Failing to respond can break your brand

Post by Jon Drogheo
National Director of Talent Acquisition at Empowered Partnerships, LLC

Nationally unemployment is low, and in some states, even lower. The talent we seek for our open jobs are most likely working and don’t “need” to leave or, they are being very selective of who they choose to apply to.

Be proud they selected your company, because you have done a lot of work to get them to this point with brand, however you need to take care of that relationship, that’s valuable! They chose your name and reputation, however the “buying power” (sticking in through the hiring process) is in your performance; your communication, when and how you engage your applicants. How you take care of them is the tipping point for them to stay in the process, and further along the lines, how they speak favorably about you to others they network with, your future referrals of top talent.

Here is a real, personal example of the impact of candidate experience in the process from my background either working in the talent acquisition role, consulting with companies and my personal candidate experience. As you read, be honest with yourself and ask, “Do we (your company) do this?”, “If we do/don’t have these experiences how does it impact our candidate experience” and, “How can/do we measure this?” You will begin to see where, we as employers, must meet candidates where they are to ensure we have the right talent (not just talent) that is required for our businesses. This example supports recent data and research that is flooding our industry; it’s not fluff…it’s happening!

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak for a professional human resources group during a lunchtime learning session. There were several companies represented from many sizes, and industries. I was presenting my research on job seeker behaviors and expectations when looking for jobs and one of the participating companies’ Human Resource Manager and Recruiter of a well-known company approached me with a challenge the were having. Their challenge was that they had a large pipeline of candidates (1000’s of applicants), however the quality (skill depth, years of experience and diversity of skills, etc.) of the candidates had began to decline from their observations. From my experience, candidates don’t just disappear, there is a trigger point. Especially, at this specific moment in time, unemployment rates were relatively high, so there were available qualified and quality candidates. As I posed several questions to understand their process because from my assessment and knowledge of their brand, it was not their recruitment marketing that was turning people off. Long story short, they stopped updating candidates. Not just any candidates, but those who had phone screened, managers interviewed once or twice, and the silver or bronze medalists. Think about it! Who are these candidates? Why were they called, interviewed, and considered for hire? I can hear the gears turning! These were good, quality candidates who at some point could work for the company; a little more experience, or the right team or manager, but nonetheless, someone that had the right skills and talent they needed. Here is the kicker, they had a very robust ATS!

So what do you think happened? Based on my data and current research, those quality candidates reacted as any consumer would. They posted their experience on online. They attended networking groups and spoke to a room of 30-50 job seekers about their poor experience of not being told they were declined, not considered, or a “good candidate but not this time”; a simple status, a human response. But, before they talked and told their story, they decided to never apply again and they were going to be helpful and tell their best friends, family, colleagues to stay away. They, and everyone they told, who told more people, people who very well could have been a great hire for the company decided to stay away as well. There went the quality candidate pool for years to come.

When I shared my viewpoint based on the data and experience, the Human Resources Manager and Recruiter looked at each other with a deflated look and collectively said, “we need to use the ATS to make sure we respond”. That was a serious change of course, because they explained, they had so many candidates that they could not keep up with the responses. My counter to their explanation, was to have them look at what it cost them to not leverage a fully capable ATS or a good Recruiter. By losing a quality applicant pool the company does not hire the right skills or experience levels and leads to some of the following:

  • Increase in defects

  • Higher turnover

  • Lower productivity

  • Loss of revenue

  • Increase in hiring costs

  • Lost reputation to their values of:

    • Communication

    • Employee Development

    • Caring for Employees

This is a bleak picture, but it’s true and it’s currently happening; just ask someone who has been looking for a job in the last six months. We have the power to positively impact our own candidate pool to cultivate and enhance the quality of the pool by communicating any level of status or feedback. You’ve spent time and money to get them to show up on your doorstep. Some you let in and some you invited them into your culture. Let’s use the following as an example of what I am talking about.

You have a friend you connect with really well.  You like them, they’re cool, they believe and appreciate things just like you and like you the same. You buy them a plane ticket and invite them over to hang out more. When they arrive you welcome them warmly, observe to make sure they’re comfortable, and you show them around your house. Just as soon as you show them around and walk them around you ignore them.

What happens? They ultimately walk themselves out the door and never come back, call or connect with you.

Now, imaging if we don’t ignore them and instead, engage with them. We show we care, we respect them; we build a good relationship. While we don’t want all our relationships to move in, we have a good positive way to walk them out, say “thank you” and “see you again soon”. They will come back and maybe tell some more people who you may like you as well. Now you can have a good party instead of being alone.

We have the tools and power to make the experience human. It makes a difference for our company when you can build and cultivate a high-quality candidate pool for your company’s future.