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The Age of Candidate-as-Consumer is Here: How Companies Enhance Their Brand Through Hiring

Most people have had an experience with a store or firm that was so unpleasant or unengaging that they never returned. That’s why companies care so much about their customers’ end-to-end experience or the “customer journey.”

But should companies care just as much about the “candidate journey”?

A growing body of research argues yes. U.S. job openings are at record highs, which means companies must compete for quality candidates. That competition isn’t just about offering higher wages or better working conditions–it’s also about wooing candidates throughout the hiring process itself. Companies who give little thought to the candidate experience risk alienating candidates with better, more engaging experience. This “candidate-as-consumer” mindset is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon thanks to the “yelpification” of hiring; Millennials and other generations are used to assessing companies online and through social networks before making a purchase and are unlikely to give up the habit when it comes to finding jobs.

Companies had better start creating candidate journeys that boost their brand as strongly as customer journeys– and here’s how:

Adopting User-Friendly Tech

Online hiring platforms promise companies exposure to a larger talent pool than they would typically have access to, but in practice, their cumbersome design often alienates quality candidates. Recruiting processes in the past have shown little regard for candidates’ time–one study found that while 70% of employers surveyed believed candidates spent less than an hour preparing and submitting a job application, the process typically took candidates three to four hours.  This is why 60% of candidates have abandoned a job application–because it was too long or complicated.  To add insult to injury, companies often use preliminary screening software to sort through applications and resumes–which means many quality applications never get seen by human eyes.

Recruiters and companies need to provide user-friendly tech that rewards and incentivizes the time-intensive labor candidates pour into their applications. uses blockchain for data storage, which keeps candidate, company, and recruiter profile information (such as biometric identity and verified credentials) tamper-proof and private. A blockchain token economy incentivizes candidates to create robust, verified profiles, so they’re rewarded for the hard work they put into their job search. Companies can commit to candidate-centered hiring by moving to these more efficient platforms.

Excelling at the Interpersonal

One of the most important consumer-facing branding strategies companies have is relating to their customers like real people, rather than cogs in their business plan. Building an effective candidate-facing brand requires the same attitude; and just as effectively branded companies practice excellent customer service,  companies must also ensure that candidates’ face-to-face interactions are positive. 83% of candidates have changed their mind about a company they liked after a negative interview experience, while 87% changed their mind about a company they doubted after a positive one.

Humanizing the recruiting process extends to following-up beyond the interview or application. Candidates who never hear about their decision on their application after submitting it are 3.5x less likely to re-apply to a different position at the same company. Companies who alienate a candidate they reject as not-quite-perfect for one position lose out on the chance to put them in a different, more appropriate position.

Espousing Social Values

Customers want to identify with their brands’ social values. One study found that two-thirds of consumers want companies to weigh in on social issues, and another found that 86% of consumers expect companies to act on social and environmental issues. Sometimes, these consumers are job candidates, and they care about the values of their employers.

Millennials–who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025–feel particularly strongly–76%–about a company’s social values before deciding where to work, and 64% won’t work for an employer that lacks strong corporate responsibility principles. There’s now a third reason for companies to create and talk about social responsibility: not only is it the right thing to do and a great way to engage customers, but it’s also crucial to attracting prime millennial talent.

Managing Social Media and Online Presence Effectively

Virtually every company now practices online brand management. And companies looking to improve their candidate-facing branding can look to consumer-facing online branding for help. Brands can design pleasing websites and online storefronts, send targeted and relevant communications, and respond promptly and politely to customer service issues and negative feedback posted online. Poor online branding has consequences among candidates as well as consumers; studies show that 91% of job seekers think bad online design damages a potential employers’ brand. Meanwhile, responsive social media practices and web design that showcases company values can boost brands in the eyes of both customers and candidates.

Companies must also stay aware of their online reputation outside their own web properties. Most job seekers read six or more online reviews on sites such as when considering an employer. Garnering good reviews requires providing positive employee and candidate experiences–and companies can get an idea of how they’re excelling or falling short by reading online feedback.

If you’re looking to hire some new employees this year (or at any point in the future), don’t underestimate the importance of your brand. Poor design, dehumanizing recruiting practices, and unclear company values can all alienate quality candidates. However, companies who protect and boost their brand through candidate-centered recruiting can gain an edge over their competitors.

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