Candidate Care: A Competitive Advantage - Pharmaceutical Executive


Candidate Care: A Competitive Advantage
Treating job applicants well creates ambassadors for companies' images and brands, even if they don't get hired.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Job candidates can become important spokespeople for the companies they seek employment with, because they gain specific and intimate knowledge of the organization and its employees during the interview process. This is particularly true at the executive level, because these people are often well known and their opinions are respected. Whether they get the job with a company or not, they are still valuable consumers of its products and services and can speak favorably about it when given the opportunity. Hiring companies should consider, too, that they may want to re-approach some candidates as future potential hires, so they should take particular care when developing these relationships and not burn any bridges.

Enhance the Brand In the pharmaceutical industry, a company's products are the key components contributing to the company's overall brand or image. But, the best brand awareness programs involve more than products alone. The company itself—and its reputation—also help to define the company's brand. For example, think of the many products and brands offered by General Electric. Yet, its most notable brand is the company itself, GE. It is apparent that successful candidate care programs can have a positive impact on a company, its reputation, and its brand.

Feedback from the market suggests that most companies have significant room for improvement in their candidate care programs, as one top-five global pharma company learned when it conducted a three-year survey of its interview process.

"It generally took two weeks to build an itinerary and schedule the first interview," reports a company representative. "It took up to a month between interview rounds. It generally took up to one month from the last interview to make an offer. Almost half of all interview schedules were revised twice, and the majority of schedule changes were requested by the company."

Most candidates feel that process takes too long. Fortunately, this company could improve its process if it had a better understanding of candidate care.

From the Top All companies need leaders and specific skill sets to accomplish their missions. It is management's job to ask the following questions:

  • Where is the future talent base, and is the supply sufficient?
  • What is our strategy for securing tomorrow's leaders?

These may seem like simple questions, but they have difficult answers that must be addressed.

A myopic school of thought suggests that candidate care is the sole responsibility of human resources. A parallel can be drawn with the marketing function. Certainly it is axiomatic that a company's marketing strategy must transcend the marketing department and be a total corporate concept. So must candidate care, because once an issue involves a total corporate effort, it becomes a board priority.

The commonly accepted premise that all business activities are directed toward increasing profits and shareholder value obviously includes candidate care. In support of this view, management and the board of directors must continually evaluate the talent involved in candidate care, from interviewers and search firms to trainers and human resources specialists.

Companies seeking to increase profits and enhance shareholder value should remember that world-class talent seeks its own level. It behooves them to ensure that employees representing them in the interview process are strong leaders in their own rights. Otherwise, prospective leaders might be turned off, which no company can afford.

Employee Buy-In Once the strategic value of candidate care is recognized, it takes strong leadership to explain it to employees and to make it an effort ingrained in the corporate culture. Overcoming resistance to the idea that the company must make efforts to attract and retain top executives may require aligning candidate care with profits in the minds of employees. If they understand that executive leadership has a direct influence on profits, and that profits, in turn, are key to enhancing shareholder value, then most employees will understand the importance of candidate care. In fact, the board should challenge management to educate all employees on candidate care and the impact it can have on shareholder value and the company's reputation.


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