How to Treat Your Candidates More Like Customers

By Adam DeMarco

The US unemployment rate, most recently pegged at 3.7%, is fueling a very competitive job market and driving up demand for top talent. Employers looking for strategies to attract prime candidates in this environment should be emulating the best practices of their customer care teams to develop a more candidate-friendly hiring process that treats job seekers like valued customers.

The five tips outlined here can help you treat candidates more like customers to ensure job seekers have a positive experience throughout the hiring process:

1. Respond quickly and keep candidates engaged. One of the most common factors contributing to a negative candidate experience is lack of communication. Companies make it a practice to respond to customers in a timely manner and should be communicating just as consistently with job seekers. It should be part of your process to thank each candidate for their application and keep them informed on when they will hear back from you. Responding quickly to candidates and making sure that no one is left waiting for an answer can ensure that your company gets an opportunity to interview the most qualified candidates before your competition.

2. Keep the process simple. Many candidates are put off by a lengthy or complicated application process. Just as your company wants to make it easy for a customer to have a good buying experience, simplifying the application process goes a long way to favorably impact candidate perception of your hiring process. You can make the application process easy for job seekers by allowing them to upload their resume or apply using their social media profiles. It’s also important be transparent about the entire application and hiring process. Keeping things simple and setting expectations helps streamline the process to eliminate any unnecessary hurdles throughout the application process.

3. “Sell” your company. Treating a candidate like a customer involves pitching your company just as a sales person would pitch a product or service to a prospective buyer. Your hiring manager should be able to sell talent on the benefits of working for your company. This includes articulating why a candidate would be a great fit for your company and being able to knowledgeably address specific requirements of the role and topics like company culture and professional development.

4. Provide feedback. Feedback is another important component of the communication process with candidates. For candidates that make it deep into the recruiting process, it is a good idea to ditch the rejection form letter and personalize feedback to let them know why they weren’t chosen for the position. According to the Human Capital Institute, “Ninety-four percent of job seekers want interview feedback, and job seekers are four times more likely to consider a company for a future opportunity when they receive constructive feedback.”

5. Ask for feedback. A tried and true method companies use to improve customer service is to request feedback. Using a similar process, you should request feedback from your job candidates. In the age of social media and review sites, candidates will share their experiences — good and bad — whether you ask for feedback or not. Surveying all your candidates to find out how their recruitment experience went can help you continuously improve your processes and give your company a competitive edge for attracting the best talent.

Just like consumers shop for products and services, job candidates are leveraging the competitive job market to shop for the right role. Treating your candidates like customers can capture these “shoppers,” securing top professionals for your roles.

Adam DeMarco is director of recruiting at Loyal Source, where he oversees the company’s healthcare recruiting department as well as internal hiring, marketing and business operations.