A lot of companies are trying to move away from departmental silos, preferring cross-functional teams and open communication among divisions. It’s a good idea for the left hand to always know what the right hand is doing, and vice versa.
But what if the left hand is unwittingly sabotaging the right hand?
This can be seen time and time again when it comes to a company’s hiring practices. A company will put out an ad, and will treat applicants like annoying inconveniences. Has your HR department ever done any of these things:
- Expected an applicant to drop everything and come in for an interview at a moment’s notice?
- Asked applicants to reschedule, even though you know they currently have a job?
- Not replied to an application, even with an auto-respond email?
- Told an interviewee you’d get back to them and then…didn’t?
- Said you’d contact people in a few days, but took a week or more?
- Been late for an interview or discussed work issues with your colleague while the interviewee was sitting there in the room, waiting for a question?
After the interview process is over, the person might be out of sight and out of mind for the interviewer, but don’t think for a second that they’re going quietly.
Money Talks, But So Do People
A few years ago, Virgin Media did something smart. They surveyed the people who didn’t get jobs with them. What they found out was alarming: 18% of the applicants were existing Virgin customers. And as the result of a negative recruitment experience, a third of those applicants switched to a Virgin competitor.
Virgin’s experience highlights how when it comes to the real world, there are no silos. Your applicants may also be customers. So are their friends and families. And your brand as an employer can and will affect your brand as a company, especially in the eyes of people who are both applicant and customer.
So those applicants who were neglected, ignored, treated rudely? No, they’re not going quietly. They’re pulling their business from you. And they’re telling their friends and family how unprofessionally they were treated, souring their opinion of your overall brand.
We already know that a bad employer brand can cost you dearly when it comes to additional wages, training, loss of talent pool, and turnover. And yet, few companies put the pieces together and ask how their employer branding might be helping or hurting their sales efforts.
How to Turn it Around
The best way to know what you should be doing? Find out what you’re doing wrong. Virgin was smart to survey rejected applicants, and it’s something you should be doing as well, to find out the weaknesses and snags in your recruiting process.
From there, it’s a matter of finding ways to make sure that each and every applicant is treated with respect and consideration throughout the process. It sounds basic, but it needs to be a fundamental part of every step of the hiring cycle.
Not being hired for a job you want can sting. But if you leave applicants with a good flavor in their mouths after the whole process, you’re improving the odds of at least keeping them — and their social circle — as customers.