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Guest: Ed Baldwin Candidate Pool, Communication, Employment Branding and Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR, Recruiting

When it comes to recruitment it should always be about the applicant, ALWAYS.  It isn’t that way, but it should be. If you’re not a consumer-based business it might just be the most prolific connection your company has with the general population.  It definitely is for the HR function.

Candidate experience should be at the top of the heaping list of priorities you have if you have HR, Recruitment or the crème-de-la-crème – Talent Acquisition on your business card.


  1. It’s the first experience for those you hire.  We spend infinite amounts of time and energy to increase employee engagement and ensure employees would recommend our company to a friend, yet we don’t pay enough attention to their first experience with the company.  Utilizing a great line from an antiperspirant commercial – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  2. Most companies big or small have hundreds if not thousands of applicants each year.  If you’re Google or Apple its not thousands, but millions.  And what do applicants say about your company?  As HR professionals we continually fuss about what employees say but the number of employees we have represents a fraction of the number of applicants that have something to say about our company.
  3. Each of these applicants now has a plethora of tools to amplify their voice.  They are increasingly connected to millions of other “voices” in the public domain – and if you want to improve your employment brand then there isn’t a more sizeable audience you can impact, positively or negatively.
  4. Most companies suck at it. Think about the number of companies with completely automated career websites that warmly acknowledge each applicant with a “do not reply to this mailbox” message.  And that’s a best practice?  The more typical response applicants get from companies falls somewhere between a black hole and crickets.  Nothing, nada. Yep, that’s what you’ll be competing against.
  5. And frankly, it’s simple stuff.  Candidate experience can be greatly enhanced with the simplest of actions and those actions will reap BIG paybacks.  That means you don’t have to be a Fortune Best Company to Work For in order to differentiate your company positively.

So what’s the one simple step you can take that will provide you with the roadmap for improving your

company’s candidate experience?

Simply apply.

That’s right.  Apply for your company, and then apply for at least a few others that compete for the same talent in your space.  How do you stack up?  How long did it take?  How easy was it?  And perhaps most importantly, did the applicant feel as if their application was recognized, appreciated and reviewed by something more than an inanimate object, your mainframe?

Personalize your applicant processes.  Streamline them too.

Will it take too much of your recruitment team’s time?  Maybe a bit more but when you think that every applicant can become an extended part of your recruitment team then the extra time is worth the effort.  Hands down.

Consider some traditional techniques that have since fallen prey to automated recruitment systems:

  • Send each Applicant a personalized letter telling them you appreciate their application but regret to inform them that they are not among the most qualified for the position.  Thanks, but no thanks.
  • Amend your selection process by agreeing to call each applicant interviewed for a position and give some specific reason(s) why they were not selected.  Real feedback from a real person is real powerful!
  • Adjust your automated applicant tracking system so that applicants can apply (if fully prepared with resume/CV available for upload) in 10 minutes.  Any more than that and they’re frustrated and potentially put off.  Have you ever applied for a position on LinkedIn simply by attaching your profile in two or three clicks?  Now that’s easy.  Can your front end recruitment system live up to that standard?  If you need justification for your boss or IT just tell them that companies that make it easy to apply get a stronger and larger pool of applicants – period.

By focusing on candidate experience you’ll be addressing the largest contact pool in the general public – putting yourself in the best position to win in that dreaded talent war, impressing your talent management peers, improving the brand image of your company, and wowing those in the C-suite that are worth their salt when it comes to recognizing real value in the recruiting world.

Four birds, one stone.

But be careful, you may set off some sort of spontaneous combustion between HR and marketing (the oddest of matches) that positively impacts not just candidate experience, but employment brand – all to the oohs and aahs of your executive team.

Guest: Ed Baldwin
Ed Baldwin is a career HR front man who’s advised and consulted with business owners and the C-suite on developing great cultures and inspiring work environments since the profession was called "personnel." Yeah, that makes him seasoned but also pretty quick to call out the fluffy HR theoretical crap from HR strategies that actually work – so don’t even bring that here. His versatility has taken him all over the world continually acquiring knowledge of how to build a great company through great HR practice, learning mostly from real world experience and his own mistakes. Reach out to him at