Your brand is the COMPLETE experience, every interaction, anything that can change motivation and/or attitudes, with your company. This can include the consuming of your product and service, repair, suppliers and yes your recruitment process. The good modern brands are human and often concrete, you can trust them.
You are only worth an automated response..
If a person spend hour’s, maybe days writing a letter of introduction, adapting their resume/CV, maybe even pulling a slideshow or video together for you. And than they receive a notification that you will not even bother contacting them, because you have so many applicants. You know this type of letter:
Thank you for your interest in XXXX Company and for sending us your resume link and supporting information. We’re always looking for the best and brightest new candidates who are interested in joining our fast-growing team.
Please note, due to the vast number of enthusiastic applicants, we are only able to contact those we select for interviews. We will however take the time to review your resume, cover letter and all related materials you’ve sent through, and will contact you if you are selected as a shortlisted candidate.
We frequently add new positions to the Careers Page so keep an eye out for more opportunities to work at XXXX company.
I wonder who in an organisation is so naïve that they feel that this experience will encourage the ‘recruit’ into buying any of your products let alone a service. Many organizations don’t mash together their HR and marketing talent. When the applicant started the process the applicant was a keen advocate, which you have turned into something else.
No closure for the applicant
The typical scenario is where the applicant is not even told when you have been thrown out of the process, or when the process is complete and they have not got an interview. The applicant then does not even get a chance for closure. The first they may hear is through a press release on your website or indeed nothing. That’s just plain mean and very common.
As an applicant we only care if you have the capability
Most employers will not look at a candidates’ application if they have not even taken the time to write a relevant cover letter that covers off the person spec. So they expect you to spend time on them but they are not always willing to do the same. Aren’t good relationships formed on equality?
You are just a transaction..
It seems most Applicant Tracking Systems have being built from the aspect that you are just another process to deal with. They do not see you as a human that or you should be treated with dignity or respect. In fact the more they ‘take over’ the process the less human you are treated. People are not simple nor are the ways you should interact with them.
We are often more protective of our friends than ourselves
The applicant may not be alone during this journey through your recruitment system, as they may share it with their friends e.g. can you check the letter please, especially if they are woman. Friends don’t take it kindly if you reject, ignore or attack their friends. You haven’t just pissed off one person; congratulations you just gained two pissed off people for the price of one – who now thanks to online social media have the ability to share globally. They may not indeed talk about the job application process, they just may look at all your marketing as another ‘poke in the eye and respond negatively.
Your worse case scenario is that you have just given them the motivation (see this TED video) for the job applicant and their friends to dislike your products and services and look to your competitors.
Bottom line – the buying power of every rejected applicant is?
In the end this will affect you financially. The chances are that you will reject more applicants than you will take on board. You will, probably still want them as a consumer? Who will pay a company that has just rejected them? or even taken the time to communicate, er, anything after the initial application.
Not just B2C
In the B2B sector relationships are even more important and in the end B2B purchases come down to a very human emotion e.g. Trust.
StartWire, recently completed a survey of 2,000+ job seekers, asking how a company’s application process affected their view of the brand. This is what we heard:
- 77% said they think less of companies that don’t respond to job applicants,
- 72% would be deterred from recommending or speaking positively online of your company
- 58% said they’d even think twice about buying your products or services if they don’t ever hear from you after they submit their application.
Outsourcing to save money
I wonder who missed the lessons from out sourcing call-centres to another country where the understanding of both culture and language was insufficient to handle the customer care in an appropriate manner. Now its automated on a computer (and they are really known for their customer care!), you are not even worth a human response.
Good ‘customer service’
If your customer service system treats your customers as just a transaction you deserve to go out of business. Humans want to be treated with respect and dignity. Even politicians know this hence why some of the most sophisticated marketing happening on the planet is happening in election campaigns. But some of the best sustained examples I have seen in customer service are from Zappos (http://www.zappos.com/) or Freshbooks (http://www.freshbooks.com/) They essentially treat you with respect and appreciate your time is as valuable as theirs.
Who is accountable for this?
Maybe the CEO for not paying attention or CFO for cost cutting, or the HR leader being squeezed or even the CMO for not considering the brand impact. In the end HR needs people to ensure a good experience.
The days of unaccountable recruitment and HR process are coming to an end if you are consumer-facing provider.
On-line systems are rating well everything. For example http://www.ratemyemployer.ca/ it’s only a matter of time when people start rating recruitment systems and HR. We already have individual rating systems for people such as http://blog.ratemyprofessors.com/
It will not get easier to find talent, just more competitive
The economist wrote two pieces about how hard it is in get the right talent:
The Search for Talent – http://www.economist.com/node/8000879
The battle for brainpower – http://www.economist.com/node/7961894
Another article of interest – Canadian tech CEOs see shortage in talent. – http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/emerging-company/connecting-vision-to-reality/ceo-report-emerging-companies.jhtml
In these circumstances, is it wise to give job applicants a good experience? They may return and have grown since they last applied, if you gave feedback last time, they may have responded to it and exceed your expectations on the next attempt.
Now add Generation Y behaviour to this and you have an interesting power cake just around the corner.
Is your recruitment system losing you customers and damaging your brand? How many job applicants did you reject last year? How much social influence did they each have?
It seems to me that corporate culture is on a journey from repression to expression from viewing human beings as number, resources, sales figures to, surprise, human beings. It can be seen in the HR titles e.g. VP Personnel -> VP Human resource -> VP People. I think the organisations that have the lead HR person reporting into finance or corporate or operations are worse off. There is one person, that a lead HR person should report into i.e. CEO. In terms of political power HR are generally one of the weakest on a board (if they are even on it), I think in part because so many of their process orientated capabilities are being outsourced, maybe because people are too complex or too emotional compared to finances/sales/operations. Or maybe its because in some organizations leaders are taking on the role of HR for their teams (about time).
Reward, if possible give feedback and say thank you
The job applicant, was a person who wanted to help your organization grow, for a moment in time were probably your most passionate advocate. Yet they are often treated like robots, resources or costs. How would you like to be treated? If someone has invested more time in your company than the average, why not say thank you. Tell them what they are missing in terms of capability or fit and prove you mean it. I think the best companies employ on ‘fit’ before capability. Who is to say that this person maybe a future employee? Consider it another form of relationship marketing.
Leadership accountability – Don’t pass the buck!
If a candidate gets through a number of stages, it should not be HR having to give the bad news, the leader should do what they are paid for and give the bad or good news. I believe leadership is taking on the responsibility of your decisions both the easy and tough ones.
- Tell the applicant when they have been removed from the process.
- Give some useful feedback; the chances are that you have spent some time human processing anyways; at least give the biggest single reason why they were knocked out. You may find that there are a lot of standard reasons e.g. you do not have enough relevant experience or the average interview applicant will have 5 years more experience.
- Say thank you in some meaningful way.
- For those who you think culturally match, consider other posts or put on a watch list. But be careful no one believes “we will file it and if something comes up we will contact you.”
- The deeper the experience (number of interviews) the more likely rejection will be felt. But also they are more likely to be match for your organization and thus the more likely they may be a future employee.
- For all candidates that have being interviewed by the manager, should be given the news by the manager.
You are nothing without your people. The ones you have now and the ones you have yet to work with.