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Online Business Success

The Importance Of Treating Your Candidates As Well As Your Customers


Nicky Garcea is co-founder, chief customer officer of Cappfinity, and a chartered industrial and organizational psychologist.

In the United States, more than ever before, people are handing in their notice without another job to go to. Some are leaving managers, organizations, or sectors. Because of the pandemic, many candidates are wrestling with values in the workplace in a few ways: What does this company value? Will I be valued? Can I bring value?

In many cases, people are re-evaluating what’s important, and what work means to them. Looking at the behavioral science at play, people are re-establishing their sense of purpose. They are questioning how they provide and receive value at work. They are looking for roles and experiences that they believe will provide them with value, and places where they will be valued. Some of the behavior we are seeing in the workforce is like what you might see when people have experienced a life-changing event or trauma.

Also concerning, according to a recent study from Microsoft, Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized. Sixty percent of this generation — those between the ages of 18 and 25 — say they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling right now. Add to that workforce data from LinkedIn, which suggests there is significant interest in remote roles — as searches have increased by 60% and applications have more than doubled. These candidates are looking for flexibility.

There are several reasons why The Great Resignation/Realignment is happening: less movement during the pandemic, natural churn, and problems in the supply chain. But while the talent shortages and supply chain issues are real, the bigger challenge is cultivating a strong candidate pool. The pandemic and this wider period of uncertainty has created a worldwide moment of workplace reflection. We are in an unprecedented time of re-evaluation across nearly every demographic and every industry, and it’s manifesting in things that organizations can adequately prepare for in terms of human resources. At this moment and possibly for the long term, organizations need to rethink their approaches, and in doing so, treat their candidates as well as they treat their customers.

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Looking At The Business Impact

What are the consequences of failing to take a new look at candidate engagement? First, negative word of mouth among candidates can sour a company’s reputation. This can quickly spread through a candidate’s social media and professional networks, resulting in fewer candidates applying for open roles in that organization. Then, there’s the problem of losing talent to a long list of competitors. This is particularly prevalent in the tech sector. There are real and substantial costs associated with not filling roles such as missed sales goals, delayed product deliveries, or botched product launches. And it doesn’t stop there, as this can spill over and cause poor customer experiences as well.

People have been career transferring for many years; it’s just never been seen on this scale before. In some cases, candidates are looking for jobs where they can take on new career challenges and transfer their skills. If you look at professions like nursing and teaching, many of those individuals have strengths and behaviors that would be attractive to other organizations. Hospitality workers have easily transferable customer service skills as well.

So how can businesses manage these challenges? Emphasizing strengths and skills versus years of experience in a particular field is key to attracting candidates that might be in transition. In organizations such as large retail banks, there may be thousands of applicants for a few positions. This is an opportunity to engage candidates so that they’ll consider other openings.  Seizing this opportunity can support your talent pipeline.

Improving Candidates’ Experiences

Organizations can empower a candidate to apply and stay engaged in the recruitment process. It starts with open communication, so the candidate feels informed. As they go through the recruitment process, it should be educational, so the candidate feels as though they are getting to know the organization. If a candidate does not move on in the recruitment process, offering feedback can help the candidate adjust their strategy. That way, their desire to apply for other roles remains intact, as well as their opinion of the company.

Be Human

People are customers before they become a candidate. They have a perception of your organizational values and beliefs, so early interactions should be congruent. As workforce shortages continue, there’s a growing need for personal approaches, genuine communication, and emotional intelligence throughout the candidate experience. In this massive period of uncertainty, experience is everything.

Now is the time to be as intentional with candidates as we are with our customers.

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