Tapping Rejected Candidates as Ambassadors of Company Culture

When the CEO of a unicorn mortgage lender startup fired 900 of his employees over a zoom call with several trailing expletives, the corporate world united in deriding his methods. Amidst the upheaval caused and the media glare, the distanced employees quickly became the undesignated ambassadors of the organization’s culture and how it treats people.

In the recruitment process, candidates, whether selected or rejected, can make or break an organization’s reputation as a preferred employee. Typically, the number of rejected candidates outweighs the ones hired. That’s bound to happen when managers are sifting through over 200 profiles to fill one coveted position. Of course, investing time and effort in pursuing qualified candidates is important; yet, the quality of experience for the rejected candidates is equally required and often overlooked.

Research indicates that more than 75% of prospective applicants never hear back from recruiters after an interview. The percentage of candidates that received a phone call that lets them know about a rejection stands at an abysmal 7%, according to professional networking giant LinkedIn. Interestingly, around 52% of this rejected base were open to re-apply or work with the same company if they received feedback from recruiters.

Optimizing the Talent Pool

Today, when the talent pool at large is choosing to stay away from a typically stressful corporate life, companies have more reasons to think beyond their average hiring strategy to attract the best candidates from an ever-shrinking pool. 

One of the ways to attract this increasingly hard to reach talent is with a powerful employer brand that highlights what kind of employee experience is being offered by a company. Before you go out to find your next great hire, think about how you would position your company in the eyes of both selected and rejected candidates. While a hired candidate’s experience is important, rejected candidates are untapped ambassadors of a company’s culture, depending on how the hiring managers treated them.

If you don’t believe us, just take a look at social media. LinkedIn and Quora are filled with enraged job applicants who never hear back from companies.

Sending a rejection letter to a non-selected candidate should be treated with the same importance as sending a selection letter to a shortlisted candidate. It is a gesture of respect to the individual who has shown interest in your organization and invested their time and effort to cooperate with your selection process.

Candidates who get proper rejection letters may spread word of mouth about the professional, positive, and responsive culture of the organization. That, in turn, can help the company attract more talent.

Being Ethical

As a hiring manager, it’s important to remember that every interaction with a job candidate is an opportunity to represent your company. Providing a positive experience for rejected candidates is not only the right thing to do, but it also has several benefits for your company.

  • Professionalism: 
  • Treating rejected candidates with respect and providing constructive feedback shows that your company values professionalism. This can help maintain the company’s reputation and make it more attractive to future job seekers.

  • Building a positive company culture:
  •  Providing a positive experience for rejected candidates helps to build a positive company culture and reinforces the organization’s commitment to treating all individuals with respect and dignity.

  • Maintaining a strong talent pool: 
  • Rejected candidates may be interested in future job opportunities at the company or may know others who are qualified for open positions. By creating a positive experience for rejected candidates, the company can maintain a strong talent pool and potentially attract top candidates in the future. 

  • Legal considerations:
  •  In some cases, failing to provide a positive experience for rejected candidates could result in legal consequences, such as a discrimination lawsuit.

Overall, creating a good experience for rejected candidates is an important aspect of responsible and ethical hiring practices. It helps ensure that all candidates are treated fairly and with respect, and helps to maintain a positive reputation for the company.  What matters most is that the candidate ends the interview sure that the panelist spent enough time with them to understand the skills and expertise they could bring to the table.

You don’t have to provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates during the first round sift; just make sure you tell any unsuccessful candidates that they haven’t progressed and thank them again for taking the time to apply. This reply can be automated. If you’re going to keep unsuccessful candidates’ details on file for potential future openings, let them know in an automated email reply and encourage them to stay in touch with you via social media.

Putting the human back in HR, especially during candidate engagement, can make your brand standout of the pool of digitized solutions. Beyond abilities, it’s about exploring cultural fit and alignment of aspirations. It’s a “right swipe” that needs to happen at both ends.

This article was first published on Nearshore Americas

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