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It really is a two-way street

January 13, 2008|Molly Selvin | Times Staff Writer

Memo to bosses: Although most job-hunting advice is, naturally enough, aimed at job seekers, remembering a few simple courtesies will help employers land top candidates.

Workplace experts say that too many managers have forgotten that today's applicant could be tomorrow's customer, colleague -- or superior.

It doesn't take much to make candidates feel good about your company, even if you don't hire them.

* Inform every applicant that you received his or her resume. A simple e-mail or form letter is better than letting people wonder whether their applications fell into an electronic black hole.

* Make a good first impression -- it's just as important for employers as for applicants. For example, don't make job-seekers sign off on the company no-tattoo policy or authorize a criminal background check before they've even met their would-be boss.

* Ask, then listen. A lot of employers do way too much talking when they interview candidates, says Gary Kaplan, founder of Gary Kaplan & Associates, a Pasadena executive search firm. Instead of asking questions, they rattle on and on about themselves and their company. Then they make a judgment call based on the few tidbits the applicant managed to chime in. It's better to ask open-ended questions about a candidate's past employers and accomplishments. Then let them talk.

* Sell your company. Despite the current economic uncertainties, the job market is very tight in several areas including finance, human resources and fundraising. Top applicants have many opportunities, and companies that win the war for talent make potential employees feel like stars not paper clips.

* Finally, have the courtesy to notify the folks you reject. "It's tragic and very foolish" how often employers leave applicants hanging, Kaplan says. And you never know: Today's unsuccessful job candidate could be a potential company client tomorrow.

molly.selvin@latimes.com

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