Job Applicants are Customers Too – Do They Feel Valued?

Regardless of the business the message to me, the customer, is always the same with a few variations.  We value your business – you’re important to us –what can we do to improve our service - we want to meet and exceed your expectations – your satisfaction is guaranteed.

And so it should be – if I’m an existing or potential customer then I really am an important asset and a costly one to acquire and cultivate.

But do I get that same great service oriented, warm fuzzy, welcoming feeling if I apply for a job at the same company?  Experience tells me NO!  For many businesses, recruiting has become a very low touch process.  At best an auto message is returned in response to a resume submission, but even that has all the warmth of a freezie.  Often it is little more than a disclaimer.  And most don’t even provide that.  Then there’s the heart-warming 5-6 question auto form that is submitted with your resume and you know if you don’t fit 100% into the narrowly crafted questions you’re spit out into the No pile.  I often hear from job applicants that they wonder if their resume has gone into some abyss because there is absolutely no follow up at all.

This raises two issues for me.  The first is the notion of the job applicant as existing or potential customer.  Marketing and Customer Loyalty are spending millions on attracting and retaining me, but is HR devaluing that investment when they completely ignore me?  Marketing and HR really need to get together on this!

Second, have we tried to make recruitment too much of a science?  Most employers I work with are looking for candidates who not only bring skill and experience, but are often looking for someone to bring a fresh perspective to the work.  Well, if you’re looking at candidates from the narrowest perspective possible, you’ll never identify that individual who is slightly outside of the mold but may bring far more value than the person who checked off yes to every question on the auto application form.

As an HR professional I totally get it - hiring the wrong person is high risk on several fronts.  However, I believe it’s time for businesses to ask themselves:

a) how many of their valued customers are they turning off through their recruitment process; and,

b) what unique candidates are we missing by using a low touch, scientific process and is it worth it to mitigate risk?

And one final thought, if this is a real issue for businesses, the stakes are even higher for non-profits and charities who rely on the donated dollar.

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