Famous for 15 minutes

We care about technology-enhanced human systems. So we thought we would share regular thoughts and opinions about why we think they matter so much.

A brand safety lesson for a Swedish super-brand - and its candidate experience parallels.

If you want the ultimate vehicle to keep you and your loved ones safe, I’d highly recommend the FV4034 Challenger 2 tank. It’s got 1,200bhp, has a top speed of 37mph and the armour plating will certainly protect everyone inside. It’s not ideal for the weekly shop as parking is a bit of a bugger. But with a 120mm cannon on top you could always make your own parking spaces.

Then again, if you don’t have a spare £4.2 million, the next best thing is obviously a Volvo. I think their modern sleek execution and undisputed high-quality finish are a great  combination. I’m nearly 50 after all, and I’ve got to an age where ‘cool’ now can also mean ‘considered’. Granted, it hasn’t got armour plating, but this is Volvo, so as well as performing in all facets I’m interested in I know it’s the safest vehicle for me and my loved ones.

As we roared towards the end of the year their latest commercial sprung up from somewhere or another on a visit into YouTube land or similar. Have a look at it before you read on.

Stunning isn’t it? Emotive, powerful, moving, hopeful. It reinforces the facts behind the safety claim. It tells us that Volvo put the innovation into safety. They lead the way. And they do it on a beautifully human level. Volvo and safety. The brand that does exactly what it says on the tin - to steal another super-brand’s raison d’etre. What can I say – the advert spoke to me at a deeper level than I would ever expect a car advert to.

I’ve grown to trust Volvo entirely. Or rather, I did. Safety of people, emotive marketing and a 93 year history of innovation is all well and good, but my trust in them has been eroded, because I feel a little let down from an interaction that happened a day or two after seeing the advert. A day or two after I felt all the more “brand-connected”.

Let me explain. In March, I renewed my lease with a Volvo XC60. After four years I’ve now got an upgraded car and I’m thrilled with how ‘comfortably cool and perfectly considered’ it is. I then received a lovely, very personal feeling, email from a chap at Volvo business leasing asking if I might like a conversation about company cars. Well, I’m in a place where I’m loving the brand and I certainly love the car, so this seemed like a perfect marriage. One slight challenge was that as although we’re a two lease-hire car family I had, just a matter of weeks previous, renewed the second car with another brand, so I emailed back and said I’d love to chat, but we wouldn’t be able to commit for a couple of years. I also opened up and said how much I really enjoyed the Volvo I had, thought the advert was stunning and how the brand he was representing really resonated with me.

And then I waited for a response. And waited. And …  nothing. No follow up. Not even “that’s nice to hear”. Nothing. TBH I felt somewhat raw, having put my emotional connection out there and was left… “ghosted”.

I know the automobile industry is struggling. But like any business, focusing on short term gain, the speed of capturing immediately valuable leads, rather than being wise to the fruitfulness of a long-term relationship has left me feeling a little… empty. A little… flat. The simple fact is that I might not be ready now, but keep me warm and I will be all the more ready to commit in the future. And keep advocating strongly for the brand in the meanwhile.

This corporate ghosting has got me thinking. As we step from a year of challenge into a year of goodness how much more, the relationship you have with your candidates has never been more important.

Over the coming months, you will start a relationship with about 0.1% of the people who apply to work with you. The other 99.9% will be left disappointed. How you treat the majority of candidates who don’t make it to day one is something has implications way beyond the momentary disappointment of not getting a job. For them simply keeping them warm and staying in touch during the application process is the least you can do. Delivering the news they don’t want in a way that keeps them feeling good about themselves, and you, is vital. And offering to keep in touch by keeping the door open for the future can only benefit you and them in the future.

We are all in unchartered waters. Don’t worry, I’m not about to extol the virtues of a safe HARBOUR. That would be cheap. What I want to do is remind you that being kind, and decent and respectful is more important than ever.

I believe that right now, our responsibility for understanding the psychological impact of rejection should be one of your highest priorities. Those 99.9% of people that you say ‘no’ to have a family behind them who will feel their pain. They are the friends of people who are supporting them through their recent challenges. And they may be parents of children who don’t quite understand why mum or dad doesn’t have same bounce in their step as usual.

And if you wanna be commercial about it - then apart from potentially being a candidate of the future, or knowing a candidate who might be right for another role you’re recruiting for, if you sell a product or a service then you’ll destroy any brand connection there too.

I’ve long held that the impacts of a bad candidate experience are felt far deeper and more personally than most other brand interactions, certainly more than the case of a car company not following through on their initial well-crafted email that turned out to essentially be a bit of a hollow marketing mailer. The knock-on effect of 2020 will give rise to an increase in applications for every single job. I would urge anyone responsible for recruitment to look at their processes, their messaging and see how human it is. And when doing so, think about the 99.9% of people who will interact with it. You’ll be giving them bad news. But you can do it in a way that’s good for everyone. Be human. Stay kind.


Blog post by Alex

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