From “ATS” to “CRS”: Building a strong employment brand
The sign on the side of the building said, “Now hiring, 2nd and 3rd shifts … inquire inside.” My son, who was looking for a part-time evening job over the summer to go along with a three-day-a-week internship he had landed with a financial services firm, decided to apply. The local manufacturing company was looking for both part-time and full-time warehouse help to load trucks. On the surface it seemed like the perfect fit:close to home, part-time, 2nd shift, decent pay. My son was excited to apply and hopeful he could land a job there to help pay for his college expenses coming up in the fall. I of course shared his enthusiasm for finding a way to pay a larger share of his tuition bill and asked him to call me after he applied to let me know how it went.
As he approached front door of the company he was nervous and excited all at once; anxious to speak to the hiring manager and show them he was a hard worker who would do a great job.
As he walked into the company, he right away noticed a flurry of activity. The receptionist at the front desk was on the phone and three people were waiting in line at her desk. As he looked around, he saw other people seated in the room filling out applications. There were no chairs left to sit in and the receptionist was still on the phone. After a few minutes the receptionist finally got off the phone and with a frazzled expression asked if she could help the next person in line. Appropriately the whole process took on a manufacturing feel as she handed out applications to everyone in line with basic instructions to fill it out and hand it back in. When asked if she had a pen for someone to use, her answer was a curt, “No, sorry!”
As he filled out the application he observed others going up and turning theirs in. Each would ask what the next steps were and each was told in a dismissive manner that someone would call them. Not a lot of warmth or energy. Her style left people feeling as if they were bothering her, as if she was doing them all a favor by allowing them to apply for a job there. It was clear to my son that all she cared about was getting people “processed.” While this was going on, a parade of other employees continued to walk by, gawking at the swelling crowd of applicants in the lobby. They seemed amused by the commotion, but not one stopped to help their struggling co-worker.
Not exactly a positive experience for the applicants.
My son left without turning in his application and instead got a job working at a rental center setting up large tents for weddings and parties. He has probably told this story a dozen times, naming the offending company each time he retold the story. By now dozens have heard about the shabby way this company treats applicants. Unfortunately, in an instant, the company managed to zap the energy and enthusiasm from each person applying for a job that day. Everyone who has heard my son’s story, or stories from the other applicants, likely has a less than favorable image of this company. While clearly they did not intend to act in a way that would harm their image, they succeeded at creating a very poor employment brand in the eyes of all the applicants they interacted with … at least that day.
Obviously this is not the way to build a great employment brand or be seen as a great place to work.
The recruiting process truly is your first and best opportunity to show off who you are as an employer. First impressions DO matter and how you interact with those seeking to join your company tells people a lot about your brand, your values and how they can expect to be treated inside your four walls.
Many times we see clients only focused on the process of recruitment and utilizing technology like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to streamline and better manage applicants. That is certainly important, but we believe every touch point is an opportunity to sell your brand. Approaching your process through the eyes of the applicant and asking what impressions you want someone to have at every intersection they share with you is a critical step toward building a great employment brand.
HR technology should help you create a great applicant engagement process and, ultimately, a great employment brand. In the future, the ability to interact at a higher level of mutual value to both candidates you hire, as well as those you don’t, will determine how people perceive your brand.
We believe it is time to go from ATS to CRS, Candidate Relationship System.
How is your employment brand perceived in the places you compete for top talent? If you are not implementing strategies to build strong employment branding you are falling behind!