There is an unfortunate trend that appears to have spread over the past few years: as the speed of business has increased, the amount of common courtesy has decreased. People are less willing to take the time to respond to emails, return phone calls and follow up after meetings. And this isn’t us lamenting the “good old days.”

A recent Boston Globe article discussed how job seekers these days are lucky to get an email or phone call back, even after multiple interviews. Everyone knows that businesses these days are operating under tighter schedules and budgets. When you have neither time nor money, corners get cut. Most companies and their internal recruiters don’t see the time spent following up with cut candidates as a worthwhile investment. Their job, after all, is to hire someone, not to talk with those who didn’t make the cut.

However, there may be a hidden cost to these types of practices. In business, your brand is everything: if people can’t trust you and your brand, they will never buy your product. The hiring process is one way of building a company’s brand and reputation, and every time it’s run without regard for all the possible candidates you end up with some pretty ugly views of the company. Give a person a second round interview and then don’t follow up afterwards? Don’t count on that person (or his/her friends for that matter) on going to your business any time soon. That’s not to say that in failing to follow up with the ten candidates you didn’t hire you suddenly sunk your entire business. But regardless of what industry you’re in, people will judge your business depending on how you conduct yourself in all aspects.

This point is even more important when hiring at the senior executive level. Let’s say you’re hiring a new CEO and you’ve narrowed it down to two candidates, Frank and Gary. They’re both qualified for the job, but you decide that Gary is a better fit for the company. You hire Gary, sign him to a new contract and move on; but what about Frank? Chances are he wasn’t right for your company, but he was right for a different company, one that’s most likely in the same industry as yours. If you handled the situation right, you now have a connection with the new CEO of a prospective business partner. If, however, you gave Frank the cold shoulder after choosing Gary, you killed any chances for a future business deal before you even realized it.

The situation above is hypothetical of course, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the lesson: people treat you based on your reputation. Yes, not following up with every candidate will save you a little time and a little money, but even if your company sells the best product at the best price, a bad reputation in any aspect will come back to haunt you. Be respectful and be sure to show all applicants common courtesy. As experts in the field of recruitment, we’ve seen it time and time again: sometimes it’s not just about the candidate you do hire, it’s about the one you turn down.

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