I earned an undergraduate degree in marketing. However, my first jobs out of college were in finance then talent management, and by the time I earned my MBA I didn’t give much thought to that original marketing emphasis. I mean, after all, I hadn’t ever worked in a marketing role, specifically.
Until one day I realized that the recruiting world is, in fact, marketing. And for years since, I have been telling organizations that recruiting is now marketing and marketing is now recruiting. If a company doesn’t know what makes them better or different, they will compete for talent based on price/salary—which is not a good place to be. First of all, price is too easily beat by bigger employers with deeper pockets. And secondly, it’s not a true differentiator anymore, particularly for millennial professionals who value purpose and impact above salary.
Marketing can help overcome this hurdle.
I’ve worked with plenty of companies that bend over backwards to make sure their customers are taken care of, catered to, and prioritized. We train our sales and marketing teams on how to respond to certain questions, how to address issues and benefits of their products and services—to help differentiate themselves from the competition. We build massive customer service teams to address customer concerns about return policies, product functions and troubleshooting. These teams are measured by key performance indicators such as customer retention, Net Promoter Scores, conversion rates, average resolution time, complaint escalation rate, average reply rate, average first reply time and customer satisfaction, to name just a handful. Most of these should lead to higher sales, retention and customer satisfaction, which all helps to build the company brand. Customers, in turn, measure how they are treated and how quickly those issues are resolved to their liking to determine if they are going to purchase or come back.
So what does all of this have to do with the world of talent acquisition? Everything! In fact, you ought to be reeling right now from the two-by-four that just hit you upside the head. If you can’t see the correlation—and the gap that exists in your recruiting and employee retention strategies—then you might be in big trouble.
I often hear from companies that their most important asset is talent. But few are actually behaving as though that is true. Companies need to understand that employees are customers. Job candidates and potential candidates are your target market. So, how are you treating those “customers”?
Not great, in many cases.
On a weekly basis, I meet with individuals searching for new opportunities. Time and again they tell me about employers whose customer service toward job applicants is nothing short of terrible. These companies are turning away valuable talent that they should be working hard to attract and retain, because they do not see their candidates as customers worth serving.
I often hear insight such as this: “I applied for a position early Sunday morning and got a rejection response back by Sunday afternoon. Either that’s a ‘bot or somebody is working on a Sunday—and I don’t want to work there in either of those situations.” To which recruiters will retort that they just don’t have the time to invest in each individual. My response is—why not?
We talk about how important talent is, that everyone is looking for it and it’s a competitive environment out there, but we treat job seekers like crap. Bottom line, employers need to decide: What’s more important—your customers or your talent? You can’t maximize your potential for the customers without the right talent. And if you believe your talent is your top priority, then why are you not putting forth resources to improve your “customer satisfaction”?
Don’t forget, your culture is not just internal. It includes everyone that comes into contact with your organization, how they were treated, and whether that matches the values you claim. If you think this isn’t an issue in your organization—are you so sure? Because if you’re struggling to get great candidates or to keep your top talent, then consider why. Employees talk. Candidates talk. Word spreads. If your organization becomes known in the talent pool as one that doesn’t truly value its employees or its applicants, well, it should be obvious by now—you aren’t going to get the best candidates no matter how much you offer to pay them.
Let’s wrap this up on a positive note. In addition to all the negative feedback, I am also hearing about some companies that everybody wants to work for—because they are known for treating their employees and their applicants well. Don’t you want to be one of those companies? Your customer service teams know that the little things make a huge difference, so why don’t we start making some little steps toward improving your talent customer service as well.
I’m happy to start some conversations around this topic. Reach out and let’s talk. I look forward to hearing from you!