How to treat job applicants (and build your brand)!

Ange Connor

I talk to a lot of job seekers and in all my time in recruitment, their biggest frustration / complaint has never changed. I am told multiple times a day, the biggest, most frustrating issue of their job search is the lack of communication and feedback they receive when applying for a job. In this day and age, with the technology that we have access to, it blows me away that companies are still not treating applicants with the respect and level of communication they deserve. If you’re an employer reading this blog and wondering what the big deal is, as long as you fill the position in the end who cares about the other applicants, this is why:

A senior candidate applied for and had an interview with a large insurance company. After the interview they never got back to him with any feedback at all and wouldn’t return his calls. He ended up cancelling the 8 insurance policies he had with the company. Not because he didn’t get the job but because of their lack of professionalism and respect for him and the time and effort he put into applying for and attending the job interview. Can your business really afford to damage its brand? And with social media, it’s so easy to share bad experiences.

Here are my top tips on how to positively treat job applicants:

Acknowledge every application

If you are receiving applications via email, it’s very simple to hit reply and acknowledge that you have received the application. If you’re accepting applications via other methods commit the time to sending an email, posting a letter or even sending a text message. It will give the applicant peace of mind that their application has been received. Make sure you acknowledge the application in a timely manner.

Notify all unsuccessful applicants

Every applicant who has taken the time to submit an application deserves to be notified that they have been unsuccessful. The applicant then won’t be left wondering. Don’t waste your time and money putting an ad in the local paper advising the position has been filled, a personal email will be a much better investment of your time and money.

Provide feedback to interviewed applicants

Any candidate who has made the effort to attend an interview, deserves a phone call to advise that they have been unsuccessful and ideally you should provide them with feedback. If you’ve conducted a thorough and appropriate interview where you have gathered evidence, providing feedback should not be hard or complicated. This phone call should also be made in a timely manner. Sending an email is the easy way out and will make you look like a coward.

Advise of delays or changes in circumstances

If for some reason your recruitment process has been delayed, the position has been withdrawn, the requirements of the position have changed due to business changes etc. you need to communicate this with the applicants. A quick email to let them know the process has been delayed and an indication of when they can expect to hear from you will do wonders for your reputation and brand. Be open and honest about the situation if the position has been withdrawn or if it has changed, notify applicants of the change and if they are still interested in the vacancy, let them know how to express their interest or re-apply if need be.

If this all sounds like too much time and effort, think about the cost to your business and brand if you provide a poor applicant experience. By implementing these simple applicant communication steps into your next recruitment process you’ll ensure you stand out from the crowd and are remembered for all the right reasons even if the applicant didn’t get the job.

Now I’d love to hear about your experiences. What do you do to keep the communication lines open during the recruitment process? Or maybe you’ve learnt the hard way and received some negative feedback because of poor applicant communication.

Got questions? If you have some questions or would like advice on how to apply these steps in to your next recruitment process you can contact us today for further info.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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  • I sincerely hope that employers read this post. Of the 20+ jobs I have applied for in the past month or so, only two have even bothered to acknowledge receipt of my application, let alone advise that I’ve been unsuccessful. Often I’ve put in 1-2 hours preparing a covering letter, answering key selection criteria and personalising my resume. Job hunting at the moment is hard enough. The absence of even an acknowledgement that my application has been received and is perhaps being looked at is not only rude, but thoroughly demoralising. A little courtesy from prospective employers would go a long way . Thank you for pointing this out to the employers. Regards. Sandy Jennings.

    • Hi Sandy, Thanks for sharing your experiences. I agree that a lot of time goes in to applying for a position and to not even receive an acknowledgement from the prospective employer is unacceptable. If I was the job seeker in that instance it would indicate to me that the company was probably not a good fit for me to work in anyway. Best of luck with your job search. Ange

  • Many thanks Ange. Yes, you are probably right – if a company treats potential employees in this off-hand manner, I can’t help but wonder how they treat the people they do employ! Regards. Sandy


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