Your HR Department is creating a Major PR Disaster

Posted on January 21, 2016 at 12:26 PM

The economy remains weak which means your organization has its pick of talent during the hiring process.  In fact, you are probably getting tens if not hundreds of qualified applications for each position you seek to fill.  Your quest to find the “purple squirrel” (Recruiter jargon for the “perfect job candidate”) has been easy.  Although you have discovered that there are often fifty shades of purple!  No problem though, eventually HR will send forty-nine of them your standard politely worded “we’ve carefully considered, and best of luck” letter (HR jargon for rejection letter).

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
William Congreve (1670 – 1729)
Or in this case; “PR hath no fury like a job applicant scorned.”  In the age of social networking and pay-it-forward preaching we often forget that humans hate pain.  And guess what?  When a highly qualified individual is summarily rejected with a boiler-plated letter from HR you’ve just opened a floodgate of painful emotions.  So, what’s a little pain and anger? Besides, it’s legal, and it can’t be prevented; after all we can’t hire every qualified applicant.
This issue is much larger than you realize.  Just ask your sales people.  They’ve been trained to probe for “pain points.”  They know that people make decisions to buy based on emotions.  When people make purchase decisions they are either moving toward pleasure, or away from pain.  Check in with your customer service group.  The use of smartphones and social media has fundamentally altered the science of customer complaints.  But Alan, it’s not personal with job applicants.
“It’s not personal, Sonny.  It’s strictly business.”
The Godfather
I love that line, but it’s dead wrong.  It’s always personal.  We are by nature, an emotional being.  We vividly remember pain, and who delivered it.  So, let’s take a look at some critical parts of this process through the eyes of the applicant and figure out if something could be done differently.
Purple squirrels know where to find the acorns, and they remember where they bury them.


Just because the applicant applied through a job site doesn’t mean they didn’t network their way throughout the process once they uncovered your job posting.  No doubt they’ve poured over your website and looked up all your key executives on LinkedIn and Twitter.  In fact, they’ve probably proactively reached out to many of your employees in order to establish rapport and credibility, and to try and get their foot in the door.
Social networks and relationships are constantly in play during this process and you can bet that the top flight candidates are well connected whether they fit your idea of the perfect shade of purple or not.  Let me say that again; “many of your rejections are well connected social media influencers.”  Are you still sure you want to send them the boiler-plated letter?  Many of those applicants you’ll be dismissing have tens of thousands or more Twitter followers than your own corporate Twitter profile.  That is guaranteed to send shivers of fear down the spine of your PR team.  And why shouldn’t it?  You are basically telling people who have the same power as a major publisher that you don’t really care about their feelings.
In my opinion the hiring manager (even if the position is reporting directly to the CEO) needs to send the letter.  A form rejection letter sent from HR months after the application was submitted only confirms that they were never seriously considered.  You’ve figured out how to do one-to-one marketing with your customers and prospects; it’s time to bring that same care to your HR process or you’ll find yourself losing ground fast in the social economy.
An employer’s treatment of job applicants is a very very good barometer of how they’re going to behave toward employees.
Are you treating your job applicants to the six-month job interview process?  Yes, we understand, it’s expensive to make the wrong decision.  Yes, you want to “get it right” and make sure everyone involved has input.  Yes, you want to make sure you’ve covered your a** in case the final selection doesn’t work out.  But in your attempt to make the perfect decision you are actually making your situation worse.
·         While you’re searching for that perfect fit your company is losing momentum.
·         And there are more than 50 common interview problems that you have probably not addressed.
You still need the interview process, but have some empathy for all the candidates. And make a decision for heaven sakes!

And just fun!

Categories: Public Relations

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