Keeping candidates happy, even when it's bad news

Employers have difficult decisions to make when recruiting: who to shortlist and interview, and who to hire. It’s tough on us, but just as tough for the candidates.

DaveRigbyBy Dave Rigby, director at My People People.

In my experience managing a jobs board, I hear from candidates who are excited about a potential new role, but are dismayed when they don’t hear any response from the recruiters.

We always encourage recruiters to let all candidates know the outcome of their job application, and the reason for that outcome.

It’s my view that we all share responsibility for candidate morale, even when they’re not good enough for the job. That old chestnut of ‘If you don’t hear back from us within 7 days, you haven’t been successful’ is a real cop-out!

Giving feedback to rejected candidates shouldn’t be difficult or time consuming, bearing in mind the automated systems available out there for mass communications.

All it requires is a minimal time investment to write an honest statement about why they missed the mark this time, and honesty really is the best policy!

Don’t pussyfoot about, just be direct. A few good examples are:
  • ‘Your CV didn’t show any evidence of your experience providing customer service’
  • ‘We had other candidates who had more relevant experience in marketing in our specific field’
Or even
  • ‘The application you made for this role did not show you had given sufficient thought to demonstrating the skills and competencies we were looking for, and we found no evidence that you had the relevant experience.’
These are very generic examples, but they give the candidates something to work with.

Whether they are applying for jobs they aren’t qualified for, or they are more suited to a different field, they at least have some food for thought, and they know that you have taken the time to consider their application properly.

They’ll see that as a good thing, despite the bad news message, and your feedback can help them manage their own development.

And why should we do this?

Firstly, you’ll develop a reputation as an employer who cares – and that’ll work wonders when you continue to recruit.

As a good employer, you’ll want to be seen to look after people, staff or otherwise. Candidates who have been rejected might then continue to apply once they’ve acted on your feedback, and they could promote positive messages about you to their contacts. Secondly, remember – your candidates could be your customers. If they have a negative recruitment experience with you, they’ll be negative about using your brand, and with the power of social media today, their publicly aired views could also influence many others.