Is Your Recruiting Process Damaging Your Brand?

In this time of slow job growth, many excellent people, either unemployed or unhappily employed, are checking job boards and sending out inquiries and resumes. It is a great time for forward-looking companies to recruit for valuable professionals and workers. But what messages are these companies sending with their recruiting process?

What are the typical responses after applying to a posted job?

After applying to a posted job, here are the typical responses seen by most applicants, in approximate order of frequency:

  1. No response whatsoever (by far the most common case).

Translation to applicant: Your credentials are laughable and we will not dignify your pathetic effort even with a simple acknowledgement of receipt.

  1. (Autoresponse) Thank you for your application. We will review it and get back to you if we see a fit.

Translation to applicant: Your resume just went into a pile on the recruiters desk. It will probably not be looked at, but the pile itself justifies the recruiters job.

  1. (Autoresponse) Thanks for your application. Due to the high volume of applicants, we can only respond to you if we find that you are a good match for the job.

Translation to applicant: Don’t call us, and we certainly will not call you. We are understaffed and swamped by so many insignificant resumes.

  1. Thank you for your application.  Your credentials do not quite fit the job, but we will keep it on file in case something with a closer fit comes up.

Translation to applicant: We knew who we were going to hire, but had to post the job anyhow by company rules. We never looked at your resume, which will go into a file cabinet and never be seen again.

  1. Thanks for your application.  Your resume is interesting, but we are looking for someone with more direct and recent experience with our type of product.

Translation to applicant: You are too old, or have been unemployed too long.

  1. Thanks for your application for the job of Senior Director of _____.  Your credentials are impressive but we are actually looking for someone more technical and hands-on.

Translation to applicant: The job has a big sounding title, but actually we want to hire an immigrant who we can overwork for a low salary.

When you post a job, it is a formal solicitation to qualified people to spend some of their valuable time crafting a resume and cover letter to your company, and possibly to go through some bureaucratic and time-consuming application process.  All of these people are potential employees, stockholders, customers, suppliers or competitors.  Are any of the messages above the ones you want to send?

Disgruntled applicants can be dangerous to your brand. Now, with the explosion of social networking, it is very easy for unhappy people to amplify their bad experience and feelings virally.

Conversely, you can use your recruiting process to improve your reputation and brand. Here is a process we suggest:

  • Minimize the application process – online: name, email, phone number, upload resume and cover letter. That’s all.
  • Respond to every application with a personal letter from a real person. Here is a sample:

“Thanks very much for your application. We appreciate your interest in our company and will review your resume within 2 weeks [or other time frame].  I will contact you about the outcome within that time. Sincerely [recruiter].  If you don’t hear from us by then, please feel free to email me at _____”

  • Follow up in the time you promised with a courteous and professional letter. Sample (rejection):

“We reviewed you resume carefully.  You have some excellent strengths, but we did find some other candidates who were a better fit for this particular job. Please check our job postings frequently and apply again if you see another job in which you are interested and qualified.  If so, feel free to email your application directly to me and I will make sure it gets to the right person.”

  • Follow up later to each applicant (successful or not) with a brief survey: How would they rate the application/recruiting process and what could you do to improve it?

These simple steps will assure that every applicant respects your company and would be happy to do any kind of business with you in the future.