Transforming Rejection into Friendship Through Candidate Experience

Rejection is hard. Rejection is why so many people refuse to speak in public and why people don’t choose sales as a profession. Rejection is why looking for a job can be so excruciating and is one of the big reasons why so many people stay in the wrong job for so long.

If you’re an empathetic person, you also find it hard to reject others. But, if you make hiring decisions, by definition you reject job candidates, and that can be hard on your psyche. Rejecting candidates improperly can also hurt your professional reputation and tarnish your company’s brand.

Using Rejection to Become Friends Through Candidate Experience

Turning Candidates into Friends

Social platforms have broadened the definition of “friends” forever. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good practice to perceive job candidates as potential friends rather than potential time-wasters.

Mobile, cloud and social technologies enable us to keep track of more-and-more individuals, but regardless of the vintage, technology can only take you so far.

You actually have to know and care about the people you’re tracking to the extent they perceive your understanding and concern as authentic. In addition to being the right thing to do, when you connect below the surface, there’s a better chance candidates will say good things about you and your company, even when you don’t hire them.

Social Software

Today there are great software platforms that extend your ability to relate more deeply with more people and leverage what most all of us have experienced with social media into a process of candidate community building.

This transformation is crucial to your professional reputation, because it facilitates online relationships within the community from which you will hire in the future.

It’s also critical from the hiring company’s perspective, because employers can no longer afford to “catch-and-release” job candidates in non-ethical ways without poisoning their brand and increasing their hiring costs.

Authentic Communication

Chances are good that from a technology perspective, none of this is news to you. But, no matter how current some people are on available technology, many still struggle with the patience required for authentic communication.

No matter how hyper or automated the hiring process becomes, you can communicate in personable ways that project uncommon corporate empathy.

Even simple subject lines in rejection messages can focus on how much you appreciate the candidate’s efforts and your intention to stay in touch, rather than bluntly announcing their demise.

The lead paragraph of the message can explain that you’re constantly hiring in a fluid situation even if the current opportunity isn’t quite a fit. An indeterminate postponement is more encouraging than a flat rejection if the candidate has any chance in the future. If there is a total misfire, the time should be taken to explain why, because they might not be a total misfire in the future.

Corporate Compassion

In many circles the words “corporate” and “compassion” don’t go together. But, you know compassion is the secret sauce of all successful HR practitioners.

When you move too fast and skip steps with candidates, you’re distributing negative marketing messages out into the marketplace. If your company operates in a vertical market rather than promoting a consumer brand, the candidate community is even smaller and more connected, and the missteps are more costly.

You’re probably more empathetic than the general population or you wouldn’t be working in the HR profession in the first place. But, you’re also probably busier than most people, too. That’s why you have to think about intangible-value assets like empathy and compassion and the impressions you make on job candidates when looking at your overall candidate experience strategies.

Today you have tools to help you make friends with people who you might not hire today, but who you might easily hire in the future, and who will most certainly be chatting with the people you do hire.

So, not only is relating more compassionately to rejected candidates the right thing to do, in today’s socially connected talent community, compassionate behavior is critical to long-term corporate success.

How does your company use rejection in your candidate experience strategies? 

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Scott Kinnaird

Scott Kinnaird is Director of Sales for Mercury Network. He has been a technical recruiter, staffing company founder, and recruiting division president for a publicly traded IT consulting firm. He loves to write and talk about applying uncommon corporate empathy to key segments of the talent lifecycle to increase employee engagement and corporate profits. Connect with Scott.

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