HR experts at law firm Clarke Willmott LLP are advising businesses to consider the benefits of investing in recruitment training for staff after an environmental services company suffered a PR nightmare. Comment from Bex Sinclair, Head of the HR Consultancy team at Clarke Willmott.
Tecomak Environmental Services in Tonbridge hit the headlines when an internal email chain was accidentally forwarded to graduate Anna Jacobs who was applying for a job at the firm. In an email inviting her to an interview she scrolled down to see the rest of the chain, from a person who was part of the selection process, labelling 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.”
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, businesses must think really carefully about what kind of impression they are giving to candidates in the 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 managers suddenly pales into insignificance by comparison.
Top tips on how to avoid HR disasters
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!