Remember: Job applicants are potential customers too

You work hard to build your company’s brand and reputation. You wouldn’t think of putting them in jeopardy by giving customers poor service or putting out low quality products or services.

line of applicants

But how much care do you take to treat job applicants respectfully? Failure to do so can hurt your company.

A recent study by CareerBuilder tracked the experiences and opinions of more than 800,000 job applicants in a variety of industries. It reported that 44 percent of applicants who didn’t hear back from companies they applied to have a worse opinion of those companies.

In another study, 32 percent of job applicants said they were less likely to buy a product from a company that did not respond to their application. Yet another study found 78 percent of job applicants said they would talk to friends and family about a bad experience with a potential employer, and 17 percent said they would post it on social media.

One of the consequences of social media is that the number of people a disgruntled individual can reach has grown exponentially. Blogs have popped up for the express purpose of “outing” companies that treat job applicants poorly.

The Challenge

For a while it looked like computers and the Internet were going to be the saviors that made recruiters’ and HR managers’ jobs easier. You could reach more potential applicants more quickly and easily, automate the submission of resumes and applications, and not have to deal with a paper chase.

But the reality is that companies are now deluged by thousands of applicants, many of whom are unqualified. Staff members simply don’t have time for high-touch means of responding to so many applications.

The result has been what some job seekers call “the resume black hole” – you submit resume after resume and don’t hear anything back. Even more upsetting is going for interviews and not getting a response.

Potential Solutions

Most companies already use an applicant tracking system to manage job applications online. It only makes sense to enhance that system to also set applicant notification time frames, send acknowledgements and updates, and even make suggestions for future job openings applicants might be qualified for.

Job applicants at different stages of the application process warrant different levels of communication. An applicant who clearly does not possess the qualifications specified in the job listing might get only an automated email reply politely informing them of their status. Applicants who are being considered and further screened should get a more detailed email, though it might still be automated.

Once an applicant has been interviewed, even if only briefly by telephone, they ought to receive at least a personalized email, if not a call, to say they were not selected and why.

Finalists who have gone through several interviews or other screening steps and are not selected deserve a personal phone call and explanation of the decision.

Finally, as a recruiter, hiring manager or HR manager, try to remember what it was like being on the other side of the application process.

Looking for work, not knowing where you stand in the application process or why you were passed over in the final stages, can be frustrating and discouraging.

People deserve the dignity of being kept politely informed. Treating job applicants with dignity will give them a better impression of your company, even if they don’t get the job they wanted.