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Recruiters: Stop Torturing Job Seekers & Messing with Your Brand

{Originally published via LinkedIn this week where it was a top 10 article for 2 days}

I’m unemployed and actively searching for a challenging and stable new job – hopefully one that I will enjoy for the next five or so years until my daughter is out of uni and completes her masters (fingers crossed!). As fate would have it, working almost exclusively with start-ups and in contract roles has meant that I look for work more frequently than the average Joe, so I’m certainly no spring chicken to the game. But this time around it feels different to me, in both very positive and very negative ways.

As a job seeker, I’m sure that everyone’s routine is a bit different but here’s how 24 hours looks for me:

  • Based on the countries I am targeting – mainly east Asia, UAE, ANZ, western Europe and two cities in the USA – it takes me about three hours to review each of the websites for new postings, stage the jobs into new windows opened up on my browser, read them all one by one, and then apply to the roles where there is some synergy between my expertise and experience and their needs.
  • The next morning as I’m waking up I roll over, grab my iPhone and check my emails. Maybe there is an email requesting additional information or an interview request (hooray!). But mostly it’s a series of automated emails from recruiters and H.R. departments letting me know that I wasn’t moving forward in their selection process. Now that wouldn’t be so bad if the majority of the emails weren’t simply awful but they are! Imagine waking up each day for weeks or months on end and starting your day with a landslide of rejection!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Being Rejected

I would like to think that some recruiters and H.R. managers AREN’T purposely using their powers for evil but here are a few demonic practices I’ve witness lately that make me stop and wonder!

The deceptive email subject line!

  • Basically anything other than the position title and/or reference ID, for example ‘in reference to TITLE with COMPANY’ is unnecessary. When the subject line of a rejection email is overly warm and personable it gives a sense of false hope.

Crushing reasons why I am not a candidate:

  • This one is my #1 favourite. It’s from HTC, who BOASTS their good fortune instead of being gracious with me about my misfortune >> “We appreciate that you took the time to apply for the Director, Global Social Media opening advertised on our website. This message is to notify you that while we were unfortunately unable to pursue an interview with you for this role, we were fortunate enough to identify a candidate whose experience was a great match, and the position is now filled.” SERIOUSLY? I was damn surprised by this one!!! I mean, come on!!! Just thank me for my interest in HTC, advise me that I didn’t make it for that role, and encourage me to review HTC’s other open positions. That last bit was totally unnecessary and insensitive.
  • The ‘other candidates are better than you’ theme is used by so many firms and companies that it’s not worth calling anyone else out. Everyone just needs to stop that!

The Damaging Effect to Brands

Professionally speaking, what kills me almost as much as the all-too-frequent, ego-crushing emails is what I see happening to brands, many of which I respect, follow and even adore. It’s 100% apparent that most H.R. departments do not seek the advice of the communications and branding team to help draft their messages. The tone of the ‘we’ve received your CV’ or of the job rejection emails sounds NOTHING LIKE the brand voice that we all know and – hopefully – love. A brand’s voice should echo across all departments, and I hope that this article will inspire H.R. teams to start mirroring their brand voice in the communications to job seekers! By changing the voice of their brand, they will have a larger pool of applicants to choose from when recruiting, and it can help to reduce the workload of this department. Who wouldn’t like that?

Best Practices – Check Out the Shining Stars!

Now, it’s not all bleak. Some corporate H.R. teams DO embrace their brand voice. Either they are working hand-in-hand with the comms team or their department has fully embraced the nuances of their ‘voice’ and they are able to write messages that SOUND like they come from their brand.

Here are a couple of WINNERS that 1) stayed true to their brand, and 2) let me down in style:

Airbnb >>

Dear Angela,
Thank you for taking the time to apply with Airbnb. After further consideration of your profile, the hiring team has decided that there isn’t a good fit with what they’re looking for at this time.
We are flattered by the huge number of applications we receive from exceptional candidates and while exciting, this also makes the hiring process that much more challenging.
We appreciate you throwing your hat in the ring, we wish you success in your job search and future traveling adventures.
Thanks so much for all your time.
APAC Recruiting Team

Quirky >>

Hi Angela,
Thank you so much for taking the time to apply to Quirky. We truly enjoyed getting to know you through your application and resume!
Unfortunately, we have decided not to proceed with your candidacy for the Digital Marketing Director opening. We’ve received a ton of applications and had to make some difficult decisions across a competitive pool of candidates. With that said, we will be sure to keep your resume on file and contact you if another position arises that matches your skills and talents.
We appreciate your interest in Quirky’s movement to make invention accessible and we wish you the best of luck in your search.

So, the moral to my story is this…be kind to job seekers with your emails. Put yourself in our shoes and THINK – would you want to hear that you weren’t as qualified as someone else or simply that your qualifications weren’t an exact fit for the role? My guess is the latter because I definitely prefer hearing THAT! Then, be sure your brand voice is mirrored in your templates…and that applicants walk away feeling they know you just a bit more than before.

– Angela

© 2014, Angela Carson and All rights reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. anil

    Looks like the Chinese loved your style!
    Now that you are history are you going to dis them, it might help you find a job.

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