Listen to the Rejections, Demos & FaceBook episode at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts.
The Candidate Experience Podcast is hosted by Chuck Solomon at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts. A transcription of this interview is available below.
Together with his guests, Chuck who is on the team at LineHire, discuss the good, bad and ugly of the candidate journey. With emphasis on helping companies by improving their employer brand.
Chris Russell joins as my special guest in this Rejections, Demos and FaceBook episode where we discuss ways to improve the job candidate experience.
You’ll want to listen carefully to how Chris unpacks why companies should revamp their candidate rejection process.
If you like what you hearing on this podcast please subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts and do share with others. Thanks for listening and here’s my interview.
Chuck Solomon 0:00
Chris, how did you get into this whole recruiting industry?
Chris Russell 0:03
So yeah, I have an interesting kind of history. And I’ll get into all this. So going way back in the way back in the day back in the in the mid 90s, I guess I was moonlighting as a resume writer. After after graduating college I was at a marketing degree I always kind of was was kind of a big on personal marketing overall, as far as a career goes. So I started doing some, some resume writing for friends, things like that. It’s kind of where I first got my feet wet. And then back in 1989, I was working at a web design company, I’ve been doing web design stuff for a couple years. Started out it’s actually at Gartner. Stanford, Connecticut. Working on their website is kind of where I got the bug for for so the internet as well. And this web design firm that we were working at, that was kind of a project manager there. And we had a client who was a staffing firm, and that staffing firm needed a website need the ability to post jobs, and edit those jobs on his website. And that’s where all this kind of got started for me. I did that project, I helped get that site launched. And almost immediately, I started thinking about my own job board in terms of the side business I could I could do. So I’m reading. There’s a great magazine back then called Business 2.0, if you remember that one.
Chuck Solomon 1:28
Chris Russell 1:28
But I remember reading an article about how some of the job boards at the time like monster and it was techies. com they were creating these little niche sites off of their main ones like cartoon techies calm and I was like, Oh, you know what, I think I could start a local site for where I live in Connecticut in Fairfield County. And so I do love researching, I got my domain name settled. And having just kind of worked on that project. Originally for job postings. I sit on the million dollar job board for Fairfield County, Connecticut. That’s summer, I basically went home at night, like coded it up at in ASP pages on my own. And I launched my first job board back in September of 1999. Right during the.com, boom days.
Chuck Solomon 2:14
Right. I remember.
Chris Russell 2:15
It was a tiny on my side as well. I had a few friends and HR, they basically signed out right away. I got some press in the paper, I started doing radio ads and the things to start taking off. Much to my surprise. So I was still working for about two years. And now finally, when the dot bomb hit, I got laid off, of course, but by that time, I basically built the site into a second income. And so I just said heck with it. I’m just going to work on this thing from my house. And the rest is history essentially. So I built that site into a 20 site, local network or but for the Northeast basically all with a county focus so Fairfield county jobs, Hartford County jobs.com, all different kinds. He’s in the area and ran that for about 13 years built it up into a six figure business kind of lifestyle business, will you please, a longer way but family commitments worked out of my house and learned a lot about online recruiting. during that timeframe. I started do some writing about it and sort of get contacted by other job board owners on how to improve their boards and things like that. So that’s where all this got started was back in 1999 was my first job boards I put up online after working on a project for a staffing firm. And so I’ve lived love this stuff Chuck it’s just it’s in my blood. I love helping people get jobs. And it’s something that I’m really passionate about overall. Now, once they sold the business, I had noticed rock star career cloud, which kind of focused on social resumes and things like Facebook’s API. I would never couple years but you shut it down because Facebook kind of cut off their API access to all stuff which kind of share with my business plans there.
Chuck Solomon 4:04
That’s not just you, Chris. Yeah, those open API’s that end up being closed or limited API’s and up squashing a number of businesses out there.
Chris Russell 4:16
Yeah, totally. I had a great product called jazz with friends. And it basically would pull in your Facebook friends, it would then match up jobs where they work and help you get introduced to the jobs through that friend, which I thought was a great it was a great referral tool.
Chuck Solomon 4:29
Chris Russell 4:30
And then Facebook is ruined it on me. So it’s like, you know, I with I knew Zuckerberg, I would have given him a piece of my mind. But anyway, after that I sold it.
