I think we’ve got it all wrong.
Not because of stupidity or ignorance, but out of the goodness of our hearts and by wearing rose tinted glasses when looking at reality.
I am talking about the way we, the recruitment industry, treat candidates as consumers and put them at the heart of the entire recruitment process. It is no wonder that suddenly we have all these misguided initiatives, such as talent communities, based on misguided principles of candidate engagement.
At the moment, there is a desire to treat candidates as consumers. Why should there be a difference between Amazon’s shopping experience and customer service and those seen in recruitment? If the best in class are consumer centric, let’s all become candidate centric. If the consumer wants to chat, connect, follow, like, well let’s transfer it to the recruitment world and create talent communities, social referral programs, follow company features…you name it.
But does that make sense when looking at the underlying principle of job seeking?
A candidate wants to find a relevant job quickly (and relevance here is based around their personal situation, i.e., travel time, money needed to pay mortgages, flexibility to deal with outside-of-work-and-equally-as-important-if-not-more-important-things), because believe it or not, jobseeking is at best a frustrating experience and candidates have far more interesting things to do.
Delivering against this principle requires balance between candidates and recruiters, not candidate-centricity: There is only value in each one if they are both connected. One isn’t more important than the other and one isn’t equal to the other, they are unique and different yet intrinsically linked.
Candidates are suppliers of data
To achieve the best results for candidates, let’s treat jobseekers as suppliers instead of consumers:
Candidates supply us with data (resume, applications, profile updates, search behaviour, etc.). At Amazon, authors supply us with data (books). These authors aren’t the consumers, they are the suppliers. Following this logic, the recruiter/hiring manager becomes the reader/ consumer, the one that pays, the one that goes through the checkout.
Or to compare it with supermarkets, the data are the blueberries. The candidate is the supplier/farmer of the blueberries and the recruiter/hiring manager is the consumer of the blueberries.
If applied, it can lead to some intriguing consequences, with immense positives for everybody involved.
Hiring Managers/Recruiters – as the consumer, you’ll finally be treated like one. The more convenience you want in your shopping, the more you will be prepared to pay. The better the experience you want, again, the more you’ll pay. And like a shopper of blueberries, let’s ensure that what you buy is relevant, fresh and tasty. The interactions are daily and the value comes from the loyal and returning customer.
While this is already – at least in parts – relatively common, it is often still more driven by process than customer centricity. Hiring managers are perceived purely as a business representative instead as an individual following the same buying decision making patterns as consumers. It therefore also makes absolute sense to direct more of the brand building budget towards the hiring manager and move from (or merge and enhance) a B2B approach to a B2C approach.
Candidates are suppliers of luxury items
Candidates – as the supplier, they’ll be treated like one. Without suppliers there is no commerce. Suppliers of luxury items – and that is what a job change is – are very influential and powerful. So treat them accordingly.
Marketing principles of Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning, combined with the 4Cs, still apply. The mind shift is about appreciating that applying for a job is a business interaction with a very rational underpinning, driven mainly by economic desire or necessity.
Some suppliers will be able to demand higher value and services than others. At the same time, the supplier is responsible for their produce. If it isn’t selling, if it doesn’t receive the same attention and promotion as other products in this supermarket of talent, it is the supplier/candidate’s responsibility to change it accordingly. Like any other brand, there are three avenues open to him: Differentiation, Price, Niche.
It also alters the demands on the supermarket of talent: Produce of suppliers must be delivered in a timely fashion. When the product hits the shelves it should be fresh, anticipated, desired, even teased and marketed to increase the sales volume.
It also, however, becomes important that seasonality is appreciated. I can only sell my blueberries when they are ready to be picked. Yes, I can greenhouse them, freeze them, but that has an impact on taste. So trying to engage the supplier of the resume and job seeking data outside the season is irrational, a waste of energy and ultimately damages the consumer relationship and puts unnecessary and often economically unjustifiable demands on the supplier.
Seeking out the best suppliers, inclusion into the supply chain management to ensure smooth and coordinated delivery (such as picking up the goods at the farm, helping to package them in the most attractive way, sharing insights and metrics) makes good sense.
Negotiating exclusivity, offering advice on how to achieve higher sales, marketing and better shelf space for top performing items or ranges that the supermarket of talent is interested in highlighting is important. A little more B2B than B2C would go a long way. This might sound odd, but it ultimately delivers against the performance metrics set out by the candidate and would actually give the candidate a better, more important and market led standing in the recruitment process.
Candidates are not valued as suppliers
You know where it all falls down?
It’s when value is being distributed. Let’s revisit Amazon: The author of a book is paid a slice of the sales value. The same happens with the blue berry producer.
But, the value that most supermarkets of talents and personal shoppers hand to the suppliers is not a real appreciation of their value, i.e. a slice of the sales value, but only a pat on the shoulder with the sentiment of “Be happy that you found a job”. Until we treat candidates like suppliers and allocate real value to their data, the recruitment process will always be uneven. That’s what we need to change.
photo credit: davydubbit