I’ve been thinking about this issue again.

With recruiter transparency and forced accountability through social media, organizations clearly understand their brand as an employer is just as important as their consumer brand. Equally apparent is the growing dissatisfaction felt by job seekers; at a time when the most compassion is warranted, employers are seemingly ignoring basic human communication. Worse yet, far too many employers blame that failure on the “overwhelming” volume of resumes received (which at times seems akin to the owner of a restaurant complaining that the line of diners outside his door is too long).

Perhaps this entire matter comes down a matter of setting – and meeting – “consumer” expectations: candidates expect human communication from those in human resources.

With that in mind, I’d like to suggest a Candidate Bill of Rights – a “manifesto” if you will – to be adopted by:

  • Employers who sincerely care about providing superior customer service to candidates
  • Candidates with experience that closely matches the qualifications specified by the employer

This Bill of Rights would certainly be situational to industry, and perhaps the recruiting/branding goals of the companies, but may look something like this:

XYZ Company Candidate Bill of Rights

  1. Throughout our talent acquisition efforts, you have the right to expect our internal processes, technologies and recruiters to treat you and your application with respect and dignity.
  2. You have the right to expect the job description and/or career opportunity to be honestly and accurately described, including the right to know if internal candidates are scheduled to receive preference as candidates.
  3. You have the right to expect acknowledgment/receipt of your application to include properly set expectations (“Only those whose qualifications meet our stated requirements will be contacted…” and/or “if you meet those requirements, you will be contacted by <date>).
  4. You have the right to expect complete privacy and confidentiality.
  5. You have the right to be assessed as a candidate, only on your ability to do the job; specifically, we will not discriminate against you for being unemployed at the time of your application.
  6. If scheduled for an interview, you have the right to expect us to respect your time and meet our agreed upon commitments.
  7. During the interview, you will be told of the internal decision-making process, including timelines.
  8. Also during the interview, you have the right to expect us to answer all of your questions accurately.
  9. After the interview, you will receive personal communication from a member of our recruiting team notifying you of status as a candidate and describing next steps, if any.
  10. After the interview, you have the right to know your status as a candidate.
  11. If another candidate has been chosen, you have the right to expect written or verbal notification within 5 business days of the acceptance of the offer.
  12. After the hiring decision has been made, should you ask for feedback you have the right to expect us to provide such feedback whenever possible (even if the response takes the simple form of “another candidate was chosen based on her qualifications and experience set”).

Of course, a Candidate Bill of Rights would not (and should not) be regulated and enforced by some acronym-labeled agency – and as such would require a top-down approach to self-compliance to be taken seriously by the consumer/job seeker.

I would argue, however, that a company that deliberately follows this course of action will need to spend far less time developing and talking about their “employer” brand – their reputation will speak for them, loud and clear. In the meantime, their competition will remain stuck in ATS purgatory supported by demons in the form of recruiters who fail to treat candidates with respect.

What are your thoughts? Is it time for a Candidate Bill of Rights? What rights would you add?

About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.

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