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Tips to stay in touch with job applicants

Digital applications, while convenient, call for quicker responses

Technology has changed so much in the last decade that the process of attracting and hiring candidates has almost exclusively moved online — from how candidates learn about your company’s positions and culture to the actual process of applying for a job. To benefit from these changes it is important to know what the advantages are and what mistakes you need to avoid. 

The foremost benefit is that with technology outreach, you’re able to connect with many more candidates. Anyone with a computer/mobile device is able to see your job posting — no matter where they live and with relatively little effort on their part. Potential candidates are able to apply at their leisure, from wherever they happen to be, whenever it is convenient for them. This also means you don’t have to deal with the interruption of candidate foot traffic that later leaves you with the arduous task of sorting through and interpreting handwritten responses. 

Another benefit of applying online is that candidates can quickly and easily access information about the position, your company and any expectations for the job, again without taking up valuable manager time. A well-designed career page will set your restaurant apart through education about your culture and why someone might fit with you and add value to your company’s objectives.

Despite the positives, there are some drawbacks to the online hiring process if actions are not taken to address them. For example, it is now much easier to be dismissive to candidates. Also, online applications don’t allow you to understand the person beyond their simple responses. In turn, you may struggle to communicate with them, understand their abilities, or treat them in a way that is consistent with your values. As a result, candidate expectations of the process may end up being inconsistent with what you actually do. 

Potential employees expect follow up after applying. According to CareerBuilder.com, 82 percent expect to hear back regardless of whether or not the prospective employer is interested, and they expect an opportunity to “show” who they are and how they can perform. As a result, you must address these new challenges that have the potential to hurt your brand and business due to a mismatch in what you are doing and what candidates expect. 

For example, nearly one-third (32 percent) of workers said they would be less inclined to purchase products or services from a company that didn’t respond to their application. Conversely, 69 percent of job seekers say they are more likely to buy from a company THAT treated them with respect during the application process.

So where does your restaurant fall? Can candidates easily find information about working for you? Are you treating your applicants with respect? Do you give them a chance to share who they are and what they can do? 

Here are some tips to get you on the right track:

• Create automated communication. While this is frequently available, it is rarely used. A simple thank-you email that confirms the receipt of an application and notifies candidates what to expect can go a long way. Also, once you’ve decided to not move forward with a candidate, let them know. This is the number one complaint candidates have about current hiring practices — they never hear anything back.

• Make your communication personable. For those that use automated communication, they rarely update it to reflect their brand. Tweak templates to reflect your organization’s personality and connect with the receiver. Don’t be too proud to think that you aren’t also auditioning for the employee.

• Reiterate the steps in the hiring process. Share what to expect multiple times. By setting simple and clear expectations, you can ensure the candidate feels respected and understands what to do. If you set up an appointment, provide follow up confirming the day/time/location and what to do when the candidate arrives.

• Use hiring assessments. Candidates want to be able to show you what they can do and what abilities they have. If a process doesn’t give a candidate an opportunity to share with you more than their resume, you are missing an opportunity to learn more about them and allow the candidate to feel like they had a chance to shine.

• Always follow up and close the loop. It is easy to brush off candidates once you’ve filled your position. Realize that follow up is time well spent and an important part of the process. You never know when you may encounter this candidate again. Who knows? You might decide to hire them down the road.

Use these tips as a starting point to make your hiring process more communicative while proactively growing your brand with prospective employees who could also become future customers.

James Ringler is director and senior consultant with Corvirtus’ Consulting Solutions.

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