Why Job Candidates Are Demanding The Customer Experience (And What You Can Do About It)

In today’s labor market, job seekers have more options available to them than many years past. So, the candidate is now in control of the application process, while businesses try desperately to attract top-tier talent. Sound familiar?

With this new influx of open job positions, new issues surrounding recruitment have risen to discourage candidates from applying to certain companies. For example, 60% of job seekers are unimpressed by time-consuming recruitment processes and are demanding companies create a more modern experience (Greenhouse).

This is just one of the many complaints I’ve heard from job seekers in the recruitment space throughout my career. So in order to put yourself in the shoes of your candidates, I find it’s best explained through a more familiar experience first.


The Customer Experience


Not long ago, I headed to St. Louis for a speaking gig. When my plane arrived in the early evening, the airline told me they had somehow lost my bag and I was stuck without clothes until potentially the next morning.

Now I started to panic a little because I had to be on camera the next day at 9am, so I took a taxi to the nearby Nordstrom. I walked in and asked a salesman in the men’s department if he’d seen the movie Pretty Woman, because I needed a whole new wardrobe — stat.

For the next hour, this gentleman fit me for pants, shirts, shoes, socks, the works. He even had their seamstress do a quick hem on my pants and advised me where else in the mall I should go for toiletries and accessories, because he knew I was new to town and had no idea where anything was.

In spite of every thought and emotion going through my mind, this salesman was calm, pleasant, understood my needs and put me at ease right away. He took care of me, took pride in his work, ensured I looked good and accommodated my every need — even though I came in 30 minutes before closing with a big problem to solve. I felt like I mattered to him, like I was important.

The customer service here — therefore, the customer experience — was absolutely incredible, and I would shop at Nordstorm every time based on this one exceptional experience, if only there was one closer to me. This level of care is the epitome of the customer experience.

Now on the other end of this spectrum, I have a second story to demonstrate how the customer experience can also look.

I went out for dinner with my family to a burger and beer-type joint. And you know how these kind of evenings go: you pop in for a bite, you chat and then you head out.

Well, this particular outing turned into a 2-hour event: there was a wait to get in, our service was slow, and at some point, our waitress just disappeared. She didn’t hand us off or tell us she was leaving for the day — she just left without a trace. Experiences like this don’t leave the customer feeling very good, and this was beyond reasonable expectation.

Now we all know there are some things you can’t control in the customer experience, like being short-staffed or long wait times, and that’s understandable. The hospitality industry, like most industries, is struggling to find good or enough people, and customers need to understand that.

But business owners also need to understand that the customers are the priority. No matter what’s happening, the customer should know they are the priority. Even if you’re busy or struggling, tell them you’re doing the best with what you have, and you might be surprised at how their perception of your business changes.

The dichotomy between these two experiences truly demonstrates the power of the customer experience and how a business is perceived based on how people are treated.

So let me ask you a question:

What if your business could make candidates feel how Nordstorm made me feel? The customer experience is not all that different from how candidates experience your business for the first time.


The Candidate Experience


If you remember me talking about your company’s employment brand, then you’ll understand that the candidate experience is one piece of this important puzzle.

What is it truly like to interact with your organization? When considering how candidates engage with a new company, I like to compare the path to employment with the path to marriage.

First, you start by reviewing a resume to see if your candidate is a match, which is not much different than checking someone’s social media or online dating profile. Next, you invite them for an interview to test the waters, much like a nervous first date. If things go well, you’ll introduce your candidate to the rest of your team, and your date to your friend group and family.

The sooner you can start building a relationship, the better. Because once you get to know each other, you start opening up and possibly sharing some of your skeletons so the person can accept who you are, strengthening your bond. There’s a progression that has to happen, and in business, it must move quickly — especially in today’s labor market. However, it’s crucial for this budding relationship to be authentic.

The speed and ease of shifting your candidate from transactional feelings to an initial relationship with your organization are what will differentiate you from your competitors.

Many organizations act as though the candidate must come in and impress in order to be hired, but this is an old way of thinking. The organization is as equally responsible to impress the candidate, as the candidate is to the organization.

It’s up to the organization to share its story with the candidate, and this is what most employers are missing these days. People today want to know who your business is, what it stands for and what it can do for them. And if it doesn’t impress the candidate, they move on.

And by story, I’m not just referring to the words your business shares about who it is as a company, but the experience as a whole: How do you treat your employees; how active are you online; what resources are available; what do you value? It doesn’t matter what level of position the candidate is applying for — people care, and this is the new reality.


Customer Experience = Candidate Experience


So as an organizational leader, you want to control the narrative and create proper expectations for your current and future candidates. Start building that relationship early so that when the time comes for your candidate to make a decision, it’s a no-brainer. Instead of hemming and hawing, they think, “Now, why wouldn’t I take this position?”

Your recruitment process is the first interaction a candidate has with your organization, and it can show them what working with you might look like — now and in the future. If a candidate really wants to work for your company, but the recruitment process is clunky, the hiring process slow, or the decision-making non-existent, they’re going to go somewhere else.

Now that you see the candidate and customer experience are one and the same, you have to start treating your candidates like customers — no exceptions.

If you’re ready to build out a modern recruitment process, refine your brand story and attract top-tier talent, contact me today