How to Use Rejection Letters to Improve Candidate Experience, Protect Your Reputation, and Build Good Will
If you are or have ever been responsible for hiring, you have probably asked yourself: “how do we attract the best people?” There are many answers that must be considered, however one that is often overlooked is how you handle rejection. Rejection of candidates, that is. A recent survey by Careerealism found that 40% of people who do not hear back from a company will not apply to that company again. Ever.
So, how exactly can being better about rejecting someone help you attract more candidates in the future? It’s all about perception. Keeping candidates informed of when they are out of consideration helps to improve candidate experience, protect your company’s reputation in the marketplace, and create good will.
Improved Candidate Experience
So many companies I talk to on a daily basis cite the need for a high quality applicant/candidate experience. The problem is that most of the companies are thinking too small. They are ending their idea of applicant experience when the application is submitted, leaving the rest in the hands of HR or a hiring manager. From an applicant perspective, an application is just the beginning. They are waiting to hear if they get selected for interview, if they need to provide more information, or if someone else has been selected. All too often, though, all the applicant hears is crickets.
Taking the time to let someone know that they have not been selected is enough to bring closure for an applicant. They are not waiting for the phone to ring or an e-mail to set up an interview. They can move on with their job search. The rejection letter can be short and to the point, but should be polite, thank the person for their interest, and encourage them to apply in the future. There are tools that make improving the candidate experience easier than ever, such as templates and sending bulk e-mails.
Protecting Your Company’s Reputation
It does not matter what type of job a candidate is applying for, one thing will always remain true: active job seekers talk to passive job seekers and vice versa. If an applicant never hears back from a company after applying to a job, you can almost bet that someone will hear about it…and it probably won’t be positive. Now think about how many applications certain jobs get and how a bad experience can go viral in no time. With the average job posting getting hundreds of applicants, there is the potential for to frustrate a lot of people by never responding. This is particularly troubling if your applicant pool is limited by geography or a tough skill set.
Think about it in this way (because this is how job seekers think): You are looking for a job and consult with some of your network on where to apply. For ABC Co., you hear from several people that they have applied to jobs and have never heard anything back and that they never contact applicants. For XYZ Co., a couple of people mention that they have applied there and that while they didn’t get the job, they received a nice follow-up letter letting them know that someone else was hired and they would absolutely be considered on future applications. You decide to apply to XYZ Co.
So, what happened for the two companies in this example? One had a poor reputation in the marketplace, which led to a negative impact on their applicant flow and the other attracted talent through rejection. This is obviously an exaggerated example, but the point is the active and passive job seekers talk about your company and you want those conversations to always be positive.
Creating Good Will
This idea simply piggy backs on the two above, but it is worth pointing out. When you improve the overall applicant experience and have a good reputation in the marketplace, you are going to inherently build good will. Meaning that when interactions with your company are positive, even in the face of rejection, you are increasing the likelihood that a quality candidate will apply again or perhaps refer someone more qualified than themselves for that tough to fill role on your desk.
Overall, when all of three these things are working well, you are going to increase the amount of qualified applicants that you are receiving. You will be creating a place that people want to work because the interactions with your company will be ones that put it in a good light. More importantly, you can directly impact these things with minimal change and adding a step that is often overlooked by recruiters and hiring manager…the rejection letter. Who knew, rejection can lead to attraction after all.
Andy Adams is an Enterprise Account Executive with CareerPlug.