After a grueling job search, you have finally found the candidate you were looking for all along. Offers were extended, pre-employment testing was passed and the job opening can now be officially closed. Hooray!
There's just one problem: Figuring out what to do with all those other candidates you didn't hire. You're busy and responding to each and every person who applied is time consuming. Does it even matter? They weren't right for the job, so do you really have to treat them with kid gloves?
The short answer is, yes. Every applicant who applies with you is going to talk about their experience with your company. Each and every one. So how you treat them can actually play a huge rule in what your hiring pool looks like in the future. A company's reputation and ability to attract key talent is just as affected by how they treat the applicants they don't hire as it is by how they treat the employee's they do.
You know that, right? You also probably know that while an applicant may not be perfect for this job, they just might be for the next opening that comes up. So you want them to walk away feeling as though they are still respected as professionals, even if you don't wind up hiring them.
You may not think you have the time, but here are a few ways you can ensure every applicant leaves hoping for another chance to work for your organization - and willing to tell everyone they meet that they should be hoping for the same opportunity as well.
Communicate: Most hiring systems today make it simple enough for you to send all job candidates a generic e-mail letting them know the position has been filled. Use that feature. It is a matter of a few clicks to communicate to all applicants that a job is now filled, and even those you didn't interview will appreciate the update. For those you did interview or who made it further along in the hiring process, you may want to consider the more personal approach of calling them directly.
Answer Questions: If you have constructive feedback you can offer a candidate about their experience or interview skills - don't be afraid to give it if they ask. Perhaps there is a certification that could beef up their resume, or experience they should be seeking if they want to take their career a certain direction. Giving candidates eager to improve their chances in the future a bit of advice today, may mean they come back your way once they complete the additional steps you've suggested.
Maintain a Database: For candidates who stood out but just weren't the right fit for this specific job, maintain a database of resumes that you can refer to and pull from in the future. If an opening comes up that you think may be a good fit for someone you met with in the past, reaching out and encouraging them to apply will not only garner respect from the candidate, it may also help you to build a team with everything you are looking for.