Brands need to treat candidates like consumers

Recruitment can be a costly business. Get recruitment decisions wrong and the price a company pays can be considerable. However, it's not just avoiding poor decisions that needs to be high on an organisation's list of priorities. Job seekers that endure rather than enjoy the candidate experience a company provides can end up being extremely costly too. A poor candidate experience can be a major turn off, driving them away from a brand from a consumer perspective as well.

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Indeed, negative candidate experiences can cost brands millions. This is why brands need to treat their candidates as if they were their consumers. The old adage 'the customer is always right' still rings true. Increasingly, your candidates will be your consumers too. Even if they not, a poor candidate experience might lead them to influence others and lose a brand many other existing or potential consumers.

A poor candidate experience can easily turn people off that brand for life. It is often said that an interview is a 'two way process'. In the past, this may have been said, at times, without much conviction. In the here and now it is certainly true. Candidates naturally feel under the spotlight and the microscope during the recruitment and interview process, but the employers on the other side of the interviewing table are equally under scrutiny, as is a brand's reputation. 

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It's unsurprising that an individual who has a negative candidate experience might decide to 'blank' that brand from that point on and choose to buy another company's products or services. The damage that can be created can run far deeper than this, however. The comments of a disgruntled and dissatisfied candidate on social media or a review site can now be shared, potentially, with an audience of millions in a matter of a few seconds. A single poor experience can lead to serious damage to a brand.

Talent should be treated like consumers. Surveys show that the candidate experience is more revealing and more representative of a brand than its customer experience. It stands to reason that treating a potential employee as you would a potential customer makes good commercial sense.

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HR is increasingly becoming a consumer-facing role. The recruitment process needs to be an experience that puts candidates first. Not all candidates can be successful, but all can be left with a positive impression of a brand.

Recruiters are also marketers in everything but name. Branding is now an intrinsic part of recruitment. The employer brand and employee value proposition, in essence, are marketing materials. As the traditional lines of internal and external communications become increasingly blurred, transparency and openness is now the order of the day. Social media, particularly, enables recruits to look through a window into an organisation.

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Recruitment needs to be people-centred. Any brand experience is valuable, and a candidate experience is no different from a customer experience in this regard. Both have the potential to entice and persuade, but both have the potential to have negative consequences too.

Simon BBThis article was written by Simon Benford-Blows, Director - RPO, Talent Acquisition, EVP, Recruitment, Outsourcing, MSP, VMS, Graduate & internship, Workforce Planning at Pertemps.

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