Why You Should Treat Job Candidates Like Customers

We’ve all been there – applying for a job, then waiting anxiously by the phone while compulsively checking email and social media and job sites for a status update on where we stand in the hiring process. We know our resume is one of a couple hundred you received for any one job and that we probably won’t make your shortlist. But knowing we know this doesn’t mean you should delete our emails and forget about us.

I understand – communicating to applicants in each step of the hiring process is very time consuming and can be overwhelming. However, it is not only professional and considerate, it’s also in the best interest of your employer brand to do this. Your employer brand is just as important as your company brand, so setting a positive image is extremely important. Why? Customers talk, so do applicants.

According to a recent survey:

  • 77% of those polled said that they did not hear back from a company after applying, which made these applicants think less of an organization
  • 90% reported that they would feel better if they would simply get back some sort of feedback after applying for jobs
  • 72% of respondents said that they would be less likely to recommend the company’s products or services, if the company does not communicate properly with its candidates

I’m not saying to call each applicant individually to inform him or her of her status – that’s just not reasonable. But there are simpler and more effective ways to communicate with applicants (I’ve listed our top 3 below) to continue attracting the right employees and positioning yourself as a desirable place to work for potential employees.

Get Personal

While the standard “thank you for your time, etc.” mass, automated email is useful for unqualified candidates who don’t even make it to the first round, consider utilizing a more personalized approach when informing your final candidates that they didn’t get the job. Again, I’m not suggesting making a personal call to each applicant you interviewed, but if you’ve narrowed your options down to a few applicants, then you should take a few moments to personally thank them for their time. Serious candidates invest a good amount of time into your interview process, so thanking them for their time is both professional and considerate.

Those who make the short list are entitled to more than a follow-up email or letter. Have someone make a personal telephone call to each candidate that advances to the interview stage. Let them know what to expect as you work through each step of the selection process.

Communicate Quickly

If you know an applicant has been disqualified, then reach out to them in a timely manner to let them know they will not be moving forward in the process. Do not wait until the job ad has been taken down to inform all applicants of their status in the process. This unnecessarily keeps candidates in limbo for a long period of time

Like I said earlier – email notifications can be time consuming – so to move things along more quickly, consider using an applicant tracking system. This software will push out automated emails to your applicants depending on their status. For example, you had 50 applicants for an open position. You chose 25 of them to move forward. The lucky 25 can be automatically informed through customized emails as soon as their hiring status is updated in the system, which can include information about next steps, when to expect another interview, work samples they need to submit, etc. The unlucky 25 can also receive their own email corresponding to their updated status, which helps them continue their job search elsewhere without losing sleep over your open position.

Give Feedback

When communicating with candidates that they didn’t get the job, consider offering feedback that is polite and constructive. For example, use more specifics as to why they didn’t get the position, such as “we decided to go with a candidate with more experience” or “we think you have a great skill set but we are really looking for someone with more experience in XYZ.” Applicants will appreciate knowing why they weren’t chosen, so they know whether they need to improve in certain areas.

Additionally, you may have passed on a well-qualified candidate not because of a lack of skills – but because of a lack of fit. Consider sending this type of candidate another appropriate job opening in a different department or setting a reminder to reach out to these individuals in the future. Redirecting candidates may seem like a lot of extra work, but the extra time to connect them to where they may be a better fit benefits both your company and the applicant.

It is in the interest of organizations and job candidates alike to treat applicants in a courteous and professional way. By doing this, companies will enable candidates to but in better performances at interviews as well as give candidates a favorable impression of its own professionalism and integrity – a factor that can prove favorable in the future.

What has been your experience with hiring processes? What do you wish companies would do differently to make the process less stressful?