According to the Candidate Experience Survey of 2012, over 53% of candidates indicated that they had an existing relationship with a company prior to applying there, either as a customer, an advocate, or through family/friends already at the company. It’s only a matter of time before that percentage grows into the 80s or 90s. It’s clear that recruiters need to start looking at candidates as customers as well.
For a candidate, the application process is similar to that of purchasing a product. Similar thought processes and time investments are required. On average, a job seeker spends 45 minutes filling out an application or buying into the company. When a job seeker is looking and applying for jobs, they are buying into your brand and atmosphere. Like any other company, your brand and communication should be consistent. Keeping a job seeker interested in your product or company is essential when it comes to the application process. Having a high abandonment rate is something that needs to be addressed in your recruitment strategy. If your hiring process or company culture is lacking, word spreads fast. This can make you miss out on future opportunities with the best job seekers, who trust the opinions and suggestions of their friends.
The ability to look at the candidate as a customer speaks volumes when that customer is a referral. When it comes to referrals, the numbers don’t lie: referrals are #1 in terms of quality of new hires. 46% of those hired on a referral basis are retained after one year, compared to 33% of those from career sites and 22% from job boards. More than that, top-performing employees are 1 to 3 from referrals, 1 to10 from job boards, and 1 to 18 from all other sources. Not only are referrals staying longer, but they are also better employees.
Recruiters need to start using the customer-service model for recruitment. This involves timely and efficient communication during all stages of the hiring process. The candidates should feel respected and valued at all points. One of the biggest challenges in the human resources arena is the lack of communication throughout each stage of the candidates’ applying process. We’ve never seen our candidates as customers before. Taking a proactive approach to communication and delivering on your promises to candidates goes a long way towards fixing this problem.
As companies look to newer technologies and methods of recruitment, their number one focus should be the applicant experience. Regardless of the quality of each applicant, 73% vocalize their positive experiences to their inner circle and 61% vocalize their negative experiences. When it comes to purchasing power, 57% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product after receiving recommendations from a close friend. There aren’t statistics out there yet on the likelihood of not purchasing because of a bad experience, but it’s likely that these numbers coincide. If someone has a horrible experience applying for a job, they are more likely not to shop at that business.
It’s more important than ever to think of a candidate as a customer because their influence is going to speak volumes on your brand. Even if they don’t get the job, if you treat them well throughout the process they will continue shopping at your business, and they might even try applying again in the future. Companies all over have been able to build successful brands that incorporate treating all levels of customers as potential buyers. Don’t ever let go of the principle that when a customer is applying, they are buying your brand.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.