How Do Job Applicants Experience Your Brand?

Organizational Culture

Most of us at some point have been in a position where we needed to find a company to work for. The process can be daunting. You search job sites and postings, talk with past colleagues, reach out to contacts, ask for referrals and research possible organizations that may be a good cultural fit.

Then you finally find a few companies and opportunities to apply to. You spend the time to research the company and get to know them. You agonize over the words in your cover letter and who to address it to. You adjust your resume to better fit the open position and you have your significant other, family or friends proofread it all. Finally, you submit it to the infamous generic email address: Then much to your delight, you receive an auto-response email:

“Thank you for your interest in the position. Only successful candidates will be contacted for an interview.”

Translation: “We’re such an amazing company that we receive thousands of emails from desperate people begging for jobs. We just have to send generic emails to the masses as it’s the only efficient way to communicate. Good luck!”

No one admits to this openly, but there’s a real sense of rejection in this process. I still remember not getting the job at McDonald’s in my small town when I was 14. Who doesn’t get hired at McDonald’s? I felt horrible. And guess what – I avoided going there for years and swayed my friends not to go there either and told them the chicken isn’t real.

Somewhere HR and the process of communication has become separate from marketing. But this process has an impact on your brand. Our agency is just as guilty of this mainly because we don’t think about it. We’re too busy running the business to make this a more meaningful practice but it should change.

What if there was a better way? Here are my suggestions.

1. If someone likes you enough to put themselves out there to apply for a job – they could be great brand evangelists. Reward each applicant that applies with a small gesture such as “a FREE e-Book” on the subject matter of your business. Larger companies could integrate a coupon program with every job application or reward for a free soda or free product coupon and then track the redemption rate to determine its success.

2. Gift cards or a leaving present for all management interviews. If a higher level position warrants an interview or two, leave them with a small parting gift such as an influential book you’re reading. They’ve taken the time out of their busy schedules to be there for you and put themselves on the line.

3. If you’re a smaller organization and it’s a management position, let unsuccessful candidates know why they’re not being considered or given the job. Give people actionable feedback so they can improve. I know this is a hard email or conversation but they will appreciate it even if it’s disappointing for them. I recently gave this feedback to a job applicant who applied for us and even though I liked him he wasn’t the right fit for the role. He thanked me and told me to use his experience with other companies as a blog post. So I did! Thanks for reading AJ.

This topic was a wake-up call for me as I felt the pain of the brand disconnect and the experience of the many people searching for a role. Job applicants are people. We should put ourselves in their shoes more often and use it as an opportunity to wow them. You never know, they could be great brand advocates even if they’re not on the payroll.

Have a great day!