You should treat every single candidate like a customer!
You should treat every employee like a customer!
You should treat every stakeholder of your organization like a customer!
You should treat every vendor you work with like a customer!
You should treat every customer like a…hey, wait a minute!
Can we break down the strategy of treating every candidate like a customer? Do we really mean this? Because I have to be honest. I don’t see us treating our customers very well!
Here’s the problem with treating everyone the same – all these groups are not the same! They have different desires and different needs. I need to treat my employees differently than I treat my vendors. I need to treat my customers differently than I treat my candidates.
Okay, I get it. Yes, “potentially” your candidates might be one of your customers. They also might not be, and it is possible they will never be a customer depending on your business. Also when a candidate is going through the process of hiring, they are playing the role of “Candidate”. They, at that moment, is not playing the role of the customer!
Can you imagine if they were? As a customer, when I am spending my money with you my expectations are way different than when I’m applying for a job with you.
Why is this a lazy talent acquisition strategy?
Quite simply, strategy is a plan of action designed to obtain a specific objective. Attracting talent to your company and attracting customers to your company are different for 99.99% of organizations.
It is extremely rare that my experience as a customer will be, or should be, the same experience I get as a customer. One big difference is your customers pay you for a product or service. With this exchange of compensation, there are expectations that must be met. Unless you are making candidates pay you, or unless you are paying them to apply, this relationship is very different.
Saying to treat your candidates like customers is lazy because it is not specific enough on the how and why. Saying, “Well, our candidates are also our customers.” Also, doesn’t speak to the vast difference between these two roles.
We know this is lazy because the data behind how we actually treat candidates would put us out of business if we treat our customers the same way! If we never told our customers where their product was once they ordered, we would have very upset customers. We constantly don’t tell our candidates where they are in our hiring “service”!
How do we become less lazy?
To start, actually have a strategy around hiring and candidates. Asses in seats is not a strategy! Just filling jobs is not a strategy. What should candidates expect from you? And, how can you ensure that expectation is met 100% of the time? That’s really hard to answer and do!
We tend to build these massive TA strategies and fail because we can’t come close to meeting our aspirations. The key to a great TA strategy is simplicity and execution. What can we deliver to a candidate every single time? How do we make sure all candidates understand this? Then let’s measure this and make sure we aren’t lying to ourselves.
The last piece is to truly understand the difference between our customers and our candidates. As a TA leader, might we actually treat our candidates better than our customers sometimes? Maybe. It depends on how desperate you are for talent vs. customers. I can tell you that your marketing, sales, and operations are definitely building and adjusting customer attraction strategies, and they would likely laugh at the thought of treating customers like candidates!
The maxim “your candidates are also your customers” is too simplified when it comes to building a great TA strategy. One you have to critically analyze in regards to fit, competence, etc. The other you take money from. Don’t be lazy!
If you Google “Tim Sackett” you’ll find our Tim, and a truck driver chaplain. Our Tim is NOT the truck driver chaplain, although how awesome would that be if he was!? He is a prolific writer in the HR and TA space who just happens to also run an Engineering and IT contract staffing agency (HRU Technical Resources) out of Michigan. He also writes every day at his own blog, the Tim Sackett Project. Weirdly, he’s known as an expert in workplace hugging, which was kind of cool years ago, but now seems painfully creepy, but we still love him and he’s fairly harmless. Tim is also on the board of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), lifetime Michigan State Spartan fan, husband to a Hall of Fame wife, 3 sons, and his best friend Scout. He also wrote a book with SHRM called The Talent Fix, you can find it on Amazon.