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Employers, remember you are being assessed too

Marketers spend thousands each month promoting their companies. They hire advertising agencies and invest heavily on media placements. While all of this certainly does promote their brand, most of us will acknowledge that true brand success comes from word of mouth (WOM), the power of brand endorsement from customers.

The converse is that bad WOM can unravel years of marketing strategy. Ironically, often this negative “noise” is generated directly from the company’s very own HR department. How does this happen? Well, often, it’s quite simple. It is the hiring process.

While your company may spend millions on advertising and investing in a growth and expansion strategy, usually the HR departments are tasked with recruiting the talent to join the team. They may advertise directly or perhaps deal with recruitment agencies. In a highly competitive talent market, where urgency is key, they may choose to brief recruiters over the phone, without giving them an opportunity to get a full understanding of the company and the brand promise. Right there, the employer starts to lose. The fact is, they need to spend as much time with recruiters as they can, so that the recruiter has all the knowledge needed to act as the employer’s advocate in a competitive talent market.

We understand the viral nature of WOM advertising, so the potential for damage when a company advertises and uses a variety of recruiters is massive. Candidates who contact the HR department directly, or those who are referred through recruiters, will have first hand experience with the company and the brand. What’s more they are dealing with that brand at a vulnerable time. When looking for a new role, they will remember how they were treated over the phone and in person, and they will be very ready to tell others about the experience.

So, this week I was amazed when I sent a senior candidate through to interview with the HR Manager of a global brand (no small marketing budget here, I assure you), to receive the following response after the interview:

This has to be the worst interview of my life. The HR lady was so full of her own self-importance that she didn’t even take time to discuss my experience. In fact, she said so many inappropriate things I was speechless.

This candidate went on to give me astounding details about what was discussed during her meeting at the potential employer. In a nutshell, this HR Manager who had several years less experience than the candidate, had treated her so poorly and was so condescending the candidate decided, in the interview, that if this was how their staff were treated, the company was not for her.

Usually, when briefed on a new job by HR, I ask permission to chat directly to the line manager. Not because I don’t want to deal with HR, but it’s because the line manager is passionate about the brand, the company and often the role they are hiring for. The HR department can play an equally positive role in terms of gaining engagement from a new talent, but they also can do untold damage, not only turning a potentially great hire away, but also ensuring that the brand suffers as this person tells several friends about the bad experience, or worse still, tells their story on social media!

Hiring managers, be they line managers or HR, must remember that hiring is a two-way process. Yes, you are assessing the candidate, but remember they are judging you too! It’s critical to be mindful of punctuality, appropriate language, positive attitude, professional behaviour, passion for what they’re doing and for the brands they’ve worked on.

Remember a good candidate always has choice. And as the skills shortage begins to bite again, the ability of employers to showcase why working for them is a great career move, will be pivotal.

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