Tweak your application process to be more respectful

Posted December 14, 2016 by


The same tools that save recruiters time often make the application process feel robotic and cold, at least from the job seeker’s point of view. As you work to woo people into your company, it would be a bad idea to turn them off. You can use time-saving technology and still be respectful and applicant-centric.

Your employer brand will suffer if you don’t take steps to be respectful.

Any negativity that a candidate experiences can go viral. Your employer brand doesn’t just depend on the culture you create for current employees. The experience you create for potential employees, including everyone who never gets an interview, is also part of your company brand. Recruiters may groan at having to sift through 500 resumes for a single position, but that’s a gold mine for branding. That resume stack represents a captive audience. Unlike your passive followers on social media who you wish would just click “like” occasionally, those job applicants are eagerly waiting to hear from you.

Recruitment skills are like sales skills, so recruiters: sell your brand and your company’s experience. Don’t overlook how important your own customer service skills are. Your candidates are your customers.

Don’t risk losing the top candidates

When you treat candidates like a herd of cattle, think about who you are losing. Employers large and small consistently place soft skills at the top of their wish list. Those skills include integrity, dependability, communication, and ability to work with others. A candidate with high integrity will drop out of the race quickly if they sense that a recruiter doesn’t regard them as worth more than a few seconds of their time. If you lose integrity from your pool, what do you have left?

Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group, agrees that the lack of respect for candidates has consequences. “It can be very devastating to hear nothing.  Even bad news can be taken better than radio silence for days or weeks.” Candidates may have gotten used to being treated insignificantly during the job search, but that doesn’t mean they’ll put up with it for much longer. As companies start to figure out how to treat them better, you don’t want to be the last company standing with a humorless, disrespectful and overly-automated job application process.

A few little tweaks can make a difference

Like other great salespeople, good recruiters know how to read people. Let your recruiters bring their own humanness to the process. Don’t stifle their instincts to be respectful by automating every step of the way. If they truly have no time to insert a human touch along the way, then ask the most jovial member of your team to come up with better automated responses to candidates. Compare these two auto-emails: 

  1. “Thank you for your application. It will be reviewed and should we find your qualifications match our needs, you will be contacted. We do not take phone or email inquiries.”
  2. “Thank you for your interest in our company! Our team is busy reviewing resumes. We wish we could send a personal response to everyone, but there are hundreds of you and only a few of us. We plan to close the posting on January 15 and will interview as many candidates as we think are qualified. You can email us with inquiries, but please understand if we can’t respond right away. You may also connect with us on Twitter @SampleCompany.”

In addition, periodic “touches” will make candidates feel more respected and engaged, even if they are automated messages. When you reach out to your candidates, you are building your employer brand. For example, include videos that show what it’s like to work there, invite them to follow your company on LinkedIn, and answer a few FAQ to avoid a flood of identical inquiries. Better yet, create a FAQ page on your career site, and email the link to candidates.

For top candidates who you don’t select, a simple phone call can make your company stand out in a positive way. Juli Smith says that “in a world of automated alerts, text messages and emails, a simple phone call can really set your organization apart.”

Juli recounts one such phone call from her own experience when she was awaiting news after an interview. “I got a call from the hiring manager but he called to tell me that I was not selected.  He wanted me to know that it had been a very hard decision and he wanted to keep the door open with me for future opportunities.  I remember thinking that was such a classy thing to do and it heightened my respect for the organization.  Even though I was devastated at the time, it allowed me to quickly move on.”

There is an annual survey that collects job seekers’ opinions about their experience with the job search. The survey creator, Potentialpark, takes the results and compares them to career websites, job ads, online applications, and social media channels. Ultimately, they bring the feedback to employers with the hope of influencing change. Many employers are beginning to take notice. Get on top of the trend and keep your candidates hooked.

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