“Treat people who don’t get jobs as well as people who do,” – Richard Branson

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Business tycoon Richard Branson has shared a personal anecdote which, he hopes, will serve as sage advice to employers everywhere.

“This is a really lovely story shared with me by Sam Cox,’ he wrote, on his Virgin blog. “She was sorting through some old paperwork when she found a letter from yours truly written in 1998.”

Sam Cox had recently applied to work as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic but did not get the job – Branson wrote to her saying she should not be discouraged from reapplying with Virgin or another airline in future.

The full letter reads:

“I am sorry that you have been unsuccessful with your application to Virgin Atlantic but I wanted to give you some words of encouragement for you to reapply in the future.
When I was travelling on a rival airline’s flight, I was so impressed with one of the Cabin Crew that I asked ‘Why don't you come and work with us at Virgin?’ She replied, ‘I tried but I wasn't successful through the interview process.’       
This just goes to show that even those that I feel would be great working  with us at Virgin don't always manage to get through our interview process  (often because of the sheer number of people who apply). It is for this reason that I encourage you to keep trying and not to be disheartened.

As a small gesture the next time you fly on any Virgin route, I'd like to offer you a £20 voucher to put towards a flight or some duty free when flying with us.
Wishing you every success for the future.”
Branson revealed that he used to send this letter, along with the voucher, to anybody who wasn't successful in a cabin crew interview – but why should other employers do the same?

Well, the Sam Cox in question actually ended up being Branson’s personal assistant some years later.

“We enjoyed some wonderful years working together and now Sam is thriving in a challenging new role outside of the group,” Branson said.

“Companies should treat all people well,” he added, “staff, customers, those applying for jobs, those who have only just heard about the company. You never know when your paths will cross in the future. Plus, if everybody treated everybody else how they would wish to be treated, the world would be a better place.”
  • Nova on 7/05/2015 12:55:45 p.m.

    I agree with you GB.
    I'm the same applying for roles whereby I don't even receive the 'thank you for your application' response ie boutique recruitment agencies.
    Ultimately its the recruiters who are slack in properly responding within a reasonable amount of time considering the ease of recruitment software these days along with hiring managers taking their sweet time responding to applicants.
    The "could we keep your CV for future" scenario is silly as I can't imagine a recruiter (that isn't at an agency) would actually be proactive and search through their database of candidates first and would just rely on new applications.
    It's great to see that Branson actually thinks about the applicant as a potential future employee even if they are unsuccessful let alone offer a £20 voucher!

  • GB on 7/05/2015 12:24:11 p.m.

    What a great but unusual example.
    Some of the worst are HR people not responding to HR applicants. In my quest applying for Senior HR roles I would be lucky to get more than 1 in 5 applications responded to, outside the first thank your for your application; even when I have discussed the role directly with a recruiting manager.
    I have not once heard back from a "could we keep you CV for the future" scenario.
    If HR can't do it well amongst themselves as a professional group we should not be surprised when its noted we don't usually do it well on a broader basis.

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