Hiring is Marketing

Essay published on January 27, 2014

What’s it like to apply for a job in your company?

More importantly, when applicants don’t fit your requirements for whatever reason, what is their last impression of your company?

Hiring is marketing. It’s a brand impression, a rather formative one at that, and getting the person you want shouldn’t be the only priority. You should also be optimizing for a wonderful applicant experience.

Although most every technology company is hiring, it’s difficult to fill a role. In many cases there are hundreds of applications for every yes. As a result, it’s easy to become complacent, maybe even arrogant, in your pursuit of “rock stars.”

While it's necessary to shrug off applications by the dozen for any variety of reasons, it's rather unnecessary to make any applicant feel inferior or insulted by the process.

I’d like to make a suggestion. Every no should get a personal note telling them it didn’t work out. You don’t have to say exactly why (for legal reasons I suggest you don’t), but you should communicate with them as though they are a potential customer.

Why a personal note is worth your time

The applicant could be a customer someday. In fact, they could interview for the job again someday and be much more qualified. Furthermore, when a “rock star” asks them what it was like interviewing with your company, they will have nothing but great things to say.

Yesterday I followed my own advice and sent personal emails to roughly 280 applicants we’ve had for a customer champion (support) position at Help Scout. Thanks to Help Scout’s manual workflows, it only took me about 10 minutes. 😊 This is what it said:


Thanks so much for applying for the Customer Champion position at Help Scout. We sincerely appreciate the time you put into the application.

Unfortunately, your application didn’t make it to the next round of our search. We’ve had tons of interest and it was really hard narrowing down the field. We’re sorry it didn’t work out this time, but we wish you all the best in your search for a great customer support position!

In the last 24 hours, I’ve recieved 25+ replies expressing heartfelt gratitude for my communication. This leads me to believe these individuals don’t get a personal no very often.

Here are just a couple of the notes I received:

Thank you for letting me know! That is huge and not too many people take the time to do it. Good luck in your search and with the company.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to inform me that I didn’t make it to the next round. Although I am disappointed, I appreciate the feedback.

I don’t say this to pat myself on the back, but to underscore the importance of communication as part of the hiring process.

Once someone has spent time in-person with us, we get more specific in terms of feedback and why it didn’t work out. In any case, we expect every no to get a personalized response and a thank you for their time.

In your pursuit of talented people to join your team, please don’t forget that you are representing the brand in all of your dealings with candidates. It’s marketing just like any other touch point, and every individual should walk away feeling more impressed with your company than before.

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