Chuck Solomon 4:42
You still can, you you have my permission to, I think he has, he probably doesn’t bigger fish to fry.
Chris Russell 4:51
Actually, I quoted in the Wall Street Journal about all that stuff, because they did a piece on how Facebook just kind of turns back on developers like that. Ruins other people’s plans, I guess what?
Chuck Solomon 5:01
Chris Russell 5:02
I digress. So then I sold off the essence of career cloud couple years ago, and I became a corporate recruiter as well. I always do writing a lot about recruiting and attracting talent online. I never want to be accused of not being practitioner. So basically, after I sold curriculums curricula for close to a cloud, I became a couple recruiter for a software company and then a cruise line here in Connecticut, kind of get my feet wet, dived into that. Really enjoyed the work didn’t like the companies I work for. But learn late, no, just one to get my, my feet in in that arena as well. And I learned a lot there as well. And once I left that gig about three and half years ago, I decided to go with myself again. And launched right take media around that. So that’s kind of my journey today. Basically, my job is like, I guess I call myself a digital recruiting expert Chuck where I basically I’m educating recruiters and employers on the latest and greatest technologies. I do a lot of writing and be able to podcasting and webinars really trying to educate and inform the industry as a whole. Along the way, here. So that’s, that’s kind of my story so far.
Chuck Solomon 6:14
Well, interesting story. And did I hear you correctly? You said you, you you’re actually really technical? Like you said, I coded up some ASP pages and stuff. So you’re, you’re you’re you’re highly technical person.
Chris Russell 6:29
I’m a tech guy, right? You know, code. Not much of a coder. many more days are buying me But yeah, I’ve done things like you know, install a ATS is that companies, I took my last employer from Taleo to iCimms, I assume that project entirely by myself about six weeks, with a lot of help from the iCimms tech support line, but yeah, I understand technology pretty well how to leverage ahead and install it. job or technologies? Well, I still set up a number of job boards for companies today as well. And so yeah, it’s something that I’m I love to, to work on, really kind of, so I can have my I have the marketing side of me, and I have the tech side of me. So I think is too good skill to have. But she you know, recruiting overall, that’s for sure. Most recruiters today are just very technically challenged. And it’s hard for them to grasp a lot of this stuff. So I see it is my job to help bridge that gap of it, if you will.
Chuck Solomon 7:24
What would you say? Because I hear this from I hear this a lot. I hear, you know, there’s so many, you know, current tech tools and things available. And there’s always new ones coming on the horizon. But like what would you say to like, talent acquisition director of HR director that said, Hey, I just don’t have any enough time to do all these demos? And what would you say to a person like that?
Chris Russell 7:52
I would say, I think if you’re serious about the candidate experience and and you know how you track talent, I think you have, you have to basically make time to do that.
It’s changing so rapidly now. And I think now, especially the next generation of candidates out there, you know, the Gen Z, the millennials, whatever you want to call them, truly expect good technology, when they’re applying to your company getting on board and all that stuff, right? They VC that as a way to as a differentiator, right, overall. So if you’re not serious about kind of improving that, that apply process, and then onboarding process itself, I mean, then I think you’re going to be as an organization be left behind the companies, they do care about it. Overall, I just had just had Gerry Crispin on my podcast talking about the candidate experience and how important that is, right. And technology can certainly help. As far as that goes, you know, shutting, you know, minimizing the time it takes to apply on line, sort of the core, to me, one of the core principles of a good candide experience overall, Gone are the days of, you know, 20 minutes surveys, you got to fill in, in order to you know, get your resume submitted on their right to chance to do not want that they’re just going to abandon it. And so it’s something that I think you have to really embrace as a TA leader today.
