SPIE Career Center

Six Tactics to Turn Rejected Applicants Into Future Talent

Kazim Ladimeji
Managing Editor, thecareercafe.co.uk

Employers should not take job applicants for granted; not even the ones they reject. Why? Because applicants often make a significant investment of effort to apply to your organizations, which means it is only fair that they are treated well in return. Also, if you fail to treat candidates well, it is likely to damage your employer brand, as shown by a WebRecruit study which showed that 75% of applicants, "would let others know", about a bad candidate experience with an organization.

But potential brand damage is not the most important business reason for treating rejected applicants well. Actually,  the main reason is, that while rejected talent may not be suitable for right now, it could easily be right for an up coming role and become a star of the future. So, below I have described 5 strategies that firms can adopt to help turn rejected candidates into potential future talent.

1. Reply to all applicants in a prompt manner. Why? The WebRecruit survey cited above revealed that 77% of applicants expect to receive an application acknowledgement within 3 days and 83% expect to to be told whether they are shortlisted or rejected in less than five days. So try and reply to all candidates within these timescales and deliver a positive candidate experience making them more likely to apply again or refer top talent to your organization.

2. Provide Development Feedback. Rejected candidates value constructive feedback so providing it, if requested or as a rule, will enhance your employer brand. But, also if you provide targeted development feedback you will be guiding the candidates learning, meaning they will be more likely to develop into a suitable candidate for your organization in the future.

3. Maintain an 'Almost made it list'.  You will have inevitably have had candidates who fell just short of the mark but were still above your organization's competency threshold, meaning you would have employed them if they had happened to be the best candidate. Make sure to file these  applicants in your candidate databases as an 'almost there' and ensure to approach them again should another suitable position arise.

4. Maintain a 'Future Potential  list'.  You will have also have had candidates who fell a long way short of the mark and were below your organization's competency threshold, but, who with normal development make might a star employee in a year or two's time, or they might be able to fill a less demanding role if it arises. Make sure to file your 'future potential' candidates and monitor them on Linked-In periodically as they may developed the required skills in one or two years time - and then be a potential star applicant for your organization.

5. Having built up your 'Almost' and 'Future Potential' lists, make sure to connect with them on Linked-In and then you can track their progress and see if they have added new skills or have been promoted. You can then approach these connections as and when you need new talented applicants for any future job roles.

6. Market new positions to your Linked-In connections. Each time a new vacancy appears in your organization you are now able to advertise this to your Linked-In connections, or in particular, the 'Almost Made It' and 'Future Potential' lists you created in steps 3 and 4. This means that you have a ready and waiting pool of quality candidates. 

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk, a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.