Image courtesy of Pixabay

I originally wrote today’s post for Clicktools. It appeared on their blog on December 30, 2016.

How well have you thought out your candidate experience? Is it designed to attract or to frustrate? Do your candidates sing your praises, or do they regret the day their resumes crossed into your inbox? Do they feel like they’ve thrown their resumes into a sea of other candidates, waiting patiently for a response from your recruiter or the hiring manager, only for that response to never arrive? Do they feel excited after a great interview, only to have no follow-up from your company or no response to their follow-up?

I know a lot of people looking for jobs – in the CX world and otherwise – and the stories are consistent: companies are missing the boat on recruiting and, especially, on how that recruiting/candidate experience impacts the brand experience. They just don’t get it.

Here are the scenarios I’ve heard from these folks:

  • Resumes were sent for posted positions, and the candidates received no acknowledgement of receipt of said resumes by the targeted potential employer, not even an auto-response;
  • Interviews were had with companies, but there was no follow-up or feedback from corporate recruiters or hiring managers;
  • Thank you notes and inquiries about position status were sent by candidates with no response or acknowledgement;
  • Candidates were pursued/recruited by the company with no subsequent follow-up communication to close the loop and set an interview time (or just to say “no thanks”);
  • and more

Employers should be ashamed! Yes. I know. Companies are inundated with resumes, even if they’re just trying to fill a couple positions. But seriously, come on! Give someone the task to follow up with these candidates. You are hurting your brand if you don’t follow up – especially during a time when so many people are looking for new opportunities; remember, you are being touched by so many potential customers. O, did I say that? I mean, employees. No, actually, I also mean customers.

Herb Kelleher, in his response to being asked his “secret to success,” said: “You have to treat your employees like customers.” And I’ll add, “… your recruits, as well.” Why? For a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Even if you’re not specifically recruiting among a pool of known customers, know that any recruit is potentially a customer of yours.
  • Employees want to work for companies with which they are aligned (purpose, values, etc.). This means that they are likely also customers of those companies.
  • Candidates are customers or potential customers.

That’s three different ways to say the same thing, but the bottom line is that the candidate experience touches the customer experience, in a few different ways. Candidates might be customers; and even if they are not, they might be eventually.

The way companies handle themselves during the recruiting process leaves a lasting impression about the company on a candidate. Will the candidate want to work for your company, even if you make them an offer? (Not likely that unresponsiveness will cause that, but some of the other wacky recruiting tactics that I’ve heard about might.) Will he or she recommend employment at your company to others based on the recruiting process and the overall candidate experience? Will they share their experiences with friends and family, i.e., other future/potential recruits and customers? Will the candidate rethink that purchase from your company? Will the new hire, while simply happy to have a job, grace your doors with a sour taste about your brand because of the candidate experience?

Recruiting is a touchpoint in the employee lifecycle, which indirectly becomes a touchpoint in the customer lifecycle, as well. During this process, your HR recruiters are representing and selling the brand, the brand promise, and the purpose and the vision of the company, but if actions don’t match words, if you’re not living the brand, you’re living a lie. And that lie is easily perpetuated at this particular touchpoint.

Your recruiting team or hiring manager needs to:

  • Be responsive with candidates
  • Personalize the candidate experience
  • Be a resource to candidates and potential candidates
  • Close the loop on any open inquiries
  • Politely say “No” if someone is not a fit
  • Be courteous
  • Know that auto-responders are not helpful if they provide no real information
  • Remove job postings from every job source if the position is filled
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

If you have a portal through which candidates submit applications, reduce candidate effort:

  • Simplify the process
  • Don’t make candidates attach a resume and then also fill in the blanks
  • Provide regular updates about where candidates are in the process
  • Make the status updates meaningful, i.e., actually provide informative status updates
  • Ask for feedback

Do you survey your candidates after the recruiting process? No? Why not? Would you be embarrassed by candidates’ feedback about this process? Is this a broken process in your organization that clearly needs to be repaired?

One final thought: Don’t just map your customer journey. Map your employee journey, as well; it’s a journey that begins long before the candidate signs on the dotted line to become an employee. If you find that the journey starts out pretty rough, take a look at those interactions and fix the root cause before the word gets out that it’s badly broken. If not, hiring good people will become a real challenge.

The candidate experience impacts the customer experience in a variety of ways. Make sure you hire the right employees with diligence and care. And show them that you understand that the candidate experience drives the employee experience, which drives the customer experience.  What does your recruiting process and candidate experience say about your brand?

You’re not just recruiting employees but are sowing the seeds of your reputation. -Unknown