Chuck Solomon 9:16
I totally agree with you. I think. I think and I actually I did a survey about this in 2018, I did a survey about 30 HR directors at pretty sizable companies, most of them are more Fortune 1000 sized, and I aked, what is your biggest challenge around hiring and finding talent? And number one answer with like an 85% response rate had some iteration of having to deal with sales people. Whether it be an on us sort of the broadest sense of sales, people having to deal with HR tech vendors having to deal with recruiting agencies trying to sell their services, having to deal with, like, background checking services, trying to pitch their services, but I don’t know if there’s a if there’s a so that was enlightening to me that that’s what they stated, yes, their highest concern. And at that, I know, we’re at 3.8% unemployment today. But you know, unemployment was probably like 5%, still pretty low. When I did the survey and, and very small percentage said, Yeah, just getting a hold of talent that they my response level respondents said, you know, basically, contrary to what you said is, you know, you’re saying people, HR people should spend the time and find the time to, to demo things. And these folks who are saying they can’t be bothered. So I’m with you, Chris, I think they need to be bothered, they need to make time that’s left behind.
Chris Russell 11:11
I have a couple of tips around that. So sure, number one, like, you know, if you don’t have anybody technical on your staff, you know, find somebody on your IT department and bring them over and let them listen to them, these demo calls and they can kind of call BS when they probably hear it. Right. Right? If they’re if they’re if the salesperson is talking tech stuff, use them as kind of a, you know, interpreter, if you will. The second thing would be going to Facebook, there are a lot of good Facebook groups like like Talent Product Plays, we actually just post questions that has anybody use this tool, right, you’ll get some actually honest feedback from people out there in the wild, who are using some of this stuff. There’s a there’s a whole book is a pretty big community of recruiters on Facebook, who we’re talking to each other, and kind of comparing notes with different technologies out there. So the information is out there, if you want it, you know, which takes some time and effort to go and do the research. And again, get involved.
Chuck Solomon 12:01
Yeah, no great tips for that. So I, I really want to get into, you know, our topic for today. Which is really, you know, you had suggested it, and I appreciate you bringing it to me, because I think it’s an important topic and it and it, it totally, it totally speaks to the candidate journey. And what you came to, you know, came to me with the topic of, you know, why employers need to revamp their whole rejection process. So I’m hoping, you know, the way I look at it is, is, you know, 100 people who are going to apply to a job, perhaps, or more, and only one is going to get it, you know, what do you do the remainder? 99? I don’t know. So I’m hoping you can you help shed some light on on this topic for us on that.
Why do employers need to revamp their rejection process?
Chris Russell 13:01
I think the short answer is, it’s your chances as an employer to leave a good lasting impression with that candidate. Overall, right. So especially if you’re things like a consumer business, you could be turning away customers, as well, through this kind of bad experience, sharing a lot of research on just projecting out getting rejected out there, I probably apply to, you know, 50 jobs in the past six months, as part of this. And I’d say only about half of the companies actually ever sent me a rejection notice. So number one, that’s the first problem or their companies have today aren’t even set telling they’re not even closing the loop with the candidate. And so that’s why cancer pitching so much about this keynote, this resume black hole, right? Right. If you can’t take the time to send a rejection notice, whenever that is to a candidate, you’re basically you’re wasting their time, pressure, they’re sitting there wondering, okay, what’s going on? Right? You could be pulling your job search back many, many, many cans will apply to a job, think they’re really qualified for it. And wait and wait and wait. And kind of they’re trying to they’re hoping that you know, they might, you might contact them. So if it’s going to slow their job search, they’re going to stop applying and places until they hear from you. And so to me as as an employer, I think you owe it to the candidates to give them a yes or no, as soon as possible. Number one, right here, I think it has to be could are part of the candidate Bill of Rights, if you will. You don’t have to limit it to me, I made sure every candidate had Am I was recruiter got a yes or no. And there’s there’s no excuse for doing you can use technology to make your job easier. You can match rejects, you know, people who apply and things like that, through ATS’s.
