Avoid Hiring Pickle with Solid Employer Branding

Is it time for your recruiters to adopt the pickle principle? For the uninitiated, the pickle principle is the brainchild of former restaurant chain magnate Bob Farrell. It was his company’s signature for providing customer service that exceeds what’s expected – that “little something extra” that breeds a sense of brand loyalty.

As the story goes, Farrell received a letter from a repeat customer who always asked for, and received, an extra pickle free of charge.  The customer was pleased until the day the restaurant tried to charge him for the extra pickle. The man then fired off an angry letter vowing not to return to the restaurant “if that’s the way you’re going to run it.”  After reading the missive, Farrell made things right. Not only did he regain the customer’s trust, but Farrell used the free pickle metaphor as a way to win lifelong customers.

The concept behind the pickle principle has a direct application to recruitment. The impression you leave on candidates can last a lifetime – so be sure the experience is all it can be, from start to finish.  Just as consumers do, today’s job candidates associate a company’s recruiting practice with its branded products and services. In the era of always-on social media and websites like Glassdoor, unflattering portrayals about your recruitment experience live forever online, potentially hindering your ability to win topnotch talent in the future. Conversely, candidates who have a good recruiting experience are more likely to tell others, even if you don’t ultimately hire that person.

Poor recruiting stunts your company’s growth. A study by CareerBuilder of 5,000 job seekers and 2,000 hiring managers reveals that recruiting needs to be more than a formulaic process, instead encompassing a host of issues that have direct bearing on your employer brand.

Nearly 7 in 10 applicants said their experience during the application process strongly influences their decision to work for a company, yet most employers do a poor job of reciprocating a candidate’s interest.

CareerBuilder found that 42 percent expect to hear from an employer after submitting their resumes and 41 percent expect feedback if they aren’t selected for the position. Fully 25 percent want to be informed why an employer declines to offer an interview.  Yet only 17 percent of employers notified people why they weren’t chosen, suggesting there is wide room for improvement – particularly since nearly 6 in 10 candidates still believe it is their responsibility to send a post-interview “thank you” letter or email.

There is good reason to address this disconnect. CareerBuilder notes people will take a job with a lower salary if the employer brand has a solid reputation (83%), is highly rated by friends or colleagues (78%), created a great impression with its recruiting practices (77%), garners exceptional online reviews (73%) or generates positive press (69%).

On the flip side, failure to do post-interview follow-up prompts 65 percent of applicants to avoid the company’s products and services, signaling the direct link between employer brand and revenue.  Talent acquisition Software-as-a-Service provider iCIMS has also found similar findings.

Our view: put yourself in the candidates’ shoes and imagine how you would expect to be treated.  A sustainable employer brand transcends merely filling vacancies.  Time to fill may be the main course, but ongoing feedback and post-interview communication are the free pickles – they cost very little but do wonders to burnish your brand. When your employer brand is well-designed and consistently executed, candidates wind up with “something extra” that should, in the long run, help you avoid getting in a recruitment pickle.

What to Do About It

There are several things that can be done to strengthen your employer brand by aligning to consumer-driven branding. Here are just a few to consider.

  1. Develop an approach, or methodology, to strengthening your employer brand. Be sure, however, that your approach is deeply rooted in discovery as it’s critical to be authentic in employer brand development. You’ll find our approach to employer branding summary on this page. (see related links)
  2. Understand that there are different levels of working on your employer brand. You might be able to significantly improve your employer brand with a few simple tweaks. We’ve written a white paper on this topic. You’ll find it on this page. (see related links)
  3. Create a framework that encompasses all facets of your recruitment marketing program which will allow you to map out a course of action. Here’s ours. (see related links)

About the Author

N. Robert Johnson APR, Practice Leader, Workforce Communications

Bob Johnson has more than 20 years of corporate, agency and internal communications experience. He is currently leading The David Group's Workforce Communications Practice focused on strengthening employer brands, engaging people and cutting the cost of talent.

Email N. Robert

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