For anyone who has ever been a job applicant, you know what a challenging experience the process can be with having to tweak cover letters and resumes, track the application process, wait-wait-wait, and then comes the interview marathon.
How a company interacts with an applicant during this process says a lot about the company culture and many business owners don’t give a second thought to their hiring methodology.
It’s a shame too because they are probably making one big business marketing mistake.
I have always believed HR should fall under the marketing department at any business and the hiring process should be handled much in the same way as an advertising campaign or a product launch.
You might think this is crazy, but hear me out.
Too many valuable people are being laid waste during the out-of-touch hiring processes that fail to see all applicants as possible future great employees, next product or service customers, or business networking referrals. Too often, the handling of the hiring process gets treated as a one-time event, a yes-or-no situation.
Interacting with applicants just as “applicants” is a business marketing mistake that may be costing you in the long run.
Companies should handle applicants like they regard customers–hopefully with some reverence, respect, and desire to know more about them. You never know who an applicant knows, is related to, or where they may end up working.
Too many businesses behave as if obtaining an interview is the applicants lucky day, instead of looking at this first meeting as an opportunity to get to know someone new who is so interested in the company they are willing to sit for an interview. I don’t care what the resume looks like or how they are not the right fit–if they were a potential customer, how would this change your first interaction?
Let me offer an example.
An applicant sends a company a resume. Then hears nothing. One might believe that the company isn’t interested. Why is this left to interpretation and guesswork? If a customer emailed you, would you answer them? So why isn’t an autoresponder email sent to all applicants? With all of the automation software at our fingertips, it boggles my mind that adding applicants to an autoresponder funnel series is not the standard.
Here, businesses have a perfect opportunity to talk with a stranger about what the company does and thank an applicant for their interest in working for the firm. Autoresponders can be used to point applicants to items of interest on a website and invite them to follow on social media.
An effective autoresponder list segmentation is separating the top applicants from those with resumes that don’t have the right skills at the present moment. An autoresponder to the disqualified applicants could direct this list to an HR page detailing what background and skills are best and invite them to sign up on an HR mailing list for future job openings or any marketing newsletters.
The top applicants should receive an autoresponder informing them of what to expect next in the hiring process. Tell them a bit more about company perks, like vacation and medical benefits. Offer a timeframe of what length to plan for the hiring process. I’ve seen companies take three months to decide on a candidate only to have their favorite candidate go to the competition because the hiring process took longer than what the applicant expected. If hiring is going to take three months and require three interviews–tell the best applicants in your first autoresponder.
It’s a simple act of kindness to acknowledge the receipt of an application or a job inquiry. The businesses who treat applicants like future customers will create evangelists who forever view the company in a positive light–even if they don’t advance to the interview stage.
I have seen a few great companies create website portals for applicants to upload resumes and periodically update their information on file, so the HR department has a database of applicants. Even at this level of interaction, it is rare that HR adds these applicants to an autoresponder to keep in regular contact. The beginning of each month, these applicants should receive an HR company update with a list of new positions currently available.
If you run a business and you think you don’t have the time to execute an autoresponder campaign for applicants, you are wrong.
The initial setup may take you a little bit of time, but once you have the autoresponders in place, they become very simple to manage. And for small businesses, it’s essential to embrace everyone who contacts you because you never know from where the next significant opportunity will come.
I knew a small business owner known around town for how awful he treated young people who’d walk into his business to ask for a job application. He’d become irritated and he’d act short-tempered with them–never following through on calling any of them. One young man went on to become a favorite professional athlete who never recommended this small business owner’s business. This small business could have significantly benefited from his recommendation. Ultimately, he went out of business, and a lot of people in the area were not sorry to see him go under because of the way he had treated young people asking about a job. Think of the parents, grandparents, cousins, friends, teachers, and coaches who heard the same application story over and over. Imagine if this owner had merely taken the time to come up with a natural process for people to apply and pick up applications where he didn’t have to be disturbed?
He never looked at those young people as potential customers. I believe this is one of the main reasons why his business failed.
One of my favorite marketing mantras is “Make Wise Use of Everything.” I am surprised at the number of businesses who don’t look at their application process as a marketing opportunity and treat it as such–to make wise use of the application interaction. Every single interaction with a stranger is an opportunity. It’s not difficult for a company to shine at the beginning of a hiring process. And if I hear one more manager say to be that they get “too many applicants” and this is impossible to execute, then I want them to turn to their marketing person or sales team and say, “I have 970 potential customer emails sitting out there that I am too busy to handle.” Watch their heads spin. Trust me; someone would find a way to add those applicant emails to a list and create an automated system for handling them in the future.
As we like to say in marketing, “It’s all in how THEY look at it.” Make your applicants rave about your company even if they don’t get an interview. Don’t make the business marketing mistake of not responding well to an inquiry. They will talk about you on their social media platforms and share their experience with family and friends, and every single time they see the logo or something about the company in the news.
It estimated that on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening. (Source ERE) Just imagine if every single one of them referred business to the companies that treated them well from the very first email. Think about the fact that people tell an average of 9 people about good experiences, and warn 16 (nearly two times more) people about poor experiences. (Source: AE Research Survey) Multiply these numbers by the long arm of social media, and you can see why a company’s hiring style is also a place to create a significant business marketing opportunity.