In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher shares why the hiring process and application submission are missed opportunities for organizations to make a great first impression.
Inspired by a recent conversation with author Joey Coleman, Russel highlights the importance of taking the hiring process more seriously as the first step in an employee's journey and their impression with us as employers. He shares some areas to reassess so that we can put our best foot forward for current and future applicants.
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Welcome to Relationships At Work – the leadership guide to creating a workplace we love. I’m your host Russel Lolacher
I’m a communications and leadership nerd with a couple of decades of experience and a heap of curiosity on how we can lead and work together to improve the employee experience. This show is a great resource to help us with that.
Every week on the show, I talk with a local or global leader on topics that are help to you to improve the workplace. We’ve tackled so man topics: negativity, culture renovation, plain language, imposter syndrome, diversity, communication, empathy, activism, burnout, mental health, and so many other topics.
And now, as an added bonus, I’ll be sharing an additional episode pulled from the pages of our weekly R@W Note which you can subscribe to.
A quick and valuable bit of information on top of our regular show.
So the R@W Note I’m passing on to you this week, is called…
That Application is the First Impression
When organizations first start discussing the employee journey and the employee experience...where do they typically begin?
Onboarding? That first performance review? Or maybe they don’t discuss the journey or experience at all?
Let’s assume they at least talk about it. I want to be optimistic. Ok, so assuming that they do, onboarding is usually the answer. But the problem is most organizations are missing a huge opportunity.
We often miss where employees and prospective employees really start their interaction with the organization - the application and hiring experience.
That’s the beginning of the journey.
For good or for bad, when someone applies to work for us, that's when they get the sense of how organized, considerate, pro-active and reactive we are as a company. Before anyone sits down on day one, they already have an impression of how much you care about them and their time. Which, of course, gives them an impression of what it’s like to work for us.
Let’s take one step in that journey: The resume submission. How easy is the website to navigate? Is it clear as to what is needed from the applicant? How clear is the job description? How quickly and patiently are applicants are responded to for any questions they have?
This doesn’t even get into the thoughtfulness and compassion of the hiring panel, how they are informed when they get the job, or if they are informed at all if they don't. And what is the tone of that response? Does it encourage them to apply again?
A CareerBuilder study found that 60% of job seekers reported quitting an online application process because it was too long or complicated.
This kind of experience flavours everything for those who won the competition and also flavours the word of mouth for those who don't win.
So let’s do better. Through the whole process. An upcoming guest of the podcast, Joey Coleman, wrote in his book “How to Never Lose an Employee Again”…
“You must demonstrate what their life will be like as an employee”
Joey digs deep into areas we need to focus on. For example: Job posting need to be transparent about expectations. The application process should be easy. Pre-screening should be more about fit than skills (which you can teach later). The interview should be more about getting to know the candidate as a person, their personality, nature, temperament. Which is more valuable than a series of canned answers to familiar interview questions.”
Here are a few things to flag and assess:
1. Transparency – Make sure there are clear job descriptions and titles to give applicants confidence in what they are applying for. Make sure they have all the information they need. No surprises.
2. Communication – make sure it’s clear, transparent, personalized and timely. And kind. We should treat applicants like individuals, not numbers, and respecting their time too. Applying for a job can be very vulnerable for applicants.
3. Feedback – we’re always encourage to ask for feedback if we weren’t successful. Organizations need to ask applicants for feedback about their experience too. This can’t be one way. How else can we get better at making first impressions, and meeting needs and expectations?
I love the idea of treating candidates like valued customers. Like a relationship you want to make, build and maintain.
So lets make that first impression in the employee experience a priority for our organizations and a positive one for applicants.
We far too often cater the experience only for us, not for them. And that’s never the best way to start any relationship.
Stealing from a shampoo commercial from the 80s, "you don't get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression."