Why droves of Airbnb’s best HR people are applying for new jobs

Usually when staff are applying for roles with other companies en-masse, it spells trouble ahead. But at Airbnb, it was a chance to drastically improve their HR function

Why droves of Airbnb’s best HR people are applying for new jobs
At Airbnb, the best recruiters apply to jobs at other companies. And that’s not because they intend to leave – it’s what the company’s head of recruiting, Jill Riopelle, instructed them to do.

Applying to jobs elsewhere allowed the recruiters to step into candidates’ shoes and compare the company’s own application process with that of their competitors. When the social accommodation service was looking to revamp their candidate experience, they found that Airbnb’s process was similar to every other company they applied to.

The team took what they learnt and rebuilt their recruiting practice to put the candidate at the center of the process. Every applicant receives correspondence from the company, and rejected ones are always invited to call for feedback. Since the changes were made, Riopelle told LinkedIn that the firm sees many more second-time candidates and friends of candidates applying.

But the firm stands as an exception in its focus on candidate experience. According to CareerBuilder, 75% of workers who applied for jobs in the past year did not hear back from employers, and 26% of applicants reported having a bad candidate experience.

Elaine Orler, Chairman of The Talent Board which runs the Candidate Experience Awards, says despite the disappointing experience, many HR departments have made significant steps forward for candidates in recent years.

"If I look back four years ago before we started the awards process ... the conversation was predominantly negative. There was this concept that no recruiter had the time or need to improve this process," Orler says. "You wouldn't know that you didn't get the job until it was filled three months later, and now you hear back within two or three weeks. It's getting better."

In a controversial move that has the potential of stirring his former colleagues, one former corporate recruiter Matt Charney has such strong feelings about the common candidate experience that he is petitioning the US Department of Labor for legislation to improve the hiring process.

The petition asks the government to force employers to provide applicants with clear information about the hiring process, including time frames of individual steps. The suggested provisions would mean that employers must contact interviewed candidates by phone or in person if they are not selected, and all applicants must be informed within 24 hours of the position being filled.

"Ever since I came in eight years ago, we've been talking about the same sort of things," Charney says. "There have been really good efforts like the Candidate Experience Awards, but nothing has worked ... The only way that the average HR department or practitioner seems to do anything proactive and preemptive is in the area of compliance."

What do you think about Matt Charney’s petition? Share your thoughts here.

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