Many know the feeling. You interview for your dream job and think it couldn’t have gone any better. You get a tour of the department, meet the team and talk specifics about salary & benefits. You ask how soon they expect to make a decision and they reply immediately. Excited about the inevitable offer, you send a handwritten thank-you note later that day, and then wait for the good news.
A week passes, and you hear nothing. Though you are a little less confident, you convince yourself not to read anything in to the lack of response. You send an email to the HR department to check the status of filling the position and anxiously await some sort of reply. And again, nothing. With each passing day, your excitement diminishes and is replaced with frustration.
Don’t Take It Personally
You shouldn’t. This is standard operating procedure for many company’s HR departments, large and small. They are inundated with email. They are overworked, often times stressed out performing multiple roles within the company from dealing with disgruntled employees, to handling complicated insurance reforms, to training new hires, to enforcing policies and procedures. That’s just to name a few. They can’t possibly reply to every single job candidate who is following up.
Or can they? Should they?
Why It’s Important to Respond
In a time when advertising budgets are decreasing, more and more companies are opting for a good public relations strategy. PR is a cost-effective way to gain credibility, to gain and maintain a favorable public image for a company and to build a great brand. The Public Relations Society of America defines PR this way… “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Organizations spend countless hours crafting their PR plans. They identify their target audience, write press releases, host events, sponsor little league teams, support non-profits, update websites, and/or utilize social media all in an effort to engage with the public and generate a favorable public image.
But, are they overlooking something? They may have identified key influencers – writers and bloggers, for instance, but they often forget about those individuals who have had direct interaction with their HR departments and been left with a bad taste in their mouth. Just one annoyed job candidate with a large social media network can taint a company’s image.
How Replying Can Be an Effective PR Strategy
With a little bit of effort, and minimal expense, a company can actually encourage a more favorable image just by having a policy in place of replying to job candidates’ follow-up emails. Even if the news isn’t good, candidates appreciate someone taking the time to get back with them. It doesn’t have to come from the overworked HR manager. It can be a role for an administrative staffer, for example, that simply acknowledges receipt of the email and gives a polite, personal response.
It’s not complicated. It’s simply an easy opportunity to give an individual a positive impression of a company, and potentially diffuse any negative word-of-mouth, which in this day and time, can be a highly effective PR strategy.