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Emails to job applicants are a branding opportunity

Today I wrote the email templates for our job applicants. As a brand person, I’ve always wanted to be a part of this important task, but it’s usually seen as an HR thing. I’ve always believed that this is a brand opportunity. These are real people and their careers are personal.

These emails are an opportunity to connect with real people who have real dreams of working to further your organization’s mission and it’s so deflating when these emails are cold, especially when they’re the “rejection” emails.

It’s an opportunity for compassion and empathy.

It’s an opportunity to connect people with your culture from the jump, even if you aren’t inviting them to work with you at this time.

Before we get to the tips, allow me to define what I mean by “email templates”. These are pre-written email templates inside our ATS (applicant tracking system) that hiring managers can use as a springboard for the emails applicants regularly need to receive leading up to a request for an interview. Senders are able, and encouraged to, make these personal as they send them.

Some of my tips for writing these emails:

Remember your brand tone. Some brands use this opportunity to be silly or cute or punny and honestly, some of them go way over the top trying to be fun.

Remember that some of these people will be very desperate for a job and have been looking for months. This was my situation at the start of the pandemic and it was extremely deflating to receive rejection after rejection written by a robot. I’m still getting rejections to applications from over a year ago and it makes me think less of the brands now that they don’t treat people like people.

Remember that while some of these people might not be out of a job, they may have had an eye on your business for a very long time waiting for this very role to pop up. You might not know who they are yet, but they’ve been connecting with your social, your website, your content, and dreaming of the day they get to apply with you. Treat them well.

Remember that they might be customers. Depending on what kind of business you are, these people may also be customers and a poor experience will turn them away from you. So many brands I’ve loved hit me between the eyes with a horrible experience of their culture in the process of rejecting me and they lost me as a fan. Also, I realize I dodged a bullet.

Remember that they will tell other people about a great or horrible experience. Aim to write auto-responders people would want to share.

Don’t reel them in with faux culture for them to be disappointed once they join. The “we’d love to meet you!” email should be in alignment with what they should expect their first call with you to be like. If the email is warm but the interview is cold, that’s going to create a disconnect. This is why branding is more than a logo. It’s every touchpoint every person ever makes with your business.

Wishing you all the best in writing your job applicant auto-responders!

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