When the labor market is weak and job-seekers are desperate for work, overwhelmed recruiters sometimes default to treating applicants like cattle – an undifferentiated mass of mostly unqualified individuals firing off resumes wherever they can.
- But an unhappy job applicant is unlikely to become a happy customer of your company’s goods or services, says Gerry Crispin, co-founder of human-resources consulting firm CareerXroads and one of the forces behind the Talent Board, a group of HR experts that last year created the Candidate Experience Awards — complete with a glitzy Las Vegas awards ceremony–to recognize employers who make extra efforts to communicate with job-seekers. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, the Talent Board came up with a metric to help companies determine the real dollar value of an angry, alienated applicant. That effect multiplies as applicants Tweet, post to Facebook and otherwise communicate their frustrations with a company to their friends and families, who likewise develop unhappy associations with that brand.
- How to avoid paying that price? At a conference for recruiters held in New York last week by Universum, an employer-branding firm , Crispin offered six rules for ensuring that job applicants, whether they’re hired or not, come away with positive impression of your company. After all, who knows? The person who’s rejected today might just be a regular shopper or even the perfect candidate for tomorrow’s job.
- Know My Value
“The candidate experience is measurable and it’s our job to measure what that value is,” says Mr. Crispin. That means considering metrics such as retention rates (a new hire is more likely to leave if he or she doesn’t feel like the job or company culture matches what recruiters or hiring managers described) and the sales impact of losing that person as a customer if they walk away from the experience feeling slighted or ignored.
- Walk in My Shoes
Recruiters should always test out their company’s application process, says Mr. Crispin, submitting their own resumes – or hiring a mystery shopper to go through the application process from start to finish – to see where roadblocks and frustrations lie. According to a 2011 CareerXroads survey, only 53% of recruiters have sent a resume down the chute to apply for jobs they’re recruiting for and just 7% have attempted to mystery-shop their company’s entire recruiting process.
- Hear Me Now
Employers should ask candidates for feedback and listen to the responses. For example, some companies ask job-seekers to fill out a survey at the end of the application process. Crispin noted that one company tells applicants on the career website that they’ll get a response within 20 days. Then, after 20 days have passed, the company emails the applicant to ask if he or she did indeed hear back from a recruiter, even if only to communicate a rejection. That kind of follow-up, says Crispin, is critical to treating candidates with respect.
- Speak Clearly
Make sure your message to job-seekers is simple and clear, and that the method of communication is tailored to the audience. That might mean using social media, mobile applications, career websites, blogs or brochures, depending on whom you’re trying to recruit. CareerXroads found that only 47 of Fortune 500 companies have mobile-enabled career websites. Those that don’t, says Crispin, might be missing the very candidates they’re hoping to attract.
- Answer Truthfully
Often job seekers simply want reliable information to guide their searches, so be as transparent as possible. For example, Crispin pointed out, Wells Fargo’s career site offers minimum and midpoint salaries for its job listings. TiVo’s site provides a pie chart showing where the company finds its hires; the chart indicates that employee referrals drive nearly half of hires. Potential applicants know that blindly submitting a resume probably won’t land them a job, so they should find someone in the company to recommend them. The same rule applies in direct communications. When candidates ask questions –be it via Twitter, in a live chat with recruiters, or in an interview – recruiters should be forthcoming and honest when answering such questions as “why did the last person in this job leave?” or “how high is turnover here?”
- Deliver What you Promise
If you tell candidates on your website they can fill out the online job application in two minutes, make sure it doesn’t actually take 20 minutes. If you promise a response from a recruiter within a week, make sure it happens. In short, don’t promise candidates what you do not intend to deliver.