When I made my first foray into the big bad job market, I had some pretty crummy experiences. Sending out my resume, leaving a follow-up phone message and then getting in response: nothing, nada, zip. Not even the courtesy of a cursory “No, thanks.” Or being interviewed by an underling with sadistic impulses who asked me rote questions and then barely paid attention to my answers. I came away from those experiences and others equally demeaning with a real respect for the companies that treated me like a serious adult with something to offer, even if my talents weren’t a good match for their needs. Now to present day after being in the recruiting industry for many years. Guess what?
Too many organizations and leaders still don’t get it: the way you treat your job seeking candidates matters in your recruiting process.
A lot. It’s a reflection of who you are as a company and a leader. It reveals a great deal about how you run your other processes. It’s an opportunity to enhance your brand in the world of HR and beyond. In fact, it’s so important there’s an award – the Candidate Experience Award – given out by the Talent Board, a non-profit dedicated to improving the candidate experience. 2012 winners include such heavy hitters as Intel, Intuit, Mayo Clinic , Adidas, Deloitte, Hyatt and Stryker.
What is the winning recruiting formula these companies and leaders use?
1) First and last: Respect: C’mon, this is a no-brainer. You’re dealing with people’s lives here. Treat each and every person with basic human courtesy and dignity. Explain the process to them. Be direct and honest.
2) Keep your word: Once you’ve explained the process, stick with it every step of the way. Be consistent. Give the candidate a way to contact you for any follow-ups or updates. Think of the candidate as a partner in the process, and a potential star in your organization.
3) End on a grace note: This particularly applies to candidates who are not hired. You want them to walk away with their dignity intact, understanding why they weren’t hired. Aside from just plain being the right thing to do, this bears fruit in many ways. These people spread the word about what a top-flight operation you are. They refer talented friends and colleagues. Your brand is bolstered. First and last impressions are lasting for job seekers.
4) Design your process to fit your needs: There are a lot of fancy recruiting and hiring software, tests and consultants out there. Many of them are well worth the money. But don’t lose sight of your goal: finding talent that fits your unique needs. If your process is designed correctly you’ll see very few truly unqualified candidates. This will enable you to treat those you do see with all the diligence and respect they deserve.
Implementing a winning candidate experience is an opportunity to strengthen your workplace culture. It dramatically ups the odds of making stellar hires. These hires come into the organization already “branded” with a positive impression, ready to hit the ground running and deliver amazing performance. They tell their friends, contacts and former colleagues. Word goes out on social media: this is a great company. What goes around comes around. Bring it all home with a candidate experience you’re proud to be part of.
A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 6/02/2013