· 2 min read · Features

What value should we place on job candidates?


When shoe manufacturing company Toffeln? sent an unsuccessful candidate a box of wine, his post about it went viral, showing how rare such a gesture still is

A couple of months ago a job candidate posted on LinkedIn about the feedback and gift we gave him after applying for a senior role in our shoe manufacturing company. The LinkedIn post went viral. 11,490 people around the world ‘liked’ it and 876 left comments. Some were cynical (as you would expect) but most were positive.

By remaining nameless throughout the viral publicity my company gained a unique perspective. One of the main implications of the LinkedIn reaction seems to be that – without realising it – we’ve raised an important topic: what value should we place on job candidates?

We invited three candidates back after first interviews to give a presentation on how (if given the job) they would help our company reach its goals.

As a result of the presentations, we offered one the role and gave the ‘runners up’ fairly detailed feedback about why we had made our decision. We thanked them by sending each an individually selected gift.

One was Tim Hayne, to whom we sent a box of red wine. We wanted to say thank you not only for his time, but also for the effort and expertise he put into his presentation.

Tim then posted a photo of the wine and this short comment on LinkedIn: “Unfortunately
I didn’t receive the job offer. But I did receive this case of wine. Thank you (you know who you are) for such a generous gesture. I’m sure there’s not many businesses these days that appreciate the time and effort spent by a candidate in the recruitment process.”

He was surprised by the response and decided to let me know about it. I logged on to LinkedIn and read some of the comments. It would appear that it’s not widespread even to contact candidates who didn’t get the job, let alone give them feedback or the courtesy of a ‘thank you’. This seems unfair.

The act of thanking someone for their time and effort is intrinsic to our company culture; we believe it’s the right thing to do.

Our business exists to make a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of workers who are on their feet all day. (We make specialist workplace footwear.) To underpin our purpose we have a set of company values that are honest and simple.

We believe in constructive feedback both ways because it helps growth. We can never
get too much feedback on our footwear and the way we serve customers, because we need to know where we could improve. It’s the same when it comes to people and their growth. Ultimately we try and leave candidates with extra motivation and self-belief for future
job applications.

On reflection, this incident made me realise that job candidates are potential customers or brand ambassadors. How we treat every single person matters not just to our feeling of personal wellbeing, but to the health of our company.

It might be contrary to accepted commercial thinking that thanking applicants with gifts could be the right thing to spend money on. But in an area of business where the impact is difficult to measure, it just might be priceless in boosting commercial success.

Our now good friend Tim continues his search for a senior role in marketing in the South West, and we hope that his kindness towards us helps him on his way to success. You can find him (of course!) on LinkedIn.

Gerry Leflaive is director of Toffeln