Consumerization of Recruitment - Candidates Are Consumers

Consumers are the lifeblood of organizations. Without people buying products or services, business can’t survive. Without a committed and engaged workforce, the business can struggle to deliver to its customers. Yet, consumers and job candidates are often treated very differently by organizations.

As customers, we often feel well looked after. A great example of this was after making my first order with a large online retailer, I received a personalized video from the CEO. He thanked me for being a customer, and briefly explained what the business was trying to achieve. I was impressed. It made me feel important. But, most importantly they backed up their words with action and outstanding customer service. So, with examples like this, we feel the organization values us and our business.

Yet, do candidates feel the same?

Broadly speaking, the various threads on social media, articles published, and general conversation indicates that candidates are not getting the same warm and fuzzy feeling! Personally, I can testify that on a scale of one to 10, the experiences I had over a five-month job hunt period averaged around a four. Maybe five -- if I was feeling generous!

The Hidden Impact on the Business

The labor market in the U.S. is tight. In fact, at 4.1%, statistically, we are at what is considered to be almost full employment.*. The labor situation has been tightening for quite some time and predictions of skills shortages have been aired frequently over the past several months. They mostly exist in healthcare, technology, education, manufacturing and finance.**

Yet, a lot of organizations don’t seem to be adapting to the market forces. It’s hard to say why. Could it be lack of understanding of impact on their workforce? Are they under resourcing the talent attraction function? Or, have organizations become too reliant on processes that are driven by internal efficiency, rather than candidate engagement? (<--Click to tweet!)

The answer could very well be a combination of all of the above!

The Impact of Ignoring Candidate Engagement  

It is vital to remember that candidates are potential customers, and that a bad recruitment experience can affect a purchasing decision at some point later. Also, if a company has invested heavily in developing an employer brand, all the good work can unravel quickly with frequent bad experiences. (<--Click to tweet!)

Whilst word of mouth has always been a strong form of person-to-person communication, social media has become a platform for instantaneous commentary – both good and bad. The viral effect can be impossible to manage, so by putting guardrails in the recruitment process to ensure effective and courteous communication with candidates, there can be strong, positive effects.

It’s a well-worn cliché, but always treat others how you would want to be treated. With courtesy and respect, and making them feel they were important to you.

Here are five things your organization can start doing right now to improve candidate engagement:

  1. Don’t rely on the ATS to engage effectively with candidates. Consider what is being sent out (tone and content), and please include candidates’ names. Also, while the ATS allows for scalable communication, take a more upbeat and positive approach to your templates versus relying on the standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ email.
  2. Make sure you understand what the business needs from the role and then weave that into your candidate touchpoints. Connect the person to the role and to the business.
  3. Be authentic and don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Whether it’s about the position, the recruiting process, or the company overall.
  4. Make applying easy -- remember people have often put a lot of effort into preparing their applications.
  5. Provide good communication throughout the interview process (sometimes there’s delays, so just let people know).

What if the candidate is being declined? Then, even though you may be delivering bad news, the candidate will walk away from the process thinking, ‘I’d like to work at that organization one day.’ According to the Talent Board’s annual North American Candidate Experience Awards, in 2017, 74% of candidates who have a great overall experience throughout a company’s recruitment process are more likely to apply again, refer others, and buy products and/or services.

If you can achieve that, then it’s been a great outcome for you, the candidate, and the authenticity of your employer brand.

*Sources: The Economist, January 2017 and CNBC, June 2017

**Source: Mind the Gap report, July 2017

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