5 Ways to Protect Your Employer Brand by Closing the Loop with Candidates
recruiter closing candidate loop

5 Ways to Protect Your Employer Brand by Closing the Loop with Candidates

Are you familiar with the term “ghosting?” Well for those of you who have never heard the term, it’s when someone suddenly stops communicating with you without an explanation. This happens a lot in today's online dating world, but it can also happen in the recruiting world. In today's competitive talent market, many companies (including Salesforce) have teams of recruiters reaching out to prospective candidates and sometimes, after a few interactions and for whatever reason, it doesn't work out. How a company handles that decision point can have a lasting impact on its brand.

How we identified closing that loop as a key recruitment strategy

In November of 2015, Salesforce began an initiative to make our candidate experience best in class in an effort to ensure we were positioned to secure the top talent and protect our brand as we rapidly grow our company. We started with data, and as we combed through our Interview Review data on Glassdoor, we saw a lot of positive feedback on things that were going right with our process, but in reviews from the candidates who gave us a negative overall rating, one thing kept coming up, and that thing was ghosting.

Now, we love Glassdoor, but we wanted to confirm what we were seeing there with our own data. When we looked at this issue in our internal Candidate Experience Survey, we were able to confirm that some candidates were self-reporting that we had not closed the loop with them – they didn't receive a final status after interacting or interviewing with us.

How we implemented change

The data was telling us that this lack of communication of final status was one of the top issues impacting candidate experience, so we put together a plan to prevent “ghosting” and ensure all candidates have a positive experience:

  1. Set clear expectations. Our SVP of Global Recruiting Ana Recio sent a loud and clear message to her team that the expectation moving forward is that “no one gets ghosted at Salesforce.” The bar is now set that everyone who phone screens and/or interviews with us gets respectfully closed out. Calls are the preferred method and the expected standard.
  2. Give recruiters tools. We worked with our legal team on rejection guidance to arm our recruiters with best practices and do’s and don’ts for crafting personalized and useful calls to close out unsuccessful candidates. We also put together email templates for our recruiters to use as a last resort for closing out candidates if they can't be reached by phone. It’s not ideal, but an email is better than getting no follow up at all.
  3. Get the information from interviewers that you need to provide meaningful feedback to the candidate. We now request that in addition to hire/no hire decisions, all interviewers provide high-quality feedback on the reasons why they decided not to make a hire and also what the candidate could do to improve their chances of being considered for the role in the future. Providing meaningful feedback closes out the relationship in a more meaningful way.
  4. Measure and report out on how teams/recruiters are doing. We are measuring ghosting on our Candidate Experience Survey, and we regularly report out on which teams are excelling and which teams are lagging when it comes to closing the loop, down to the team/recruiter level. We celebrate those who are excelling and work to better enable those that need improvement.
  5. Make it a team goal. All recruiting leaders at Salesforce have a goal to reduce their team's ghosting percentage on their annual goal plan.

How it's impacted candidate experience and our employer brand

We believe a candidate's experience during the recruiting process can leave a lasting impression of an employer and as a company they might do business with, so we want to make sure it's a good one.

Since implementing these changes we've seen solid improvements on the final status question in our own internal Candidate Experience Survey, and comments about ghosting in our Interview Reviews on Glassdoor have almost disappeared. Thanks to our efforts to close the loop, and all of our other efforts to improve Candidate Experience, we've seen improvements in our overall positive interview experience ratings, as well as decreases in overall negative experience.

Then what? An optimal candidate experience is just the first step. Once you’ve made an offer and it’s been accepted, a proper onboarding program is a comprehensive way to get new employees fully immersed. To set the tone for a high level of engagement, it’s critical to get the onboarding process just right, which means being buttoned up and prepared at every key stage.

Download Glassdoor’s exhaustive New Hire Onboarding Checklist for clear action plans on how best to prep new hires from the minute your candidate signs and one week prior to start date – to first day, first week and beyond.

About the Author: Jennifer Johnston is Head of Global Employer Branding & Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce. She has 20 years of marketing experience and almost a full decade of experience using culture plus social and mobile technologies to attract, onboard, develop and deeply engage employees.