Dear Candidate 5a26jd7: Your Application Is Very Important to Us

Jan 23, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 9.52.30 AMThe recruiting buzzwords circle in our brains: candidate experience, employer of choice, culture, employment branding, talent pools, talent communities, candidate relationships, etc.

Your expensive and time-consuming investments in all of these things won’t be worth it the technology is used wrong. Candidates will sour on you or abandon the process. They’ll self-select out for reasons having nothing to do with aptitude or job-related qualifications.

Let me explain.

“Please rest assured that your information has been received and there is no need to try and contact us directly for a status.” This was the automatically generated reply that was sent from an applicant tracking system. I was flabbergasted at the impersonal message as well as the fact that they used more words than necessary to say, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

As a former product manager of applicant tracking systems, I know that these messages can be customized. Recruiters: use this communication as a way to embrace candidates and enhance that candidate’s experience. I understand that you are busy, and implementing applicant tracking systems can be arduous, and that oftentimes other aspects of the implementation get priority. But don’t forget to make the content valuable and inviting.

With my most recent experience as a candidate, I thought I was applying for a position with a company that shared similar values to mine. The website touted a mission statement of “Building Relationships; Enhancing lives.” Clearly two different people wrote the web copy and the automatic email response. Ask yourself: is there a discrepancy between your HR’s employment brand and the company brand? Are you consistent with your messages that are sent out from your company in the recruiting process?

The technology you implement to recruit candidates and get their information into your system should be easy for candidates to navigate. Assuming you’ve eliminated all technical issues, the process should reflect your company’s employment brand.

Many articles have been written on employment branding, but to sum it up in the simplest of terms your brand is the impression you create through your website, your recruiting process, and the communications you have with candidates. In this electronic age, this is where you get to convey your human personality. It is what will resonate with your ideal candidate. Your brand is what makes a candidate say, “I will fit in there and I want to work there!” Be who you say you are in all that you say and do.

Automatically generated email responses are a necessity. They are clearly a time saver and an opportunity to provide follow-up information to the process or manage candidate expectations. As a candidate, I may be the 12,001st applicant to that position, but don’t make me feel like it. During the application process, I typed my name at least once. Please use the mail merge field and use my name in future correspondence with me. If you call me “applicant” or “candidate” now, will I be just an employee number later?

Your relationship with your candidates needs to be nurtured, and the process of getting your database populated with good data should be painless. The best organizations have found out how to meet these two objectives in one applicant tracking system. Highly qualified individuals may be one “next step” away from abandoning the process you’ve designed merely because it is cumbersome.

In the real world, no one cares if telephone numbers are entered with dots, dashes, or parentheses. An applicant tracking system should not care either. After entering all of my employment start and end dates and telephone numbers, I don’t want to be told that the formatting was incorrect. Technology has evolved; it can transform data or automatically correct it. If you have a legacy system or homegrown one, build reminders or examples into the system.

Your recruiting process, regardless of applicant tracking system, should bolster your brand and keep your candidates active and engaged through the entire process. After all, you want your new employee’s enthusiasm on day one to be higher than the day they started the applicant process.

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