Chuck Solomon 14:45
Chris Russell 14:46
So to me that technology is there to do it, but why don’t they do anything, they just don’t seem to care enough about that candidate experience overall. And, you know, I think it’s your last chance to make an impression on that candidates, you know, they might go to glass door and right about you highly never heard back from you. They give you they just you sent them a template is defaulting sounds extremely and personal overall, that, you know, that they they read. And so I really hate that experience overall. And I think this is something that every company today can do a cost them nothing essentially, right? Right, you can have a better rejection process by simply rewarding your your email templates, and making your recruiters you know, reject everyone that comes in or you know, or put them through the process and world. So, you know, Virgin Media found that you know, 80% of they rejected candidates are also customers, then pork, pork, inexperienced cause thousands of these people to churn. And so they calculated customer like $6 million in lost revenue overall. Wow. And so one thing they did to kind of kind of rank that was they put flight coupons or flight vouchers in their rejection emails, often I use these candidates discounts to Virgin Atlantic flights. Excellent scenario, right. Right, right, turning that that rejected candidate into a customer through a simple offer, that cost them nothing and earn the money in the end, right. Very, very great example of a company that is doing rejection, right. But so number one is, you know, you gotta you gotta close that loop. It’s the biggest problem right now within which actually mostly in the world, you know, they might be ready to apply later on as well. So they don’t hear from you right away? How do you already know they’re not a good candidate or not.
They give them a chance to basically come back to you set their expectations overall, I think that’s something you should be doing like in the thank you for applying email that most people signed out the city we can expectation of what’s going to happen with their resume that point, and where you tell front where you prep them and set their set their sights on what’s going to happen next, is only going to benefit you as an employer. So you know, they’re going to talk about you on there and with their networks are going to go to glass door. And so I think that green recruiters understand that the long term impact can’t have in the company. And they handle objections better overall, like that. So that’s really why he start caring about some of the stuff.
Chuck Solomon 17:26
Yeah, good stuff there. Do you think as a follow up question, do you think that, you know, there’s obviously, you know, company post their job somewhere, they’re going to get, say, 100, I’m using 100, as around number 100 candidates apply? You know, probably a good 90% of them probably aren’t going to be qualified, young, maybe, you know, but there’s going to be a small subset of Pete of candidates that are going to be qualified and are going to go through some some sort of interview phone interview in person interviewing process. So do you think there should be the same or different or more enhanced rejection process for the, you know, the 90% that aren’t qualified yet? One thing? And, you know, what about the people that actually you engage, like, one of the one of the recruiters took time, maybe the hiring manager actually took time? Like, how do you differentiate? Or how should you do things differently? Or the same? In your opinion?
Chris Russell 18:33
Yeah, so I definitely want to break up the stages of that rejection process, right. So you’ve got sort of the 90% rule, which is, you know, the mass rejection email will work just fine as long you send it out in a timely manner. And you, you know, you just let him down gently, right? Then you’ve got the people who you phone screen, perhaps we didn’t make the cut. I think they deserve a slightly different template as well. And then you get the people who you actually interviewed. You brought in house it’s a me if I were, you know, if I had the time to do this, I would basically, anybody who brought in house for an interview, obviously call sure to tell them why they’re not getting a job. You can give us some feedback from Regina, we hate we find a better candidate match and the hiring manager had a better but the this, this other candidate might fill the job or whatever might be. That’s how I would handle it. So he doesn’t want to break it up in terms of who that person is. which stage they came to the process now, which they do, I would say you reject them overall. So I think I’m Johnson & Johnson, if I recall correctly, they have nine different rejection templates. I’m not sure exactly sure what the stages are they have, but I think they may break them out into even to department level ones as well. Sure. Around around their different processes, but at the very least I think mass rejection and after phone interview rejection, and then after interview, in house rejection is kind of the minimum you need need to have for proper rejection. You know, cadence if you will.
Chuck Solomon 20:07
Gotcha. What, what do you say to because I, I’ve heard here this time and time again. And I think part of it is part of the reason for the radio silence, if you will, where candidates don’t hear anything, but I’ve heard from HR people, that they’re just, they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. And for that, to be used against them. And, you know, part they see their job is like, trying to keep the company out of hot water and legal.
Chris Russell 20:39
Chuck Solomon 20:40
You know, out of legal, hot water there. So I mean, what what would you say to? Because you said, I thought you made a great suggestion, like the folks that you’re interviewing you actually pick up the phone, call them and tell them, you know, why they’re not getting the job? And then what would you say to HR director that says, we can’t do that we’re going to get sued.
Chris Russell 21:01
Chuck Solomon 21:01
How do you respond?
