Creating brand ambassadors by rejecting applicants.

Brand Ambassadors

Do you think you can’t make a rejected applicant into a referrer for your next best hire? Or that someone you turn down will hate your company and never use your product? I think you can do something about this, and the solution might be surprisingly easy.

The #1 frustration of a job applicant 

What is the main frustration of someone looking for a job? Getting rejected off course! But there are many different ways of being rejected, and some are more frustrating than others. A simple Google search will tell you that being rejected by receiving a standardized rejection email is considered one of the worst ways. (The only thing that is worse is not receiving any response at all, but I will not consider that a rejection in this post) People find it frustrating to receive something which hasn’t noticeably cost any time or attention, while they have taken considerable care in finding the company, reading the vacancy and writing an application. These frustrated applicants vent this frustration on their social media. I am sure you all know what I am talking about, since we all have friends and family who do this from time to time. It will often result into comments that say the possible employer is the worst organization ever and that said organization is not aware of the immensely talented person they have just rejected. Whether this is true or not, the organization is now considered to be evil and we have certainly not created any new brand ambassadors.

Why brand ambassadors matter

When I use the term brand ambassador, I am talking about any person that is very positive about a brand/organization. The person is so positive he or she recommends it to others. Any business person will tell you how important it is to have people promoting your brand, and its even better if they do so because they believe in it instead of being paid to do so. In marketing it is also referred to as promoters. By promoting your brand these brand ambassadors will convince others to buy your product or work for you.

How to turn an applicant into a brand ambassador

At TOPdesk, we make sure that we treat every applicant with respect and try to give them a clear explanation on how the process from applicant to employee is organized. In order to find and recruit talented people, it is very important to respond quickly to an application and follow up on every interview accordingly (HR can learn from Sales here!). But here is the catch: We don’t just do this to make sure we hire the talents before other companies do, we do this to create brand ambassadors out of the people we don’t hire as well.

Obviously not everyone that is turned down will become an ambassador. But if you treat them right they won’t think you’re an evil company and maybe even remain positive after the process. We have had several occasions where we turned down a nice applicant in a proper way, who would than suggest a friend to apply to the same vacancy who was hired instead! Or instances where rejected applicants become customers working with our product afterwards. That is pure gold for any company, and the best thing is: it is nice to treat people decently!

Basic things every recruiter should do

  1. Give a bespoke response to every applicants which has taken the time to send a resume and write a motivation letter. If you reject the application you should explain clearly why you do not see a fit. If you can, you should provide tips and suggestions for other applications (instead of laughing like a recruitment-snob at certain lines in a resume, help the candidate by suggesting a different approach).
  2. Provide decent feedback after every interview in a timely fashion. We try to make sure we call every applicant within a day or two after their interviews to minimize tension and keep the process up to speed. Waiting endlessly on a phone call hoping for a job, and not hearing anything from the company can be devastating. I can’t imagine leaving an applicant in the dark about their possible job after you have spend an hour and a half getting to know them and talk about their career and future. Just call the person and explain why, providing some tips for future interviews. Trust me, it is worth it.

You might point out that this approach takes time, but any business person will tell you it is very important to get brand ambassadors instead of people hating on you on social media. All it takes is some time and dedication to give applicants the respect they deserve and make them feel like they are worth something (you know they are!). You might even get a ‘prize’ as well:

Dutch certificate awarded for a good digital application experience by “Digitaal Werven

The future of recruitment

Peer reviews on internet about companies are starting to take off. An international website like Glassdoor allows people to rate companies they have work(ed) for, and where they have applied. This might still seem strange in The Netherlands, but I am sure this will be much more common in a few years. I am really happy with these developments as it will hopefully lead to more people working for the decent companies (we strive to be one of those) and less people applying at the companies who treat people badly. And that will most certainly lead to world peace in the end ;).


What do you think is important in an application process? Do you have more tips for a recruiter looking to treat people nicely?


A few tips for employer branding on Facebook

employer branding on social media

Referral recruitment

Referral recruitment is great. For years it has been the best source of recruitment at TOPdesk and I know this is the same for many other companies. Not only is it a fast and cost-friendly way of getting applications on your vacancies, it also supplies candidates that are more likely to fit in your company culture. Referral recruitment has been a good way of recruiting talented people before HR and recruitment used social media, and it might have become even better now that companies and employees are active on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

In order to get the referrals coming in, you need to make it easy for your employees to share your vacancies and news on social media. It is important to have a good company page and a few people that know a thing or two about social media, communications and employer branding to maintain that page. At TOPdesk, we have focused on quality instead of quantity of posts, in order to steadily build up the amount of followers. This way we have created an employer brand we feel comfortable with.

Recently we have launched a new recruitment website and shared it on Facebook. The post showed in some of our timelines but not on all of our timelines. We then paid for the post to show up in the timelines of friends and friends of friends in order to boost results. This led to some really nice reactions and applications. It also got me thinking on how the Facebook sharing system works and why posts don’t show up on the timeline of all the people that follow the company page. I did some internet research and found a very interesting video on Youtube by Veritasium which explains exactly how devious the Facebook system is.

So what have we learned by watching this great video? Let’s sum it up:

  • We now have ‘proof’ that shows big ad companies such as Facebook have brilliant strategies to generate revenue, sometimes at the cost of their users.
  • The posts you make through a company page don’t automatically reach all of your followers. It depends on the amount of engagement of the first few people that do see it shown in their timeline.
  • It is better to have a limited amount of followers that actually like and comment on your posts, than it is to have many followers that don’t interact at all. You will actually reach more people that way.

A tip for employer branding on social media

My tip to you is: Built an honest social media presence based on actual content instead of spamming people with all kinds of marketing material. Not only will you annoy less people on the internet, you will actually reach more people in the long run because the posts will generate more engagement. Which in turn will lead to more employee referral and more suitable potential employees!


Hats off to the colleagues in the social media team at TOPdesk, for doing such a wonderful job and providing me with some insights so I could write this post.