Three simple ways to stop sabotaging your employer brand

Sarah Cooper

By Sarah Cooper

21 Aug 2017

Three simple ways to stop sabotaging your employer brand

If you employ people your employer brand exists, with or without your input. It impacts how you recruit and your ability to attract quality candidates affects the company's bottom line, regardless of your industry.

Research on candidates' experience of recruitment is extensive and overwhelmingly negative. So even if you're already concerned about the quality of that experience in your organisation, it's probably much worse than you think. Poor communication is the number one candidate gripe, but with so many changing variables getting it right is no easy feat. Many of us procrastinate about communicating with candidates as the whole picture can change from one day to the next.

Whether you have a whole department dedicated to it, five minutes in your day assigned to it or it's an item on your to do list that you never have time for, there is always something you can do to improve things. So what are three simple things you can control and take action on, which will make all the difference to your employer brand when you are hiring new talent? 

1. Keep up with candidate responses and handle them professionally

Do much more than just provide an automated confirmation of receipt. 91.4% of candidates reported zero contact beyond this in a recent study by TalentBoard, a not-for-profit organisation focused on the improvement and promotion of candidate experience.

So you are just one email away from being in the less than 10% of organisations who do something extra and that email could just close the vacancy. In the same study, 83% of candidates said that no notice was given that the position they were applying for had been filled. Good practice needs to happen across multiple platforms too. Don't forget that adverts on websites like Indeed are likely to have been aggregated across the web so keeping third party suppliers up to date is essential.

Make a decision on everyone. It's easy to reply to those who obviously don't meet your criteria and excitedly chase those that do, but what about the maybes? You might hold onto a CV just in case, but be honest, how many times do you return to them? This delay ultimately turns into inaction. 

Craft your communications. Yes, individual personalisation will elevate your candidate experience, but that is not always possible with spiralling applications for all your vacancies. Review your email templates and brush up on your copywriting skills. Every communication is a chance to leave a positive impression, even those containing unwelcome news.

"Be upfront about the negative aspects of any role. This is just as important as the value proposition. The right candidate is happy to make a balanced decision when aware of all the facts."

Cover more eventualities. You can always add to your email template library. It's amazing how many recruiters don't have a simple note explaining that the application was received late in the process and is not being assessed at this time.

2. Represent the truth

Share ambiguity with candidates. If you don't know when a decision will be made due to a change in organisation structure, an international market event, sickness or simply annual leave, then let the candidate know. The actual details sometimes need to be kept confidential, so write that 'the role is on hold,' email template, you know you're going to use it.

Be upfront about the negative aspects of any role. This is just as important as the value proposition. The right candidate is happy to make a balanced decision when aware of all the facts, it's an essential part of the matching process. Overselling and poorly managing expectations is directly linked to your retention figures.

Be yourself. Not every organisation has a foosball table and not every candidate wants to play at lunchtime. There is no point promoting flexible working hours and easy parking if that's not your reality. Remember there are often different team and departmental cultures as well. 

3. Never assume that the candidate has forgotten about you

Close the door sensitively on all unsuccessful candidates. This is especially true of passive candidates. Many recruiters don't effectively bring an end to correspondence due to time pressures, embarrassment or awkwardness. They tell themselves a candidate wasn't actively looking anyway or that they will have found another job by now. Regardless, they will remember they never heard back from you. That's enough to undo all the hard work finding, assessing and engaging someone that may have gone on previously. 

A survey from HR technology company CareerArc found that candidates who were not informed of the status or decision of their application are three and a half times less likely to reapply to that company again. The same research found that of the 60% of candidates who had a poor experience, 72% shared that experience online or directly with a colleague or friend.

Employer brand – what's the reality for you?

The three tips above are basic common sense, but whatever our intention, looking at the research, it is something organisations are clearly failing at. If that's the case for you – what are the reasons? Is it down to a lack of time and resource – which means you can't give recruitment management the attention to detail that you want? Or perhaps there are too many people in your recruitment process, which means the communication chain is too long for you to manage? So the question to answer is not how you are sabotaging your employer brand, but why is it happening?

When it comes to critical roles, such as attracting a new member of your senior executive team, your candidate experience is even more important. You need recruitment campaign management that is intelligent, transparent and attracts the best talent to your organisation. Talk to me today about how Connor can do this for you.

Interviews are a crucial element of your candidate experience. That's why we've compiled Scientifically proven - the 50 best leadership interview questions a free guide that helps you to avoid making expensive mistakes with your leadership recruitment.

Sarah Cooper is head of recruitment at Connor and an experienced in-house recruiter. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her opinions on LinkedIn

Sarah Cooper

Contact Sarah Cooper

Head of recruitment

"For critical roles, you need recruitment campaign management that is intelligent, transparent and attracts the best talent to your organisation. Talk to me about how Connor can do this for you."

Sarah Cooper

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