Recruiting, Branding, Culture and a 7-Year-Old

The story of how an intrepid 7-year-old from the agricultural city of Hereford in the U.K. boldly wrote Google for a job has been told around the world.

In case you missed it, Chloe Bridgewater addressed a letter to “google boss” asking for a job when she grows up and gets “bigger.” She likes computers, plays with a tablet, hopes to be an Olympic swimmer, and declared that her teachers “tell my mum and dad I am very good in class.”

That would make a cute Facebook post, but not much more, except for what happened. What Google did serves as a lesson in branding, and, even more so, as a lesson for what it means to live a company cul

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ture. The Google boss of bosses, CEO Sundar Pichai himself responded, telling Chloe: “If you keep working hard and following your dreams, you can accomplish everything you set your mind to — from working at Google to swimming in the Olympics.”

Cynics might suspect a PR ploy by Google, but it was Chloe’s dad who made it public in a LinkedIn post.

Read through just a few of the 7,000+ comments and it’s clear this small gesture has touched people in a powerfully emotional way. It’s put a very human face on one of the largest companies in the world. No amount of money could have bought the kind of response this one letter did. It was the company culture at work.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, isn’t perfect. Like any company, especially one with 65,000 employees, it’s taken its knocks, yet, you have to admire a company where someone felt empowered to pluck  a child’s letter from among the 2 million job applications and countless other correspondence and send it up the chain of command. We don’t know how the letter made its way to Pichai, nor what prompted him to send a personal response, but he did. And that’s what matters.

The 2016 North American Candidate Experience Research Report tells us that after an initial “Thank you for applying,” almost half of all candidates were still waiting for a follow-up two months later. And that’s from companies that think enough of their recruiting process to open up their process to inspection.

What happens at your company? Unless for a C-level job, how many applicants ever come to the attention of your CEO? Forget that. How many even get an acknowledgment their resume has been received? CareerBuilder says almost 40% of all applicants hear nothing.

Sending a polite receipt is not rocket science. All tracking systems can do that automatically. All but the obsolete ones can automatically let candidates know when the position is filled.

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Don’t have an ATS? Neither did I when I was a VP doing my own recruiting for a director. I simply set up an auto-reply in Outlook. Rejected candidates got a follow-up telling them so.

What would happen at your company if you got a handwritten letter from a little girl wanting to work for you? What happens when you get an application to a job you want to fill? How do you respond? Do you?

Building a positive brand begins with a positive culture. A culture that nurtures your employees, helping them to do their best. A culture where employees want to encourage a little girl or her mom or dad to come to work there. A culture where employees care.

John Zappe

John Zappe is contributing editor of ERE.net, and the former editor of the now closed Fordyce Letter. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. 

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him by clicking here.