My mother always insisted that her children offer solutions, not just complain. After last week’s post about the rudeness of most online job application systems, I now want to cite one company that does such a good job that even people passed over for jobs feel positive about the experience.
By coincidence, four people I know were finalists for a top communications job at a major Chicago financial services firm. In separate conversations with each of them, I heard a consistent theme: Great communications throughout the process.
“Shortly after the standard form response that the online application was received, I heard that I make the first cut and was told how the process would work and I was given a broad overview on how the search would proceed,” said one of the applicants. “After the first round of interviews, I received a note explaining that a major corporate event would delay any activity relating to the search for four weeks—but I shouldn’t read anything into the lack of communication during that time.”
Another candidate said she received a call from the company after her second interview explaining that the firm had narrowed the search to two other candidates. “I can’t recall ever getting such a call in the past, especially before the final decision is made. It freed up my thinking and got me mentally back to the active job search rather than anticipating the potential of this position.”
“This experience is a rare — if not the sole — exception to standard practice in the recruiting arena,” said a fourth candidate. “It was a very disciplined process there. They explained the entire process and timing from the outset and everything proceeded according to plan … except I didn’t get the job!” The candidate even complimented the HR rep who gave him the bad news. “I was impressed with how classy and buttoned-up they were.”
While the company name remains anonymous here by request, I congratulated a former colleague who works for the firm. He seemed surprised that anyone thought this was unusual protocol. “It just comes naturally around here to treat people like we’d want to be treated.”
All firms should strive for such follow through and transparency. In order to protect brand reputations with potential future employees, companies and agencies should seriously review hiring processes—beginning with the perceived “black hole” of their online application systems. Remove much of the mystery and frustration involved in the hiring process by making sure you include the following four elements:
- Verify receipt of all applications. Confirm receipt of each application and note how long the application window will be open.
- Explain how the process will work. Provide periodic updates, letting those who are potential candidates know they are being considered, and notify those who no longer are being considered.
- Provide a way for applicants to update their applications and inform you of changes in their status. Applicants should be encouraged to remove their names from your search when they land jobs elsewhere. They will do it if the system is user friendly. It also can contain a check off that indicates if they might be interested in future openings, thus creating a potential pipeline for future searches.
- Close the loop. Once the position is filled, inform all who applied and thank them for their interest in the position. Finalist candidates should receive a phone call, not a form email.