Job candidates, like customers, expect a certain level of service and courtesy when they engage with a company. Yet most companies aren’t even throwing applicants a bone — and that’s not going over well with their talent pool.
A recent study from Future Workplace and CareerArc found nearly 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and of those 72 percent shared that experience on an employer review site, social networking site or with colleagues and friends. This trend should be concerning to a lot of recruiters.
When candidates post negative reviews for the world to see, it can potentially poison the talent pool, said Dan Schawbel, Future Workplace research director. Today’s job seekers are savvy researchers, reviewing an average of 16 resources when searching for a job, according to CareerBuilder’s 2016 State of Recruitment study. Whether they hear negative reviews from a colleague or read them on Linked In or Glassdoor, it can deter them from applying for a position that may otherwise be a great fit. “Those review can shut off a lot of people who could be good employees,” Schwabel said.
Recruiters may also be surprised to hear what constitutes a negative experience, says Kirsten Davidson, head of employer brand for Glassdoor Inc., the employer review site. It isn’t caused by aggressive interview tactics, or frustrating background check processes. “Most negative reviews come from people who just never heard back,” she said.
And it happens far too often. A whopping 65 percent of job seekers in the Future Workplace survey said they never or rarely receive notice from employers when they submit applications. Similarly, in CareerBuilder’s report job seekers said their biggest frustration is when employers don’t respond to them. “Candidates invest a lot of time preparing an application, yet they feel like the company is investing nothing in response,” Schawbel said. “That sends a bad message about the company.”
Start With a ‘Thank You’
So how do recruiters respond? With many job postings receiving hundreds of applications, there isn’t time for recruiters to send a personal thank you note to everyone who applied. But unless companies have a system in place to at least acknowledge these candidates, employers may be damaging their reputation every time they post an opening.
Even Glassdoor, the company that gives employees a platform to review current and future employers, has struggled to get this one right. A few years ago the site recognized that most of the negative reviews it received were because candidates got no response to their applications.
In response, the company created a checklist of ways to improve the candidate experience, which includes sending some level of response to every candidate who applies. “It was important to find a process that we could scale,” Davidson said. Applicants who are clearly unqualified for the role receive an automated email thanking them for applying and letting them know they are not a good fit but to please stay in touch, while candidates who participate in further screenings and interviews receive more personalized notes with feedback on where they are in the application process and/or why they aren’t right for the job. Since implementing this response process, Glassdoor now has a 73 percent positive interview experience rating compared with the 54 percent average across the entire site.
Taking the time to respond to candidates isn’t just polite; it’s good for the company’s overall image as well, said Robin Richards, CEO of CareerArc. “When you treat candidates well they become net promoters of the brand.” That’s marketing-speak for ‘measuring the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships.’ When you consider how many people apply for a given job, building loyalty through something as simple as a thank you email can be a powerful marketing tool, he said.
Companies can also use candidate reviews as a way to assess their recruiting process and identify areas that need improvement. And when negative reviews arise, Davidson said she encourages recruiters to respond in a positive and nonconfrontational way. “When you say you are sorry and share what you are doing to improve the process, it can turn a negative experience into a neutral one,” she said. “It also sends a message to the broader talent community that you care about them.” Glassdoor research shows that 62 percent of employees say their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review.
Sending thank you notes to unqualified candidates may seem like an added burden in an already time-consuming job, but taking time to acknowledge people who expressed an interest in working for your company just makes good business sense, Richards said. “In a high-tech, high-volume world, a little courtesy makes people feel valued, and that can have a big positive impact on your brand.”