What if Employers Treated Their Job Candidates Like Customers?

Recruiting teams should look to the hospitality industry and their customer experience teams as a benchmark for job candidate treatment.

When recruiting firms and HR departments identify a potential job applicant they engage in a rigorous evaluation process.  What may not be as obvious is that evaluation occurs in both directions.  The job prospect is also making an evaluation.  He or she is judging the competence, integrity, candor, and courtesy of the recruiter.  How a job prospect is treated is a direct reflection of the quality, values, and professionalism of the recruiter and the organization that hired them.

It is detrimental to the reputation of a recruiting firm to treat job seekers in a shoddy or dismissive manner.  Professional communities are now so large as to ignore callous, rude, or self-serving practices.  Reputations are precious commodities.  Furthermore, recruiters are representatives of the organizations that employ them.  Rude, inattentive, or condescending practices also reflect negatively on those companies.

I believe that we should apply the principles and practices of customer satisfaction to the recruiting process.  The job seeker should be treated with respect and dignity and understanding at all times.  Proper, polite, and considerate treatment begins with the terminology used to describe him or her.  The most common term for a person looking for a new job or career is “candidate.”   This is an impersonal and slightly frosty word loaded with negative connotations.  The most common association of the word is with a politician seeking elected office.  This is not a warm, positive, or even respectful way to refer to someone seeking a new job, as most people rank politicians slightly above used car salesmen.

Many contexts in which the word “candidate” is used are impersonal, belittling, and negative: “He is a candidate for the poor house”; “The candidate is taking an exam”; “The HR department is a likely candidate for staff cuts.”  And, of course, there is the “Manchurian candidate.”   Introducing the concept of customer satisfaction in the recruiting process begins, then, with abandoning the term “candidate” and referring to him or her as a “customer” or “client” or “applicant.”  Perhaps even more important, we should think of the individual as a customer or client or applicant.  They are indispensable and irreplaceable to recruiting firms.  They keep the lights on.

I believe recruiters and HR departments should provide a customer satisfaction experience for all job applicants.  I would like to see us build an open and cordial relationship throughout the hiring process.  This practice will be welcomed by the client and advantageous for the recruiter.  As competition increases in recruitment, creating a customer satisfaction experience will, I think, provide a competitive edge.

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