Candidates are customers too. Learn why recruiters have a responsibility to be brand ambassadors for their organisations at every step of the hiring process.
There’s nothing more disheartening for a candidate than a negative recruitment experience. Whether they’re ghosted by the recruitment team, confounded by a complex application process, or subjected to an unpleasant grilling at an interview, candidates commonly experience a sharp decline from initial excitement to bitter disappointment in the hiring organisation.
We know that poor recruitment practices can contribute to retention problems and are associated with high turnover costs. But there’s a bigger consideration, which not enough recruitment professionals take into account: candidates are customers too.
Edan Haddock, Talent Manager at flybuys, says there are around 8.5 million people who are engaged with the Australian loyalty program. The chances are therefore high that any candidate who goes through the flybuys recruitment process is also a customer.
“That’s why the branding aspect is important,” he begins. “We need to ensure there isn’t a breakdown between how our organisation is perceived from a commercial perspective and the candidate experience.” Edan’s dream outcome is for even unsuccessful candidates to come away from the process “feeling like a rockstar”, while the worst-case outcome would be for someone to feel that the experience was so bad that they’re not willing to be a flybuys member going forward.
Creating a seamless brand experience
According to Edan, consistency is key. In the case of flybuys, customers are treated to a highly targeted, personalised experience driven by the organisation’s analytics. “If I send communication to a candidate that doesn’t feel personalised, that’s an immediate breakdown between their experience as both a customer and a candidate,” he says.
Flybuys sees its brand as modern, fresh and authentic and endeavours to project an image of a forward-thinking start-up. For this reason, the talent team is careful to avoid:
- Clunky application processes
- Poor or insufficient communication with candidates
- Old-school interviews
- Bringing candidates into a chaotic office environment
- Online tools that function too dissimilarly from flybuys’ own app
It is up to the recruiter or talent manager to guarantee a consistently good experience. Edan admits he’s had to change some of his own habits in order to do so.
“In previous organisations I used to print out candidates’ CVs and scribble notes over them during the interview. But now that I’m representing flybuys, walking into the room with a paper CV in hand creates a breakdown. It’s the little things – but as you collect all those little things, it creates the bigger picture.”
Recruitment processes often give the candidate a chance to peek behind the curtain and see the real organisation at work. In a way, the recruiter is the concierge for people looking at your organisation and must ensure everything they see aligns with the company brand.
Key points in recruitment at which the brand is on display
1. Social media profiles
Edan sees a lot of people in talent acquisition whose professional social media profiles (i.e. LinkedIn) has nothing to do with the company they work for. “LinkedIn is an opportunity to represent the employer brand, promote the culture and the way your organisation works. It’s a way to attract people in,” he explains.
“If you’re working as a talent consultant, this is really a responsibility and a part of your role. If you have a problem with associating your social media profile with the organisation, that suggests your values may not align with those of the brand, and that organisation may not be the place for you.”
This doesn’t mean mindlessly parroting your organisation’s marketing copy on social media to create a soulless profile. The best profiles on LinkedIn combine a strong personal brand while simultaneously promoting the employer brand.
2. The careers page
Again, the employer brand on the company careers page should reflect the customer experience. The best career pages take the opportunity to show off a company’s ways of working, culture and values – something that’s often easier achieved in video rather than written format. The flybuys career page features a series of “a day in the life” videos, filmed on GoPro by existing employees, aimed at winning the interest of potential candidates.
3. The position description (PD)
PDs should incorporate the company assets (logos, fonts and so on), and should be written in the tone of voice set by your marketing team. It’s important to avoid defaulting into formulaic language often used in recruiting as this may clash with your organisation’s usual style.
For Edan, the PD is a branding opportunity he’s keen to improve. “Position descriptions feel a bit archaic to me”, he says. “They’re still published in Word format or PDF and come across as one of the few clunky points in an otherwise seamless digitised process.”
4. The interview
The interview experience is one of the key points at which a breakdown can occur between the customer and candidate experience. Edan describes a relaxed, chatty process at flybuys where interviewers avoid using an interrogatory approach and instead try to get to the core of the candidate’s personality.
What’s most important is consistency. If you work in an industry sector where candidates expect a more formal approach to interviews, being too casual or chatty – an approach that works for flybuys – could clash with your organisation’s brand.
5. Reference checking and assessment tools
Whether you conduct your own reference checks or partner with a background screening provider to do so, it’s the talent acquisition manager’s responsibility to ensure this part of the process is not cumbersome or unpleasant. Leading third-party platforms are designed to make the candidate’s user experience fast, simple, secure and as efficient as possible.
Flybuys also asks candidates to use its Values Assessment Tool. Branded in the same style as the company’s customer tools, the Values Assessment Tool is a quiz for prospective employees, designed to see which of the company values individuals connect with the most. “Branding is present and consistent at every step of the recruitment process,” Edan says.
“I’ve been in organisations where recruitment issues a contract and that’s where things stop,” says Edan. “Don’t let the experience break down at the point of the offer.”
Flybuys uses a third-party platform customised to the business to manage the onboarding process. Fully automated, it assists new employees from contract generation through to their induction process, including a welcome from the CEO, introductions to the leadership team, OH&S information, and more, all written in the same tone of voice flybuys uses to communicates with its customers.
Finally, one of the main reasons why employees walk away during their probation period is the discovery that the job or company culture hasn’t lived up to their expectations. “Honesty and authenticity are important – there’s little point in creating a seamless, world-class recruitment experience if it falls apart on the first day of employment,” says Edan.
Benefits of recruitment and marketing working together
A collaborative relationship between recruitment and marketing has benefits for both parties. Recruitment can help marketing drive a consistent message throughout the organisation and assist in meeting commercial outcomes by helping with customer retention targets. A consistent brand experience will ensure the candidate has the experience they would expect from interacting with your organisation as a customer.
ABOUT EDAN HADDOCK
Edan Haddock has been working in the recruitment industry for almost 10 years. A successful network-focussed agency recruiter, he made the transition to internal talent acquisition, as the National Talent Acquisition Manager at AIA Australia, and is currently designing and implementing the talent acquisition strategy and solution for flybuys. Edan is also an avid cyclist and enjoys anything and everything about food and wine.