How to maintain your relationship with rejected candidates

How to maintain your relationship with rejected candidates

Rejection in any area of life is never pleasant. And during the course of a career, you are likely to experience it several times in the most hurtful of ways – that of silence. A survey by CareerBuilder reported that three quarters – yes three quarters – of candidates never hear back from the recruiter. It’s a shocking statistic. And if it’s something you are guilty of, you are seriously impacting your organisation’s ability to attract the top talent and wasting a potentially lucrative resource.

Your rejected candidates are valuable

You might ask yourself why it matters what people think if you’re not going to employ them. But those rejected candidates are precious if treated well – and dangerous if not. ADP report that 74% of job seekers tell others about a poor recruitment experience. And when it’s done on social media, it’s there for the world to see.  

But that’s not all. It’s a very good idea to maintain a great relationship with the candidates who didn’t get the job because they can help you in other ways. Capitalise on this valuable resource by handling the rejection process well, then build on those foundations, and you create a scenario that benefits both parties.

They know people

The average number of contacts in someone’s phone is 47. Their full network will be much larger. If you have a maintained a good relationship, there is no reason why you can’t ask rejected candidates for referrals to other roles that arise – obviously once a decent amount of time has passed since you turned them down! It’s a great opportunity to get back in touch, and it demonstrates just how diligent you are in trying to fill all the vacancies you have. TalentBoard research shows that when candidates have a good experience, 52% are more likely to apply again or refer others.  

They might be a route to new leads

You know how it goes. When one person wants to leave, it can spark a whole raft of potential resignations as others reassess their employers. It’s worth a call to your candidate a little while after rejection. Touch base to see how things are at their company. It shows you are interested in them and

it is also is a chance to dig a bit deeper about their colleagues. Have any of them recently left, is there anyone else who is considering a move? Disgruntled employees are often very open to talking, and such a conversation may reveal of a number of people you can potentially headhunt. 

Improve your recruitment brand

We’re talking candidate reviews here. Research from BrightLocal shows that 85% of us trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. They are seen as the most credible source of advertising. As part of your rejection process, you should ask for a review. Make it easy for people to leave you one – you can use Google My Business or Glassdoor, for example. Hopefully, it will be good, and you can use it to improve your brand by using it on your website and in social media. But even if it doesn’t glow quite as much as you would like, it’s great feedback for you on how you can improve.

Reduce future recruitment costs

You’ve spent a lot of time and money on those rejected candidates. Once they’ve been through the recruitment process, you’ll know their strengths and weaknesses. And whilst they weren’t right for the job you’ve just filled, they may be perfect for a future vacancy. Build on the relationship you have started, and you’ll end up with a database of future potential employees.

So the next time you’re tempted to knock off a quick generic email to the unsuccessful candidate – or worse, feel too busy to contact them at all – remember that you will be throwing away the trust that has been built. Create a constructive and empathetic rejection process that is personal to the candidate, and you may well reap the rewards long into the future.

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