HR the Real Brand Experience


Share on LinkedIn

Update to this post…

It is August 2013 and a few things have changed in the realm of recruiting and candidate/customer experiences since 2011. The economy is reported as improving (although scores of professionals are still unemployed), technology has made advances, and the customer experience trend is now appropriately linked to employee experiences or the employee engagement trend.

Taleo (originally mentioned in this blog post) has added functionality to its application that allows a candidate to store a resume in a profile which slightly streamlines the candidate experience. As best as I can determine however, Taleo only allows one version of a resume and does not seem to allow multiple versions for targeted job applications. Sigh… seems things move slowly.

BUT, some things have not changed. Greg Savage, a credentialed and respected global recruiter, recently published a blog post that takes employers to task over how third party executive recruiters (and subsequently candidates) are being treated by employers. His commentary is timely.

And now, my original post. Enjoy… and consider offering your “candidate experience feedback” to employer HR teams who behave in ways that hurt you and their own brands.


During the course of my career, I have applied for new jobs due to the economy, internal politics, bubble bursts, company or leadership failures, and to advance myself professionally. Looking for a job is a never-ending job in and of itself; one that never ends whether you’re employed, not employed, or doing contract work.

HR departments’ poor treatment of candidates has hit an all time high. Candidates take this behavior with a rock of salt and as SOP while CxOs seem to think that HR departments simply exist to avoid lawsuits. So who cares?

I care and so should you. Why? Because every time someone applies for a job with your company, they have a brand experience (customer touch point) that will impact whether or not that applicant will buy from you, take you seriously enough to work for or with you, and/or tell the proverbial 7-10 other people in their network about any negative experiences they had. And actually, maybe that 7-10 people negative experience sharing statistic is no longer relevant now that we all have blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail distribution lists, and personal websites with followers. The old 7-10 number is probably now x 10,000.

And, if that multiple doesn’t scare you, how about the thought that recruiters no longer receive 100 resumes for every posted job opening. They now receive +1,000 resumes, so your exposure to negative brand experiences has now ratcheted up another x%.

The real question is whether a candidate’s experience applying for a job or working with a customer service team at any company is the REAL brand experience as compared to the slickly polished marketing and advertising images and messages that seem to be forwarded as THE brand.

The Taleo Experience

I have filled out countless Taleo powered on-line web application forms. You would think that Taleo would come up with a service that allows candidates to store virtual resumes to submit to multiple job postings or allow a link to LinkedIn to import needed information, but no. Candidates are required to fill out countless boxes ad nauseum, all in an effort to cull non-qualifying candidates for overwhelmed HR departments.

My experience of any company using Taleo is as follows:

  1. This company is rigid, can’t think, and is beaurocratic
  2. It’s more important to conform to what this company thinks it wants than to offer value for what it really needs (meaning that even if a candidate were hired, they would be suffocated with rules, policies, politics and siloed in-fighting).
  3. This company is in the death spiral of cutting costs no matter the impact, so no lasting employment can be gained there
  4. This company would prefer that an applicant waste his or her time trying to join and help them instead of making the application and probably the on-boarding process quick, easy, and seamless.
  5. Oh, and the gender and race questions at the end of every Taleo application form? Right… applicants are supposed to trust that this company isn’t screening for age, gender, race, or possible tax benefits when selecting candidates.

All of a sudden I am reminded of the 1960 movie “The Time Machine”, where fattened docile Eloi citizens were trained to go underground at the sound of a siren – which always announced a non-existent nuclear attack – eventually to be eaten by the Morlocks. But I digress…

Then the standard e-mail confirmation that the candidate’s application has been received and ‘someone’ will review it shortly. “We’ll only get back to you if you qualify.” Really? Would you ever say that to a prospect? We’ll only get back to you if you qualify, based on whether you have a PhD from Harvard, you fall neatly into the gender, age, race, tax deduction box, and you purchased at this dollar level for a similar product in the past?

Yes, I have told several of my friends of these negative experiences, I’m now blogging about this issue (but will of course not disclose company names), and as soon as this blog post is live I’ll Twitter the link to the post.

Will I buy from these companies in the future? Doubtful. There are too many alternatives in the market for any company to believe they are not a commodity.

This is either a massive fail or it’s really a reflection of that company’s true personality and brand.

The Sorry But E-mail

Once ‘someone’ reviews the candidate’s resume – whether submitted through Taleo or not – they might get a rejection e-mail. One could say that getting any response is good, but really? How does this impact your brand?

I love the standard rejection e-mail that says “We are impressed with your credentials but we are so lucky to have a lot of people applying, that we’ve chosen someone who better fits our needs.”

That’s laughable and here’s why. When candidates see that a company has re-posted the exact same job again, days or weeks after they receive your canned rejection e-mail, it makes that company look like a lying jerk. How can anyone trust a company or brand that lies to its own people, let alone to the market?

If the candidate were a prospect and you rejected selling to them because another prospect – who may or may not have better credentials than the original prospect has, or who has less to spend than the original prospect has – better fits your needs, wouldn’t the original prospect refuse to buy from you because of the stupid games you play? And wouldn’t they tell their networks about their negative experiences with you?

As most brands attempt to illicit a sense of integrity, this is either a massive brand-alignment failure or it’s exactly how any candidate will be treated after they get hired. Remember the old saying, all show and no go…

The Silent Treatment

Ah yes… the resume is sent, the candidate is interviewed once and maybe even twice, then the dreaded silence happens. Long drawn out silences that never end. The Black Hole of landing a fabulous, mutually beneficial job.

Once again, would you ever do this to a prospect or customer? If you did, as a service leader your career would be over in a nano second! Dropped or unresponded to prospect inquires are the death knell for any service or experience executive because that means lost revenue.

And what would prospects think or do if you never responded to their inquiries? They’d go somewhere else to buy what they need to achieve their goals. They’d never even think to inquire with your company again, they might place your company on an informal black list, and they’d tell their colleagues in the multiple networks that they live in about the negative experience.

What in the world are HR departments thinking when they do this? That they can’t be sued because they didn’t communicate with candidates? That candidates have short memories and won’t even remember they applied for the job? That the HR function is a separate entity from the rest of the organization? Do these jobs even exist or is this a way for HR departments to see if their own employees are trying to jump ship for a better job?

I strongly recommend that you and your company leadership take a critical look at how job applicants are treated and how that probably doesn’t align with your desired brand experience.

Have your CxOs send in job applications and watch how quickly this touch point gets addressed. It’s cheap, easy, and fast research at your finger tips right now.

Then, invest in your brand at ALL touch points, not just where a sales prospect can say yes or no.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here