Treat your candidates badly and you will hurt your company brand!
Treat your candidates as favourably as your customers and you will build a great company and employer brand!

Recruiters, it’s time to pull up a seat and place yourself in the shoes of a candidate!
Stop and take an honest reality check at how you are managing the candidate experience and delivering on your talent value chain from start to finish.

Candidate Experience is aligned to that of a Consumer

The candidate value chain is no different to how a company would view their customers, described as a “business concept that represents the creation of value for a customer. … the full range of activities — including design, production, marketing and distribution — businesses go through to bring a product or service from conception to delivery.” Look at the touch points and hoops that candidates have to jump through in order to engage with your company and more importantly place yourself on the receiving end as a customer who is purchasing a product or service from your company. How good or bad is their experience and, over and above having to navigate through your digital process of registering and/or applying for a position via your Applicant Tracking System or Database, do they have an option of connecting with a responsive human being who will receive them with the care and attention they are seeking?

Recruiters are Brand Marketers and Employer Brand Ambassadors:

With our high unemployment rate and economic uncertainty, candidates are desperately seeking job opportunities, thus candidate management by Recruiters are becoming critically and increasingly central to upholding your company brand reputation. The digital and technology-driven Fourth Revolution is causing positive, powerful disruption within the HR and recruitment workplace, with HR Leaders having to stand back and take a fresh look at how they are automating their recruitment and talent management processes; ensuring that it is not to the detriment of losing or overlooking the human connection. The increasing usage of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) gives way to untapped opportunity for savvy HR Leaders to shift legacy mind-sets and infrastructures and take a deliberate action on building strong teams of Recruiter brand ambassadors. Utilizing automation for the more mundane parts of the process provides Recruiters with the opportunity to focus on the important interpersonal phases of the recruitment process. Recruiters that are properly trained, groomed and developed to think like marketers and true employer brand ambassadors, can focus on serving their candidates as true consumers, offering them the candidate service excellence they deserve.

Mystery Shopping as a Candidate

Having recently conducted a Mystery Shopping Exercise as a Candidate applying for a few roles, where I must highlight that I was one of 200 plus candidates, I observed a number of thought provoking and interesting factors.

  1. Companies must not underestimate how truly influential Recruiters can be in impacting their employer brand, which can in fact influence their consumer and entire corporate brand. I encountered different levels of professionalism and efficiency in the manner in which my application was managed and processed – either feeling lost and like a number or being completely engaged. What mattered to me most was acknowledgement of my application, ongoing engagement and responsiveness, verbal interaction and updates etc.
    (80–90% of talent say a positive or negative candidate experience can change their minds about a role or company (Recruiting Brief).
  2. The progressive companies stood out immediately, as they had successfully merged the implementation of a slick, friction-less digital application process, which worked in tandem with their Recruiter ambassadors, who were quick and responsive in addressing my requests on the progress of my submission, personally in writing or verbally.
    (65% of job seekers say they never or rarely receive notice of their application status (Lever)
  3. On the other hand, levels of frustration hit an all-time high when faced with trying to gather additional information over and above the job specification; without being able to gain access to the “human” managing Recruiter. Understandably Recruiters are inundated with applications, but this is where human intervention is necessary to address the needs of the “candidate customer” and an opportunity to build employer brand credibility.
  4. Upon approaching one company wearing two hats as a consumer, whilst simultaneously responding to a position as a candidate, it was interesting to note how quick and responsive the company was to securing my business as the customer versus my poor experience as the job applicant. Again I emphasize that it is imperative for Recruiters to apply a consumer outlook in their approach to their candidates irrespective of whether they are the right fit for a role or not.
  5. Understandably SA Recruiters are often inundated with CV’s from desperate work seekers, are spoilt for choice in a candidate rich market and not always able to attend to each application personally, however Recruiters that are still utilizing the following “opt-out” statements can cast a negative message to candidates, especially when it is included in an advert upfront.
    “If you do not hear from us within 3 weeks please consider your application unsuccessful. If this is the case, please do not be discouraged from applying for suitable vacancies in the future.”
    Hopefully the introduction of AI into human resources will improve the candidate experience and take engagement down to the individual level by way of Recruiters being able to connect personally.

Takeaways to consider:

  • Candidates can become clients or customers (Manpower Group Solutions confirm that 54% of candidates say that a negative candidate experience makes them less likely to buy a company’s products/services)
  • Candidates are important brand ambassadors who can promote or fragment your brand (LinkedIn surveys confirm that nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and 72% have shared their experience on online employer review sites such as
  • Turn your “opt-out’ statements into “opt-in” sign-ups for newsletters and/or job alerts and invite unsuccessful candidates to join your candidate community and nurture and cultivate them for when you’re faced with your next recruitment drive
  • Train and develop new recruiters as soon as they are appointed and groom them into becoming true marketers and employer brand ambassadors. Sharpen up the marketing skills of experienced recruiters to think differently through refresher training.
  • Run an audit on how you are presently delivering on your full candidate experience and value chain.

Your employer brand and customer brand is inseparable. Companies work hard to cultivate their consumer brand in order to demonstrate profitability. Why should the same approach not be taken by Recruiters when attending to the candidate experience?

Progressive Leaders transform the way they are recruiting today by recognizing the importance of Employer Branding!
Contact Celeste Sirin on and improve on your candidate experience journey today.