Job seekers are customers, “two”

Feedback from my NY Times article, and a lesson in not turning a blind eye to your customer experience.

I received a great response to my May 31 New York Times article.

I’ve heard from many individuals who are either currently looking for a job or have in the recent past.  They shared numerous stories of recruiting and selection processes gone bad — and provided even more evidence that few companies view and treat their job seekers through a customer lens.

I’ve also heard from some business executives, including one CEO, who were already converts to this philosophy — offering their own stories of how they, and their companies, try to stand out from the crowd by treating job seekers with unusual kindness, respect and professionalism.  They have seen that such an approach pays back in spades.

Still, with the majority of feedback originating from job seekers (not hirers), it still looks like we have a ways to go before most companies will recognize (as Southwest Airlines has) the power of a customer-oriented recruiting process.

Consider this 2008 statistic from the Gallup Organization:  According to their survey, 70% of job seekers had a frustrating experience while applying for a job.  Half of those said such experiences made them reconsider whether they wanted to work for the company involved.  Gallup didn’t ask if the experiences made them reconsider ever patronizing the firm as a customer, but you can probably guess what the response would have been.

Business and HR executives are human.  And it’s human nature to want to believe that what your organization is doing is hitting the mark with its customers.  But that can often blind business people from the truth — and prevent them from seeking out real, hard evidence to confirm (or refute) their suspicions.

Whether with regard to your consumer experience, your employee experience or your job seeker experience — resist the temptation to think that everything is just swell.  Dig into the details and don’t be afraid of what you might find.  If the experience is failing or unfulfilling in some way, better to know that now and try to correct it — before more of your customers, employees or job seekers defect to a competitor.