Beware: Employers Behaving Badly
By Peter Weddle
Candidates are people too. And in today’s world, people are more social than at any other time in human history. They interact in two different worlds, one real and the other virtual. Treating people poorly during the recruiting process, therefore, can produce a double whammy that harms an organization’s employment brand not once, but twice.
What constitutes bad behavior by an employer? Whatever job seekers say it is. That’s the candidate analog to the oldest axiom in business: the customer is always right.
So, how do job seekers define bad behavior?
While they are irritated by any number of the practices and policies that shape contemporary recruiting processes, their chief complaint – by a very wide margin – is a feeling they get from too many employers. They sense they are being disrespected.
What makes them feel that way? In survey after survey, they identify the causal bad behavior as the “resume black hole.” They submit an application and hear absolutely nothing back from the employer. No thank you. No information. Not even an acknowledgement that their resume was received.
We recruiters, of course, have several reasonable explanations for such behavior. These days, we’re drowning in resumes and working with historically low levels of both staff and budgets. And, all too often, our technology lets us down. Our applicant tracking systems are unable to generate even a canned response to candidates, let alone one with any semblance of humanity.
Worse, this behavior has now come to be seen as a business strategy by corporate executives. It’s recruiters doing their part for enterprise success by “doing more with less.” Only that’s not what’s happening. The strategy may make the bean counters smile, but it’s actually harming the enterprise. It’s undermining the caliber of talent we can recruit.
The Double Dose of Bad News
Here’s a truism of the social web. People find their own level. Peers talk to peers. Or to put it more bluntly, the best talent talks to the best talent. So, when we display the kind of behavior that job seekers define as bad, the word gets out. And, it gets to the people we least want to hear it.
Worse, candidates extrapolate. They believe that bad behavior in a recruiting process is a predictor of bad behavior in the workplace. If an organization disrespects job seekers, it is likely to do the same to its employees.
That kind of brand can doom our recruiting efforts no matter how good we are at our job. The best talent has choices, and they will almost always avoid the organization that comes across as a bad employer. Whether they experience its bad behavior themselves or they hear about it from a peer.
So, what should we do?
First, we need to lean on our ATS vendors. We should demand that they provide an auto-responder capable of handling an unlimited number of applications at any one time. Further, that auto-responder should also be able to transmit a message that reads as if it was actually written by a human.
Second, once we’ve acquired the capability for good behavior, we should promote it to the world. We should feature it in every job posting and on our corporate career site, Facebook page, Twitter profile and LinkedIn page. How? By making a two-part statement:
• Part one is our employer’s public commitment to acknowledge the receipt of every candidate application
• Part two is our employer’s public recognition that doing so is a courtesy every candidate deserves.
Assuming the ATS community measures up to its role, that simple assertion will go a long way toward burnishing our employer’s brand and differentiating it from employers behaving badly. Those delinquents may still attract a lot of candidates, but only our employers will attract (and recruit) the best talent.
Thanks for reading,
Visit me at Weddles.com
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System and Recognizing Richard Rabbit. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.
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