Does Your Talent Acquisition Plan Enrage or Engage Top Talent?

Talent acquisition is critical, but sometimes the focus is too much on acquisition and not enough on the talent–that is, we focus on the mechanics of how to hire people, but don’t spend enough time considering the human side of the equation.

Most times, the hiring process lacks any attention to the treatment of candidates–and more importantly, the opinions they’re forming of your company and probably sharing with other professionals.

Is Your Employment Brand Broken?

For a number of years, Talent Optimization Coach and Consultant Kelly Blokdijk has worked one-on-one with job seekers of all levels–mostly experienced, educated, mid/senior-level professionals from various industries–to assist them in preparing for their next opportunity. In doing so, she’s collected countless anecdotes and what some may refer to as horror stories.

For brevity, these are condensed down to the basic situation without the full contextual reference points. But Ms. Blokdijk’s examples leave no doubt that employers are missing opportunities to build relationships with their target audience, potential customers, and most importantly, brand ambassadors.

1. Vague Rejections

Jordan spotted a job posting on one of his email alerts that looked to be below his level, but since he knew someone at the company, he checked for more information. It turned out that the hiring manager really liked his background and even filled in some details to make the position sound a bit more advanced than how it was written. After investing several hours over a few weeks, including taking an entire day off work to travel for interviews, he was rejected with a vague and confusing “not a cultural fit” excuse.

2. Inappropriate Interviewers

During a phone interview with an internal corporate recruiter (that was arranged by a boutique search firm who pre-vetted her), the first question 45-year-old Megan was asked was, “What year did you graduate from college?” The remainder of the call contained equally irrelevant, offensive, and condescending questioning and commentary by the corporate recruiter.

In a face-to-face interview, Jody’s resume format and content were ripped apart by the interviewer, who proceeded to complain and chastise her over her level of experience and suitability for the position. Rather than sit there and take the abuse, Jody held her composure long enough to excuse herself in time to keep her tears between her and her steering wheel.

3. No Sense of Culture

When it was her turn to ask questions at the end of a panel interview that seemed focused on company culture, Casey asked the interviewers to define and describe the unique elements of their culture. A few of them stated “fun” as the key component. Casey found this ironic since the entire team never smiled or showed any emotion or expression during her interview session, which felt more like an interrogation or court hearing.

Ken was referred by an internal executive at a company, where he was ushered through a series of interviews, meeting up to 10 different people. Though the final round was positioned as a last gauge of chemistry/culture fit, Ken was subjected to yet another batch of rudimentary and one-sided behavioral interview questions posed by a group who seemed disinterested in him as a co-worker, just curious to hear his answers to some odd inquiries.

4. Stringing Along Applicants

Tiffany was hopeful about a promising-sounding position after being actually told that she was the only remaining top contender. She thought it was a great sign when the hiring company asked for her references. The very next day, luckily before her references were checked, Tiffany was crushed to learn that the company had decided to move forward and offer the position to an internal candidate.

Alan’s prospective employer took things a bit further and actually checked his references (which were all glowing) before sending him through one more round of panel interviews. Unfortunately, even though everyone up to that point thought Alan was an awesome catch, the last crowd didn’t agree. He was left stunned, going from the top candidate with an imminent offer, to being told “never mind.” The worst part was feeling upset that he had troubled his references and now had some explaining to do for the false alarm.

There are plenty more examples of poor behavior and broken employment brand tales to add, but here’s the issue: employers can’t expect top talent to land at their doorstep, then subject them to countless hoops to jump through, steps to climb, and personalities to read–only to reject them for no apparent reason, and sometimes without follow-up. Everything from inadequate and misleading job postings to excessive numbers of interviews and abrupt, unexplained dismissals points to a severe lack of concern for the candidate experience.

So what can you do? Think about your employment brand. Your brand is the image two groups of people have about what your company is like to work for. The first group is the people who already work for you. The second group is those people who do not work for you–the people you may need to influence in the future to fill your open requisitions, or to recommend you to their contacts. Figure out what your brand is currently and what you want it to be. Great employment brands don’t happen by chance. They are intentional. Then teach your employees how to promote your brand properly. As the economy recovers, employment branding will re-emerge as a critical issue. Employers can’t afford to mistreat or neglect anyone who might be a source of revenue, references, referrals or business leads.