Chris Russell 21:02
I don’t know. I? Sometimes I just sometimes I get it’s a cop out because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen. But right now I do I do feel the pain in a way because if you know, to production is hard. Right. I think that number one, I think they’d be surprised at the amount of candidates who would appreciate an honest rejection overall. You know, I think most people can take bad news. And so I think that if you tried it, I think you’d be more surprised at how how well they take that right. I think honest, open feedback, helps that person move on world. So if I know I’m lacking a skill in a certain area, or just didn’t have a good rapport enough with the hiring manager, I can handle as a candidate, right? I think most people can’t overall. So that’s the first thing I would say. Secondly, there are ways you can you can word it right, you can kind of give them some generalized feedback along you know, hey, we look just found a better candidate overall, right? Something you want to go back in and said, we found somebody better leave it at that you’re kind of ward in a way you know, you to let him down gently essentially. The the thing I’m doing with Rec Tech Media to is, I’m trying to also add value to that process. So I know, Johnson & Johnson partners with The Muse. And they offer some kind of content in their rejection emails, my exactly sure what it is, but maybe just some advice, things like that. So if you can be an advocate for the job seeker as well. So I come up with this, this concept called Rejobify.
Chuck Solomon 22:36
So love the name, by the way. Yeah, so unique Rejobify.
Chris Russell 22:41
Don’t just reject the candidate, Rejobify them. And the idea there’s best help them become a better job seeker through your rejection email. So what we do is it’s Rebobify.com, we take the employer email, we kind of rewrite it make it sound better than it needs to sound, because nine times out of 10, they’re all just kind of default want to comes with the ATS (application tracking system). And we insert an offer in there, it says, As a thank you for taking the time to apply, we teamed up with a company like Rejobify, to help you become a better job seeker. And so we’re putting an offer in there for the job seeker to get to go and improve their job search skills. So we put a link says, click here to access the free job learning course, over on Rejobify site, and other tools to continue your job search. And so you know, we’re letting down gently and the first opening, sentence there of that rejection email, or told me don’t be discouraged like else. Remember reading one of my templates here. Now, it’s as though your resume experience, are impressive can offer you a position at this time. But please don’t be discouraged. We were delighted you consider us as a future employer, you again, we encourage applicants to look for other positions on our site. And perhaps you’ll find something else. And as a thank you, again, thank you for taking the time to apply. You’ve teamed up with Rejobify. So I want to give back to the jobs ago I want companies to help them help their rejected can help the people they can’t hire, to go out there and find a job through some of the tools and free courses that we have on there. So that’s what the premise of Rejobify is. And it’s something that I think every company should be doing no matter what no matter what. You really just taking the time to rethink how you word that rejection email, and what you do from there really goes a long way towards making you more of an employer of choice, and helping to set that, you know, set your employer brand in the market, if you will. so sure.
Chuck Solomon 24:36
You had mentioned earlier, Virgin and J&J. Are there other companies that come to mind where you think that you know, they’re working hard on candidates experience? That you would you would say, Yeah, they that they’re doing this? Well, other than you already mentioned Virgin and J&J?
Chris Russell 24:55
Yeah. It’s definitely being driven by I’d say that the big global companies at the with Chuck, that’s where it’s kind of trickling down from I think, so you’re seeing like the Starbucks, CapitalOne. I know CapitalOne, basically, your ranks all the recruiters. And they make there’s a survey for their candidates. And on that survey, they can they see that it came to a recruiter contact you. And they have a list of all that stuff that happens. And so the head of TA or go back and check each month, and see which recruiters didn’t contact that in that, that candidate. So there are companies who are out there now doing this,, I think the the Candidate Experience Awards or CandEs are good place to find those companies. And but again, they are they are being driven by the big kind of Fortune 500. They’re the ones who seem to get it right now, overall, and a lot of the innovation is being driven by a big global players, I think.
Chuck Solomon 25:51
Sure. Well, I appreciate your insights into this for sure. If listeners want to go ahead then learn more about you or find you after this. How would they go about doing that?
Chris Russell 26:05
Yeah, I’m all over the web. I think sometimes they think I have a too many website and things like that. But RecTechMedia.com was probably the best place. It’s kind of a hub for everything I do on there.
Chuck Solomon 26:16
Gotcha. Thank you, Chris, for your time and your insights.
Chris Russell 26:20
My pleasure Chuck great chatting with you today!
If you like what you hearing on this podcast please subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts and do share with others. Thanks for listening and here’s my interview.