How are you treating the people who are considering coming to work for you? In some organizations, the answer is not very well.
Companies and institutions are constantly interacting with employees, shareholders, customers or clients, suppliers, the news media, regulators and elected officials, etc. If treated well, all those “stakeholders” become potential ambassadors of the organization’s brand. If abused, they can cause a world of hurt.
Job candidates become stakeholders – if only for that limited period during which they consider potential employment. When treated with courtesy and respect, even if they are not offered a job, they are likely to view the employer with equal respect and become great brand ambassadors. Conversely, when treated poorly, they are likely to use all the forms of current online communication to spread the word about their experience. “Be treated well and tell ten people, but be treated poorly and tell twenty,” understates the reach of blogs and social networks.
There are numerous reasons why the employment process can go awry.
- Candidates are people – not ‘applicants.’ A surprising number of hiring authorities, for ex-ample, continue to think of job candidates as “applicants” – a term that traces back to the days when Human Resources was the Personnel Department, and people sought work by filling out applications. That may still apply to some hourly-paid positions, but most organizations and search firms actively seek people for positions, not jobs for people. Whether those potential employees are found through networking, recruitment services or online postings, some sort of vetting process screens the talent pool and reduces it to a handful of qualified contenders – properly known as candidates.
- You didn’t hire a great candidate when you had the chance. Among some involved in the hiring process, the attitude also exists that the job is more important than the people being considered to fill it – a belief that is propagated during periods of economic scarcity, when good positions may be more difficult to secure. If the supply of candidates is considered to exceed the supply of jobs, that tends to encourage employers to string out the interviewing process (always wanting to see more people), to be slow in reaching a hiring decision and to be stingy when formulating the actual offer. There is war for talent. When smart employers meet a person they want to hire, they move quickly. Great candidates have many opportunities. Don’t wait to hire.
- Hiring wasn’t a priority. In many organizations, a different kind of problem stems from the fact that hiring is rarely anyone’s primary job. In fact, the term “hiring manager” typically refers to the principal decision-maker in a hiring situation, not to what that person does for a living. As a result, given the range of responsibilities and problems facing the typical ‘hiring manager,’ the actual act of hiring often takes a back seat. And if that means postponing interviews or even final offers, that’s just the way things are. Moreover, as time-management experts remind us, what’s urgent generally trumps what’s important – another body blow to the hiring process.
- The interview team didn’t know what they were interviewing for. Some employers just can’t seem to get their act together – for instance, allowing managers to bow out of the interviewing process at the last minute, failing to agree on the “must haves,” job responsibilities, title or performance metrics before interviews begin, etc. Candidates are acutely aware during an interview process. If your team is disorganized and unprepared, you are sending a red flag of “that’s the way things are handled if you work here.”
- You didn’t tell them you ‘loved them.’ Eventually, however, Mr. or Ms. Right will emerge among the two or three best-qualified. What is so amazing is that many employers will fail to display any form of positive emotion at that point, preferring to say “We’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks.” If you were dating and your date said, I had a really nice time, but want to wait a couple of weeks to talk with you, would you be inclined to wait around? Perhaps if you were unattached (unemployed), however, a really good candidate with high self esteem, may read that as a long, drawn out rejection. If you like a candidate, make sure you tell them before they walk out the door. Give them hope and keep them excited about you and the company.
Related Article: How to Conduct a Job Interview - 7 Tips for employers on creating a positive first impression.