Have you experienced getting a job rejection at a position you have applied for? Most people have. And unfortunately, most people have also experienced a really bad rejection. In itself, it can be disappointing enough to be rejected. However, the tummy tuck can feel even harder if it is in a disrespectful and junky way.
And it's not just about job seekers, but also about companies' ability to attract customers and skilled labor. According to a study from Talentegy 54% of job seekers believe that a negative recruitment experience affects their desire to be a customer of the company in the future. The same survey shows that 69% of job seekers who have a negative experience rarely, or never, will apply again. An application is not just a piece of paper. It's a human being. A potential customer, business partner, ambassador or future employee. And you must treat them that way.
At Statum, we were well aware of this. Although our primary function is to match candidates with companies, we still have a huge role to play in relation to the candidate's recruitment process. Therefore, we sat down to improve our own rejection process and to ensure the good experience of the candidates, whether they got the job or not. We initiated surveys, talked to companies and graduates, and became far wiser. In this post, we will take you on the journey, and explain to you how to give your applicants a bold experience, even if you have to offer the job to someone else. The rejected individuals may reappear as customers, suppliers, future applicants, business partners, or a combination of all of them. Either way, they have spent time and energy on you, so you owe it to them to spend it too.
But what is it then that makes a job rejection perfect?
We asked ourselves that back in March 2020. The first thing we did was turn the question around and ask, “what gives the bad job rejection?”. To answer that, we set up an internship as'Talent Rejection Evangelist ‘. We were looking for a peerson who had experience of being rejected. And not just once, but far too many times. One who had been through all the types of shot-application processes and thus experienced first-hand what the bad rejection looked like. The plan was to dedicate the internship to one purpose; that we should get much better at our rejections.
To our annoyance, we received many relevant applications. Of course, it's nice to get lots of qualified candidates, but that also said something about the attitude of other companies. We came in contact with really many candidates who told about one bad and unfounded rejection after another. This was undoubtedly an area where there was room for improvement.
After a lengthy process, we landed on two candidates; Sif and Martin. Sif says that she applied for the position because “there was someone who could see a problem that I myself had thought about. I was curious why companies do not feel a greater responsibility towards us job seekers.”
For Sif and Martin, it was obvious that the answers had to be found among job seekers. Therefore, they arranged a focus group interview where they could talk to job seekers and obtain real-life views. Here they talked about everything from bad and good examples of rejection, whether it should be writing, video, or a call. It involved various forms of feedback, processes and, not least, how the value of the rejection affects the relationship and attitude towards the company.
Before we started, we had an idea that it could be an opportunity to send the rejection as a video and thereby give a more personal expression, as well as targeted feedback. During the interview, the reactions were different. Overall, people were positive and liked the format. Yet there were also a few who hesitated and felt that it did not suit the target group. For a 50-year-old interview participant, it appeared a little unprofessional with a young woman giving feedback. It may have more value for a younger person who is new to the job market than one with several years of experience.
In parallel with Sif and Martin's interview, the idea of video rejection was investigated further. Match Manager at Statum, Amalie Dupond Holdt, initiated a project in collaboration with a sales company. They were chosen because they wanted to do better with their rejections and often got a large amount of applicants, which is why there was a larger data base. “We tested on a single job posting, where 50 applicants received video rejections and 50 received standard. And then we got feedback, to get a feel for the difference and the experience that both rejections contribute to. ” tells Amalie.
After giving the rejections, we were able to gather feedback and form an overview of the potential for rejections over video. It undoubtedly had an effect on the recipients. Unfortunately, we did not get as much response to the standard rejections as we could have wished, which is why it is difficult to comment on the experience of them. What we can comment on, however, is the great response we received to our video rejection. Here is an excerpt of the feedback:
- “Thank you very much for your time and your words – I will definitely take them with me ”.
- “Thank you very much for the in-depth refusal. This is the first time I have had such a refusal commented on ”.
- “How cool a system you have! Thank you very much for the feedback ”.
- “Thank you so much for the video. It feels much more personal“.
Although the feedback was generally good, it was not smooth. Especially the production of the videos was resource intensive, and took about 10 min. per job discount. Therefore, it was hard to conclude that videos were a golden solution, but we clearly got the feeling that we had hit something right. When we combined the results of the test with those of the interviews, it became clear to us what the real challenge is when it comes to rejections.
It's about the process – and not just the rejection
The basic thing that our studies, and in particular the interviews, taught us is that it is about the process. The reason we got such good feedback on the videos was more about people feeling heard and respected than the videos themselves. It dawned on us that the perfect job rejection is not necessarily a matter of video, feedback, written or non-written, but of the way it is done. It is just as much about giving applicants a respectful and professional experience, from start to finish.
Are you honest? Do you provide regular updates and keep in touch with the candidates? Do you answer when they ask questions? When the application is sent off, a clearly communicated and transparent process, as well as quick processing can provide so much clarification and thus peace of mind in the candidate. It does not require much from you as a company, but is a world of difference for the applicants.
It can be hard enough in advance to be a job seeker. Being without a job and getting one rejection after another. You go from excitement over finding a great job posting to excitement when applying for the position. Then to the slow disappointment that grows with each week you do not hear from the company. After several weeks of waiting and uncertainty, you will receive a standard email that says; “Unfortunately, we have to inform you that we have moved on with other candidates.“It is like salt in the wound that the time and energy the candidates spend on applying for a job is not reciprocated in the slightest. So if you are a business and want to give better rejections, then the recipe for the perfect job rejection is as follows:
In fact, do not focus too much on the rejection itself. Instead, aim for the perfect process. Take your applicants by the hand from start to finish. Do not let the decision drag on. Give the candidates a proper job rejection, preferably with constructive feedback, as soon as you have made a decision. Or at least offer a channel where the candidate can get constructive feedback. If you run a proper process, people will come again, such as customers, partners, ambassadors or future employees.
How can we help?
In itself, the perfect process is not a big resource-heavy task. It does not require you to spend +10 minutes extra per application. Still, it can seem overwhelming, and we want to help with that. The whole project started as an internal study where we wanted to improve our own rejections. But we quickly realized that we are not alone in this challenge. There are also many other companies that do.
Are you one of those who would like to do even better and hear more about our findings? Then you can contact Match Manager, Amalie Dupond Holdt, at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have rejected candidates, you will probably also need to hire someone? If you are hiring a salesperson, you should take a look at our employment contract template specifically designed for salespeople.
If you have been forced to exclusively do job rejections and therefore lack inspiration for recruiting more salespeople – then you should look here.