How PR Pros Can Help Their Brand’s Job Application Process

As communicators, often we find ourselves in reactive mode protecting the brand. But what positive things can we do with a few minutes to be proactive? One might be to assess whether your brand is delivering a quality job-candidate experience or is damaging its reputation.

Sometimes that just requires visiting other areas to see how they interact with job applicants or current customers and offering to help in the spirit of collaboration. One place you might want to look is how H.R. treats job applicants. Does the experience of job seekers align with what you’re saying in sales and marketing materials?

As a prospective candidate, I suspect many senior leaders might be dismayed by how people who want to work for their company are treated. Do applicants to your company hear anything after an initial contact? Are they left to wonder where they fell short?

Under Armour acknowledges that its application takes a long time to fill out and then thanks candidates with a discount code for 35% off a store purchase. I don’t know what the conversion rate is, but it certainly gets the process off to a good start.

Why is this important to your brand? 41% of job candidates who had a negative experience say they will take their alliance, product purchases and relationships to another company, according to the North American Candidate Experience 2016 Research Report by Talent Board, a San Francisco nonprofit.

By comparison, 64% of candidates who had a positive experience with a prospective employer say they will expand their relationships with the company. Talent Board surveyed 183,000 candidates (most of whom were not hired) who applied to positions at more than 240 companies.

Below are ways corporate communications and marketing teams can help align HR with the company’s brand message:

Walk in the applicant’s shoes. Fill out the online application yourself. Better, have several staff members do so. Assess the performance of your software vendor and the importance of the information being collected. Once a candidate has uploaded her resume, does she really need to input all that information again? Do you request references before you’ve reviewed the application or do you wait until a candidate is in serious contention? The second option is more respectful of those who provide references.

Review the computer-generated letters sent to applicants and make sure they reflect your brand message. I’ll never forget that day when a friend of the CEO forwarded him a bad one. I soon had 1,400 letters on my desk and seven days to make them "friendlier."

Notification: Think about your audience and how it is coping with process of waiting for notification from the brand. For whatever percentage are out of work, not knowing can be worse than being rejected. Are you letting applicants know if the position is put on hold? This is the time of year that job openings sometimes are delayed until new budgets kick in January 1. How do you feel when you pitch a story to a media outlet and don’t hear anything? The job process is far worse.

Provide a general timeline for the consideration process. Does your company send a brief e-mail that outlines when you expect to start looking at applications and your goal for a start date? Do you provide updates?

Check the metrics. Your e-commerce unit monitors abandon rates for shopping carts. Does HR monitor how many candidates begin an application but never complete it? Does H.R. reach out to find out why? Is there a feedback process? Perhaps you can help HR by offering to supply questions that incorporate a brand perspective.

In sum, marketing and PR is about creating customers as well as removing the friction people feel when they interact with your brand. Job seekers talk to each other and their families and many of them live online. They are going to wonder what it’s like to work at your company if you can’t even show them some love when you’re trying to attract them as employees. And what will they say about your company long after the position is filled-by them or someone else?

Peter Osborne is founder of Friction-Free Communications. Contact him at: