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How To Let a Job Candidate Down Easy

Depressed business peopleDepressed business people

January typically unleashes the busiest times of the year for job applications and hiring. Those looking to change jobs are ready for new beginnings, and those eager to hire are unburdened by end-of-2016 budget restrictions. Job applicants and managers are reenergized.

But as job applicants and managers get reenergized, it would be wise for hiring managers to think ahead in terms of the way they recruit talent. Often times, a company’s job candidates are also its customers, but unfortunately not many companies connect the dots, and it’s having a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.

For example, in my case, I’m a father to three young daughters. Say that I am also a very loyal customer of a national children’s clothing store brand. So loyal, I wouldn’t dream of calculating how much money I spend with them in a year.

Now, let’s say I stumble on a job opportunity with this company that fits my experience and I land an interview – that goes horribly. Not because I’m unqualified or gave a poor interview, but because the company was unprofessional throughout my experience, maybe I dealt with disrespectful interviewers or never received feedback on the status of my application.

If perception impacts behavior, it’s not a stretch for the bad experience I had in the hiring process to impact how I reward the company as a customer. What if I decide to take my business to the store across the street – or maybe never shop with them again? That would be too bad for this company- since I’m a complete princess-enabler.

Not enough companies – especially those in the consumer marketplace – are aware of the cause-and-effect implications of their hiring practices. There’s a relationship between how a consumer sees a company as an employer and as a brand. If we have a bad experience with a company as a candidate or employee, we’re far less likely to reward them with our money as a consumer.

Now you might wonder: is this really that big of a deal?Yes, and I’ll give you an example that I share with thousands of recruiters during Monster’s yearly Power Recruiter Workshops that give recruiting professionals insights into the current trends in HR and recruiting, as well as an understanding of the latest innovative tools and a crash course in new recruiting tactics.

Imagine for a minute that your business is a global boutique beverage chain. Let’s say your average customer spends $250 annually.On the recruiting side, let’s say they receive roughly 3 million applications per year. You then learn that approximately 80% of your applicants are also your customers — that means over 2 million of your customers have also interacted with your HR department and potentially anyone else in the hiring process!

If they’re spending an average of $250 per year, you’re looking at an annual customer value of nearly $600 million in at risk revenue flowing through your HR recruiting systems. It’s just a matter of fact that most of those applicants will become rejected candidates.

Even if this hypothetical is putting those numbers a little high, it’s based in truth – in a 2014 study on candidate rejection from Virgin Media, they uncovered a loss of 7,500 customers as a result of poor candidate experiences.

The volume of people applying to your company will likely surprise you. If those people are also your customers, and are not receiving an experience aligned to their expectations, you’re facing a significant drop in revenue and loss of marketing investment.

So what can executives do? The best solutions come when marketing and recruiting departments partner up to create a communications approach that serves both departments’ needs, including investment of time and money in your recruitment teams. Here are a few simple steps to take:

Tell the truth. Let candidates know how many candidates you get each year, and what percentage are hired. Not to scare them off, but to reinforce the popularity of your company/brand.

Be compassionate. If a candidate isn’t hired, let them down easy. Reinforce that you value both their interest in working for you, and in shopping with you. Add a personal touch to emails or rejection letters.

Be tangible. A simple coupon or product offer can help provide a small consolation to a candidate who didn’t get the job. More importantly, it helps transition them from an employment mindset back into a customer mindset.

It’s time to think more holistically when it comes to how hiring impacts your business, and where marketing (or any other department that can add customer perspective) plays a role. Especially during those times when hiring spikes, companies must be every vigilant in treating candidates with the respect they expect and deserve. Do this, and I promise – your bottom line will thank you.

Eric Winegardner is senior vice president and North American Chief Evangelist at Monster.