A common complaint from job seekers is that they never hear back from the employers they submit applications to. It’s as if their resumes go zipping into thin air and then - *poof* - they disappear forever. Applying for jobs is a lot of work. So why don’t more employers take the time to acknowledge candidates? It’s at the very least a professional courtesy, but the way candidates are treated can also speak volumes about the employer brand.
There are extenuating circumstances that could make it harder to respond to every request. For example, there may be limited resources and time to send out frequent updates to candidates. If the company is small to midsize, there may only be one or two people managing all the recruitment processes. Or the job opening itself could be cancelled or postponed due to budgets or reorganization. The company may decide to promote from within instead of hiring an outside candidate. But in most cases, communication with your candidates is paramount - even if it's an inconvenience.
Why just stop communicating with candidates completely?
In many blog and magazine articles, a lot of the time, the blame is placed on candidates themselves. Recruiters give reasons why they ‘ghosted’ candidates, such as:
- The candidate’s skills were not a good enough match
- The candidate doesn’t have enough work experience
- The candidate has too much work experience/is overqualified
- The candidate has an unstable work history
- The candidate doesn’t seem suitable for the corporate culture
- The candidate didn’t include a cover letter with the resume
- The candidate graduated from an online college
- The interview was awkward or didn’t go perfectly
- The candidate keeps calling to ask about the status
Oh and there are countless other reasons given, all to deflect that employers are not accountable to candidates in the least. If this sounds a bit harsh, it is, but it’s also the truth. Many times, recruiters just don’t take the time nor do they care. They are focused on sourcing for the next job order. Check out this article from Tim Sackett on the issue - it happens all the time.
What effect does this have on candidate experience?
Nearly every one of us has been on the candidate side and has felt the sting of rejection. The comes the self-doubt. The anger about not hearing back from an employer after we’ve jumped through all the right hoops and listened to all the career experts. It makes for a very negative candidate experience.
Employers need to take heed. The labour pool isn't bottomless, and the best talent is already being stalked by your competitors. Candidates know this and they are in the driver seat presently.
What candidates want
Unless the building is burning down, there is no excuse not to at least demonstrate some good will towards job candidates and give them an update in a reasonable amount of time.
In this day and age with multiple methods of communicating, there are simple ways of improving the candidate experience. The things that matter to candidates include:
- Getting a ‘thank you’ when they apply for a job
- Hearing back within a few days on next steps
- Having the opportunity to participate in a phone interview
- Being able to ask some questions early on in the recruitment process
- Dealing with a recruiter who respects their time
- Being responded to quickly with concerns or questions
- Pre-boarding to give a candidate a glimpse of the company
- A smooth onboarding process once hired
Any company can implement the above aspects, by using an ATS and good communication practices. The candidate experience has to be honored, otherwise the employer brand can become tarnished. We’ve all read the negative reviews online.
Why might a company want to reconsider stopping communication before the end of the hiring process?
Regardless if the company decides to move forward with a candidate or cancels a job opening, there are some good reasons to not stop communicating before the recruitment process concludes. Candidate experience best practices can include frequent communication that includes full transparency. Most job seekers would rather hear the truth than to be given some generic answer, when it comes to a job. The sooner this happens, the better.
A possible scenario could be that the company decides to hold off on further hiring until after the annual budget is approved. A recruiter can send an email out to candidates that due to a temporary freeze on hiring, they should expect a delayed response (by a certain month), but that they are still being considered for employment at that time. Candidates can then be contacted once the budget is passed via a follow up email, to determine if they are still interested in employment. In every email, it’s best to thank the candidate for their interest in the company and their efforts are noticed.
How effective is your company's candidate experience? The McQuaig Candidate Experience Grader can tell you in 90 seconds. Click here to launch the grader!
In the case of candidates who are being rejected at some point during the recruitment process, it’s a good idea to be prompt in letting them know the status. Never wait more than two weeks after an interview to inform a candidate they are not going to be hired at this time. Be kind and state that they have outstanding qualities that may be suitable for a future position, therefore encourage them to re-apply in the near future for new openings.
As you work to improve the candidate experience, try to empathize with the thoughts and feelings and expectations of job seekers. The way you treat them, the way you communicate with them all play a big part in creating a reputation for your company.
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