Employers criticised for treating recruitment as a ‘tick box’ exercise

Delivering robust hiring practices crucial for future recruitment, experts say

UK businesses have failed to update their recruitment processes to reflect the modern jobs market, despite increased investment in services such as screening, a new report has found.

The number of standard and enhanced background checks carried out between April 2014 and January 2016 increased by 80 per cent and 27 per cent respectively, according to new data from Complete Background Screening (CBS). But it warned that many organisations were simply using screening as a compliance measure, rather than as part of genuine investment in recruitment.

“We’re left wondering how many businesses are fully engaging in employment screening as a responsible approach to safeguarding their workforce and overall finances – and how many are simply increasing their uptake of screening services as a tick-box exercise to comply with legislation,” said Rachel Bedgood, chief executive of CBS.

The report coincides with the release of a white paper about the lack of feedback in recruitment. Featuring input from leading HR and employment groups – including the CIPD, Business in the Community (BITC) and the Association of Graduate Recruiters – the paper has been submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Charlie Taylor, chief executive of graduate careers app Debut and founder of the Fight for Feedback campaign, said consistent feedback was “crucial” to motivating jobseekers, improving the recruitment process and boosting the labour market. Earlier this year, a survey of 1,000 18 to 23-year-olds by Debut found that 83 per cent of jobseekers who attended a face-to-face interview did not received feedback from the employer, despite 77 per cent believing it should be a legal requirement.

“We know that the holistic value in giving feedback far outweighs the time it takes to share it with candidates,” Taylor said. “This campaign will have a positive impact on the quality of candidates in the future and it will cut down the time it takes to find the right person – eventually the UK workforce will benefit as more people will be in employment. This campaign is a crucial step change that will make life easier for employers in the future, especially as recruitment will be impacted by the ageing population and the uncertainty caused by Brexit.”

Grace Mehanna, campaign director of BITC’s talent and skills team, said: “For young people applying for a job for the first time, constructive feedback is vital – it helps them to learn from their experiences and improve their applications. With youth unemployment remaining disproportionately high, employers need to do more to demystify the recruitment process and providing feedback is an essential part of this.”

However, feedback can be a legally tricky issue for employers. Earlier this year, a tribunal ruled that Citizens Advice Merton & Lambeth had discriminated against a former employee after providing negative references to a prospective employer, while Tecomak Environmental Services came under fire for describing a job applicant as a "left-wing loon tree hugger".