Employer branding and the candidate experience - a note of caution

Darragh McCarthy 15.12.2011

The depth and duration of the current global economic crisis has meant that with the exception of a few notable industries and specialist areas, the supply of candidates in recent years has by far outstripped demand. This has unfortunately led to a proliferation of bad practice in the recruitment industry. That goes for in-house recruiters just as much as some of their agency counterparts.

What I would like to discuss is employer Branding and the candidate experience. The best talent acquisition and HR departments in the world are already highly cognisant of these terms and what they mean, I know because thankfully I work with many of them, but it is clear that many others are not.

Employer branding is the external and internal perception of your company. That means not only being concerned about what your current employees think, but also being concerned about the external view of potential or future employees.

Too many companies don’t seem to realise that how they manage the candidate experience once they receive an application for a job can have a huge bearing on their employer branding. The candidate experience starts when a candidate sends in their CV and ends when they either get, or don’t get the job. I would argue that working with a good recruitment agency will give the company a far more positive employer branding, as they are working with a partner whose job is not only to help manage the recruitment process, but also to help sell the company as an employer of choice. Equally, working with an unprofessional agency will be potentially harmful.

Companies who don’t acknowledge the receipt of a CV; who don’t follow the process they have set out at the beginning; who refuse to give interview feedback to candidates who have given up their time to attend interview; must be mindful of the impact these actions can have on their employer branding. Simply put, candidates are consumers and are potential clients of many of the companies to which they apply. A negative candidate experience will lead to negative employer branding.

It’s a small world and the proliferation of social media, websites and blogs means that if someone has a negative message it isn’t too difficult to get it out there. Perhaps over the last few years, some companies have assumed that it doesn’t matter what the candidate experience is like, because there were plenty of candidates out there, desperate for a job. This is a very short-sighted and dangerous view. Managing your employer brand perception starts with managing your candidate experience. Not doing this can be highly destructive when it comes to both recruiting and retaining talent.

Where a candidate is unsuccessful for a role, not providing feedback as to why is probably the most regular complaint by a person who has endured a bad candidate experience. Conversely when a candidate who loses out on a job is told why, that candidate can benefit from the experience in the long run and is given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. While it may end in disappointment, they can still respect the company’s professionalism and honesty throughout the recruitment process. And they may even perhaps still aspire to work for that company which has shown it’s self to be a great place to work.

Darragh McCarthy's picture
Associate Director