Shutterfly sucks

So I spent a couple of hours writing a letter to Shutterfly, the photobook and card company in Redwood City, CA. I won’t go into explaining it– posted the whole letter below– but was convinced by two friends that sending it would do no good. However, posting it for anybody to see– now, that would be satisfying on many levels. I have removed names but here is the letter in its full glory:

Dear Shutterfly:

I am taking the risk of writing and sending you this letter, without a sense of where it may get shared within the company or personal repercussions, because I recently had a poor experience involving my application for an open role. However, my goal in this letter is not to complain about the team or about my experience specifically but rather to highlight the unintended impact of poor treatment of job candidates.

I will first explain what I experienced and then tie this in to the business implications. I applied recently to an open marketing position via a friend at the company. (On a side note, I had also interviewed onsite in March of this year for a role that was later rescoped and made more junior. I had interacted with HR on that occasion and thus also directly contacted a recruiter when applying for the {identifying info removed} role.) Here is a sequence of events:

10/11   Applied for role

10/19   Contacted by {recruiting assistant} to schedule 30 min phone interview

10/24

2pm   Date and time of scheduled interview with {recruiter}

2:20pm   No phone call, emailed {recruiting assistant} to inquire, told that {recruiter} was stuck in meeting and would need to reschedule. I give her additional dates and times I am free for rescheduling.

3:02   Email from {recruiter} apologizing and stating that she is looking forward to our conversation

11/1   I send an email followup to {recruiting assistant} asking about rescheduled call

11/2   Canned email response from {recruiter} referencing the wrong position, indicating that the position has been filled.

I understand that recruiters are busy and that every candidate should not expect a personal email or anything beyond notification of the end of their candidacy. There are lots of people looking for work and I know that in that period, Shutterfly recruiters were filling a number of roles. I absolutely understand that there is a challenge in allocating resources.

However, considering that I was stood up for a phone call and then received an email from the recruiter indicating we would soon speak and then waited, thinking that I would be scheduled for a new date and time, I do think that I deserve better than a canned response, hastily sent and containing the wrong information and absolutely no reference to what had transpired. And really one of the worst things about the canned response email, especially with what I experienced, was the final line: “Thanks again for your interest in Shutterfly’s careers and unique culture; we hope you will remain enthusiastic about our company.” Clearly that felt like salt in a wound.

Wondering if this was in line with recruiting at Shutterfly and generally just feeling very negatively about the company, I visited Glassdoor.com, a website where users enter information regarding companies that they have interviewed with or worked for. And I was interested to read a post by a former candidate for a Partner Marketing Manager role (I have included a screenshot of the post for your reference) because his/her experience was very similar and his/her subsequent sentiments exactly match what I feel. After receiving a canned response rejection email (and prior to that, no response when s/he proactively communicated to the recruiter that s/he had received a job offer from another company), the individual states that s/he has lost all faith in the brand and would never use the products and would communicate to everyone in his/her circle not to use the products as well.

And I have to be honest: I feel the same way. From my experience, I have no respect for the company and will never use the products and will probably discourage people I know from using Shutterfly products as well.  And just to be clear: it’s not the rejection. It isn’t the clinical handling of a business decision. If I had applied and been rejected, I wouldn’t feel negatively; I would accept that I wasn’t the right one for the role and move on with my life. But there is something exceedingly unsatisfying when you, as a candidate, earnestly enter into a discussion with the hopes not just of employment but also of offering a potential employer the benefits of your skills and experiences and get jerked around, ignored or mistreated and then receive the ultimate symbol of inconsequence – a canned email response—it’s enough for even the most level-headed of people to feel slighted and want to take action.

When I first happened upon the Glassdoor post, I had originally tweeted it to the Shutterfly Twitter account. But then I deleted it because I realized that my goal is not to embarrass Shutterfly or exploit negative sentiment. Rather, I want you (you, I’m assuming, somebody on the business side of things, perhaps, or maybe a recruiting team member) to know that the behaviors of the recruiting team do not only impact how people feel towards working at Shutterfly. Depending on the treatment, it has an impact on the brand and on what is being communicated about it. And as much as recruiting works to place candidates that will engage in strategies to increase brand awareness, trial and loyalty, it can also be (unintentionally) creating the opposite of advocates: enemies and embittered individuals who feel justified in bad-mouthing and discouraging use of your products.

This letter is not an ultimatum and I hope that it has not come across as me raging or complaining or lecturing. Again, I know that the recruiting function faces challenges in managing a lot of very highly qualified candidates and typically under time or other restraints. But please: treat people better. Dropping the ball and then sending out canned responses—it’s rude. It’s unprofessional. And based on my feelings, somewhat validated by what I saw on Glassdoor, I do think it has a negative impact on your business. I don’t want to see Shutterfly fail, but based on these aligned stories (I wonder if there are others—although if you read the entry above the Partner Marketing post in the attached screenshot, it seems likely that there are), I feel like Shutterfly recruiting could do/be given tools or processes to do better.

Thanks,

{A person that will forever hate your company and badmouth you to everyone I know}

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