Jessica Miller-Merrell | , ,| By
Job Candidates, Employment Offers, Retention Strategies and Letters of Rejection
Earlier this week, a good friend of mine interviewed for an HR Director position for a multi-location long-term health care business. It was Tammy’s second job interview, and when I talked to her she felt positive about her chances of employment. She even inquired confidently about next steps and the time line for the decision making process. The management team assured her that they were still in the beginning of the final decision making process with no concrete decision deadline.
And yet they weren’t completely honest.
The Ultimate Interview Rejection Letter
Less than twenty-four hours later, Tammy walked to her mailbox and was surprised to receive a standard form letter of rejection addressed to her from said company. And while I applaud the company for getting back to her after the interview at all since 50% of companies admittedly don’t engage candidates in any form, the rejection latter was a slap in the face.
I call tactics like these candidate anti-engagement strategies. These are seen as a snub in the face of the candidatewho are treated as second class citizens who are the junk mail of the employment and applicant tracking world. Companies are conflicted and uncomfortable to deliver bad news to job applicants, so instead they employ a common managerial tactic — avoidance, aloofness, and unavailability. You know what I mean — ring twice and go to voice mai. Or, as in Tammy’s case, send the standard employment rejection letter. And it’s treatment like this that leads candidates to fill the grapevine with candidate experiences that are angry, bitter, and hurt. This anti-engagement strategy leaves the candidate with one too many unanswered questions and lots of material to vent to other future candidates
Poor retention strategies are similar to that sales person who I contact asking them for a quote on marketing materials. We chat for a few minutes, promise to return my calls, and I never hear from them again. Except I’m the one paying the marketing company and the job candidates are the ones receiving payment. It’s like dropping off my dry cleaning never to pick it up.
Reject Qualified Employment Candidates with Continued Engagement, Not Cold Rejection
Tammy is more than qualified to be the senior human resource position at the company in question. Often times in situations like this where there are multiple candidates who meet the minimum qualifications, it comes down to subjectives like culture fit, personality, and gut feelings. So why do these intangibles give us an excuse to treat our remaining employment candidates like second class citizens?
Companies should be building relationships with their employment candidates regardless of their status. It’s piss poor customer service, an anti-engagement strategy that eventually will lead to a company with egg on their face.
For every candidate, hired or not, companies should always:
- Send an email at minimum. Failing to do so is like going on a first date and then never calling back. It’s rude and ridiculous.
- Provide your candidates job search resources. Want to build a community that supports you even if they don’t land the job? Provide them with resources like a job seeker toolkit or a best practices check list. (See my Job Search Jump Start Guide for an example.)
- Keep your promises. If you promise to follow up, then do it. It could be in the form of an automated email sent directly from your ATS or a quick phone call. The things that we avoid are often the most important.
- Treat your job candidates like human beings. Because they are and they deserve to be treated as such. Showing some basic human decency shouldn’t be the minimum expectation. Imagine how impressive you’d look in the eyes of the candidateeven as they read your letter of rejection. Rockstar company. . . with very little effort.
If you are a corporate recruiter, hiring manager, or human resource professional, I know what you are saying, “Jessica, I get 500 applications for one single job. I don’t possibly have time.” And to you I call bullshit. Providing your candidates an engaging experience doesn’t to be time consuming. It is in fact just good business.
It’s Not Employee Retention, it’s Good Will Retention; Avoid the Venting
With the economy improving good candidates will once again be in short supply. Older workers are counting the days and months till their retirement, but the younger workforce are like elephants — they never forget. Treating your candidates like second class citizens may not hurt you today, but it will in the future, and with sites like Glassdoor, JobVent, and the SimplyHired Forum, it’s really only a matter of time.
Never heard of Glassdoor, JobVent, or Simply Hired? Here are a list of more employment venting sites to get you started. Want to know more about candidate engagement? Kevin Wheeler (@kwheeler) has a great article from 2008 on ERE.
Think I’m full of crap or maybe you agree with me? I encourage you to leave a comment below.