Candidate Experience Recruitment Marketing

3 Ideas to Turn Declined Candidates into Fans

unhappy candidate turns happy
Profile photo of Serge Boudreau
Written by Serge Boudreau

Want to turn a declined candidate into a raving fan for your business? Here’s how to improve the candidate experience to keep job seekers coming back for future opportunities.

3 Ideas to Turn Declined Candidates into Fans
5 (100%) 2 votes

Thanks to research from the Talent Board, many recruitment marketers know that your candidate experience has a major impact beyond just your hiring team’s success. It also affects how likely candidates are to continue doing business with your company as consumers, meaning that a poor candidate experience can negatively impact your overall business performance.

The risk is also greater when it comes to the declined candidate experience. It stands to reason that candidates who receive and accept your job offer are more willing to forgive and forget any hiccups in their overall experience. After all, they accepted your job offer!

Since every organization declines more candidates than they make offers to, this is a really important talent audience to pay attention to. Just because you say no or not now doesn’t have to turn candidates away from your brand forever. One way to improve your declined candidate experience is to provide them with value in exchange for their time.

The reason that I feel it’s worth taking the time to provide value back to declined candidates in exchange for the time they’ve put into your application process is twofold:

  1. It ensures they have a positive perception of your experience so they are more inclined to continue to do business with you as a consumer and say good things about your brand
  2. It gives them the chance to develop their professional skills further over time and maybe re-apply when a role opens up that’s a better fit down the line

So if you’re now convinced that you need to give your declined candidate experience a little more TLC, here are a few ideas for you to consider. Here are 3 ideas to turn declined candidates into fans of your brand.

1) Find a way to deliver specific feedback at scale

It might sound obvious, but so often candidates are declined from a hiring process without any specific feedback (or even worse by being ghosted or forgotten — yikes!).

When you’re releasing candidates who have had a pre-screen or phone interview take the time to provide a couple sentences of feedback about why you’re not moving forward with their candidacy.

You can find a way to streamline this using an email template in your ATS or CRM. We use a template we create and administer through Workable that has a few customizable sections that our recruiters can quickly plug in with specific feedback.

That being said, for candidates who make it to the in-person interview stage, you may want to consider delivering the feedback over the phone to improve the experience further.

If you have a very large company, you can consider training your hiring managers on the art of the “beautiful goodbye” so they can make some of these phone calls themselves.

2) Give them a small gift in exchange for their time

Another idea to consider is handing out a discount code, coupon or small gift card so declined candidates are encouraged to continue (or start) buying your products or services.

This small gesture of goodwill can make a lasting impression and protects your business by reducing the chance that unsuccessful candidates cut off ties with your business. Plus, offering discounts on your product or service can even act as a profit driver.

If a coupon or discount code isn’t a good fit for your business, you could consider providing a small piece of swag instead. Based on your budget this could be something you need to reserve for more executive or very close silver medallist candidates. However, the idea here is to think about ways that you can express your gratitude for their time with a small gesture of thanks.

3) Provide candidates with resources to help land a better-fit role

When declining candidates, it can be a great idea to offer up tools or resources to help them grow as professionals and be more successful in the future.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to provide some resources during an earlier stage of the process — like a pdf on your team’s hiring approach with tips before their interview. Then, once they hit the decline stage, you could consider sending over even more info to help them succeed in the future.

Now this might sound like something that’s difficult to do at scale, but it doesn’t need to be. You can create a few different resources that you get in the habit of emailing out to declined candidates (or better yet that are automatically sent out to save your team’s time).

Additionally, there are services that now exist to help with this. In the past, I’ve used Rejobify to deliver resources at scale. For a small monthly fee, Rejobify provides your candidates with access to training on a range of topics like:

  • How to optimize your use of job boards and job alerts
  • How to improve your interview skills
  • How to contact recruiters
  • How to use LinkedIn to its max potential
  • And much more
Brunco and Rejobify help improve job search skills

Burnco and Rejobify improve the candidate experience with job search skill help.

Providing job search or professional development resources to candidates sends them a message about your employer brand. It frames you as a company that cares about people and ensures the last touch point in their current journey with you is a positive one.

By providing something of value to candidates to thank them for the time they invested in the hiring process, you can improve their overall experience, enhance your employer brand perception, and potentially create a lasting impression that might lead to a re-apply and successful hire down the line when the timing is right.

Free tools from Chameleon Resumes

Offering free tools and resources helps you stand-out in the candidate experience, and keeps job hunters coming back for more.

I hope these ideas provide some inspiration for ideas to improve the declined candidate experience at your own organization! Any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with me to continue the conversation on LinkedIn.

Ready to enhance your own candidate experience and turn rejected candidates into fans? Watch the Rally Webinar On Demand: 4 Candidate Experience Mistakes You Absolutely Can Fix!

3 Ideas to Turn Declined Candidates into Fans
5 (100%) 2 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Serge Boudreau

Serge Boudreau

Serge Boudreau is the Director Talent Acquisition at Robots and Pencils. Prior to Robots and Pencils, he worked for BURNCO, Indeed and Kelly Services.

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