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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.


  • Jerry says:

    Being more considerate of each candidate’s experience is important for the well-being of the organization. The experience people have with your recruiting process will more than likely affect their perception of your organization as a whole. This can affect sales, word of mouth, social media sharing and other marketing efforts from some of your customers.

  • Olga says:

    Being nice to candidates isn’t just about the fundamentals of customer service; it’s just being polite and treating candidates as human beings, not just resumes. Respect your candidates enough to keep them informed throughout the hiring process and it’ll be one of the smartest ways to improve your candidate care.

  • Shawna says:

    I agree that to inform the candidate about outcome of the interview would be polite enough not to spoil one’s reputation. I think every company should at least have one template acknowledging receipt of a resume and one informing candidates that they didn’t make the cut. If I go through all the trouble of applying to the firm, spending my annual leave and money to go to the interview, the least the potential employer can do is tell me they haven’t selected me, and why.

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