HR Managers: What do applicants want from you?

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“What do they want from me?” can be heard hollered in frustration and bewilderment from every recruitment agency desk, HR office and hiring managers cubicle. 

And when we tell you that 83% of applicants will have their buying decisions about your company’s products influenced by the treatment they receive during the recruitment process (according to The Great Big Recruitment Industry Survey), and 47% state that it will SIGNIFICANTLY influence their buying decisions, then it’s a question that warrants an answer.

So, what do they want from you?  What can you do to improve the recruitment experience of your applicants? What can you do to improve your employer brand to the point where it positively impacts the brand of your products? Luckily our recent research has some answers.

The bad bit of our research is that most companies have got it wrong.  Most (56%) have recruitment value chains that negatively impact their brand. 

The good bit, and this is a really good bit, is that our research also tells us that it is painfully simple to dazzle, impress and blow your competitors out of the water. Want to know how?

Ready?  Are you sitting down? (Drum roll please). Here it is… Get back to people.  That’s it! Told you it was simple.  A staggering 70% said that they were impressed by “swift Feedback” 59% went on to say that they were impressed by “Thorough feedback, even if it’s bad feedback” and 51% said they were impressed by “Closure”.  See a trend? 

So, it’s simple.  But I didn’t say it was easy. 

All you have to do is give personalized feedback to every applicant and make sure that every person in your recruitment value chain (recruitment agencies, line managers, internal recruiters) gets back to every applicant with the same level of care and swiftness as you do.  Like I said, simple but not easy.

I’m not talking here about applicants who have got through to interview stage or further.  I’m assuming that if you have interviewed someone then you would do them the courtesy of a phone call to reject them (although our research alarmingly shows that quite a few recruiters and organisations don’t). If not then stop reading here, there’s nothing I can do for you, you’re a lost cause, sorry.

But, let’s assume that you get back to people you’ve interviewed, what about those applicants who didn’t get a look in?  Those ones who didn’t meet the grade at the entry point to your applicant funnel?  Do you send them a bland automated email once the role is closed?  Do you send them an auto email when they apply telling them you’ll get back to them if they’re shortlisted?  Our research shows that these measures are viewed as pretty much the same as no response.

The results from our survey show that for a rejection to be classed as “exceptional” it needs to have the following 4 components:

  1. It needs to address them by name so they know its personalised
  2. It needs to give closure and not leave things hanging
  3. It needs to give them a specific reason for their rejection other than the fact that the job has been closed
  4. It needs to not read like an automated email so they feel like they have been treated like a human.

So how do you give people a more personal response?  Obviously you can’t call everyone who applied.  But it is possible to give them a reason why they’ve been rejected.

It’s a simple thing to build a system that lets you choose from 5 – 10 standard reasons for rejection so that every applicant gets a specific reason they weren’t successful.

It’s a simple thing to demand that your recruitment agency rejects every candidate (have you ever been a ‘mystery shopper’ through your own recruitment process?)

It’s a simple thing to demand that everyone within your organization gives the same level of response.

All of the above is relatively simple. It’s not, however, easy. But when your organization realizes that responding to every applicant is not an administrative burden, it is a marketing opportunity, then it becomes something worth investing in.

Imagine if a traditional sales channel treated potential customers with the same disdain that most recruitment processes treat applicants?  If customer enquiries and warm leads were ignored or sent bland, “we may or may not get back to you” emails? If thousands of existing or potential customers (or people who will work within related corporate customers if you are a B2B business) were actively encouraged to talk to your competitors?  If organisations let their downstream resellers represent their brand with no oversight or control?  Well, The Great Big Recruitment Industry Survey tells us that this is literally what is happening in the vast majority of cases.  And for 83% of people, this is influencing their buying decisions.

The recruitment process needs to be considered as a marketing channel, recruitment agencies are marketing partners, the applicant experience is a potential-customer experience.  And like any marketing channel it can be made amazing, you can upsell, you can create leads and future business.  All you have to do is care about applicants the same way you care about other potential customers. 

The important point is that 83% of the people who apply to roles with your business can walk away with either a positive or a negative view of your company’s brand.  Its within your power to decide which of those it is.  To ensure it’s the former, all you have to do is make sure that everyone gets a good quality response. That’s it.  Simple.

Look at this data, and much more, for yourself by downloading the survey here

If you’d like some ideas on how to set up systems to give good quality responses to everyone without any added workload then let us know by dropping us an email.  We’d be happy to share some of the things we’ve seen work.

We like to think we’re one of the 13%, are you?


Want to get involved?  Take the survey here.