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September 24, 2013

Can rejected applicants become brand ambassadors?

We’ve all been there. After taking hours filling out an application form and honing your resume into a tantalising document that’s sure to net that dream job you fire it off. And then you wait. Life carries on and after the closing date has passed you hear nothing back, so you send a polite follow up email. The silence is deafening.

The lack of any interaction that some companies offer can be disheartening to job seekers, but it’s important to see it from the other side. Some jobs may get hundreds, even thousands, of applicants. To even send off a form rejection letter or email can be a drain on already stretched resources. The thing is if it’s handled correctly candidate and response management can be an important method of brand promotion. But can rejected applicants become brand ambassadors?

Accentuate the positive

If someone goes to the effort of applying for a job with your company it probably means that they like the idea of working for you, whether that’s because of what your business does, the benefits you offer or scope for career progression. Even if an individual isn’t successful this time around, they may be right for a future position. If people come away from the application and/or interview process with a negative experience because they were ignored or not dealt with courteously, you can guarantee they won’t apply for future vacancies and they will tell others of their negative experiences.

Bad news travels fast, particularly in our digital age, and people aren’t shy about making negative comments online. Persistent negative feedback will have an impact on your brand image, and that can ultimately affect the bottom line.

Three-pronged approach

To make the application process a positive one for all applicants, even those that don’t make the cut, it’s important to have effective response & candidate management procedures in place.

A great way to start is by ensuring that all applicants receive a response from your company at each of the three major stages of the process, and that they increase in how personal they are at each stage.

1. Application received.

At this stage it’s fine to use an automated response. Make sure they receive a courteous acknowledgment of their application and a note to let them know that someone will be in touch if they are successful for interview.

2. Escalation or rejection.

If their application gets them through to an interview you’ll be making contact with them anyway, but you should also contact applicants who are rejected at this stage. This would be a good time to get a junior employee to send a personal email to the candidate. It doesn’t need to be lengthy, but the fact that each one is individualised will make the applicant feel that their effort was valued.

3. Post interview.

If an applicant isn’t selected after the interview stages have finished it’s really important that either the interviewer or senior HR staff contact the applicant directly and inform them, as well as thank them for their time and effort. If the applicant requests it you could also offer some feedback on why they weren’t selected. Although this kind of approach may seem time consuming, it’s really effective at building brand image. It means that people who are having direct contact with your company and employees will only have good things to say about it. Instead of seeing it as a resource-suck, see it as part of your marketing and promotion efforts.

Good candidate and response management will help improve your company and brand image, encourage positive word of mouth and can have an impact on current and potential employees as well as consumers and clients.