Will candidate experience cost you customers and talent?


Visionary leaders still have an eye on growth and the people they will need to deliver it! 

Recruitment has been frozen for most business since the COVID-19 pandemic really hit the UK. As so many are fully in survival mode, taking on new team members has been a low priority for the past couple of months. But some recruitment continues to take place in these difficult circumstances and, with capacity among non-furloughed staff stretched to the limit, it’s easy to fall into bad habits.

We have some important advice which has longer-term implications: Don’t risk future stars dismissing you in favour of a competitor all because of how you treat them in this time.  

In the current economic crisis, we are seeing an unprecedented level of struggle in the business community and, despite support from UK government, the collapse of some sectors and the shrinking of many businesses seems inevitable, and we may go on to witness the greatest level of unemployment for decades. 

On the flipside, there are and will continue to be “green shoots”because, for example, technology is more in demand as remote working becomes the norm for many. There will be business leaders who recognise the opportunities that come from UK businesses choosing to buy in the UK rather than seeking products and services from overseas, having recently had their fingers burnt when supply has been an issue. That may mean more employment opportunities in certain businesses, but it remains true that survival – having a business to come back to – is still the number one priority for many.  

Even though times are hard, the way you present your employer brand today will still impact on your reputation and your ability to recruit in the future.  How many conversations online are already about how companies are behaving during the pandemic? You’ve heard of motor insurance companies refunding customers voluntarily because of the reduction in accidents caused by lockdown? Stories like this spread on social media and word of mouth. What is said on social media, on websites like Glassdoor and simply to friends and family tends to stick, whether that’s now or in the future as they research your business when considering a role you’re looking to fill. 

Higher unemployment will mean a greater number of job applications and enquiries, so how can a HR team realistically respond to every one, whether it’s by email, phone call, social media post or job application response, and even if you do respond, how do you deliver a positive experience even though the news isn’t good?  

Things go wrong and sometimes we fail, but the measure of a person or business is how they handle the situation; in this case, how the news is delivered.  

Consider these three approaches to turning down an application: 

  1. “I’m sorry but we don’t have a position that’s right for you at present, but it’s brilliant that you thought of our company and if something comes up in the future we will definitely keep you in mind”
  2. “We’re not recruiting at the moment”
  3. No reply at all 


Not only could you put off a future star with enormous potential – who might go work for a competitor – but, thinking commercially, this could have a detrimental impact on sales and customer opinion. Imagine that candidate is a friend or relative of one of your prospects or an existing customer. What impact does a poor experience have when a rejected candidate tells their business owner parent over the dinner table that they “never even heard back” from your company? I personally witnessed a busness owner say they would no longer work with a supplier because of the experience of a member of their family. The potential impact on revenue was tens of thousands of pounds.   

So what are your options?  It really isn’t realistic to think that one or two people in HR or a line manager will personally call or email hundreds of unsuccessful candidates but with sophisticated recruitment technology, you can ensure that every single one of them gets a warm, appreciative response.  

Using our recruitment marketing software “Teamtailor”, this process can be fully automated using “triggers” and, depending on the skillset of your candidate, you can even pipeline those people with potential in candidate pools, so when you are ready to recruit in the future, you can pick up the phone and say “Hi, you expressed interest in our business a few months back and at the time we didn’t have a position, but we would love to talk to you now if you’re open to that.”  

Don’t alienate candidates. Don’t damage your employer brand by failing to deliver a positive impression on potential future employees.  How you treat people today will without doubt impact your recruitment tomorrow. 

For more information on how we can help you be deliver a great candidate experience and at the same time be more efficient in your recruitment process, saving you a lot of time, email tim@thewordagency.co.uk or call 01482 236488.




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