The Unexpected Benefits of Engaging Candidates as Customers

“Treat your employees as you would treat your customers.” Catchy phrase, right? This expression has been bouncing around the business world as an effort to make high executives realize one of the major factors that plays an important role in the success of a company is the overall happiness and satisfaction of their employees.

But what if we said that it isn’t enough to just treat your employees as customers? This kind of treatment should start even before the hiring process. In other words, what we want to say here is “Treat your candidates as you would treat your customers.” It is one thing to keep your employees happy and satisfied, but why should you go to such extents as to treat people who don’t even work for you as a customer? Candidate experience.

How to Treat a Customer

Imagine this: you go into a store and before you can buy anything, you first need to fill out a few forms, go through a lengthy interviewing process, and wait weeks or even months before you’re told that you do not qualify as a customer for this store. Wouldn’t that be frustrating? And it goes without saying that not only will you never set foot in that store again, but you’re also probably going to drag their name through the mud with your friends and family.

This is the kind of trial most candidates are put through. Companies are only beginning to realize there has been a shift in the market and there are more jobs available than candidates. They are the ones with the power now, they can choose between jobs on a whim. Add this to the fact that many conventional recruiters work on a quantity-based reward system instead of a quality-based one, and you’ll see why most companies might have trouble see candidates as no more than a sheet of paper or a number on a spreadsheet instead of an actual human being with skills and talents.

In a very competitive market, you can’t afford to treat your customers as mere numbers or as walking credit cards. It goes without saying that the minute you stop engaging your customers, when you stop caring about their needs, and don’t go that extra mile for them, you will lose them to your competition. The same goes for candidates. When you engage your candidates the same way you engage your customers, you’re building up their image of you. Even those who didn’t quite make the cut at a certain opportunity.

Using the Right Tools for the Job

This is not an easy process and it has to begin at the top of the company’s hierarchy. A team of recruiters and hiring managers needs the resources and manpower to effectively engage all candidates and handle such a big workload.

A good way to start this transition is by incorporating a Customer Relations Manager (CRM) system with your Applicant Tracking System (ATS). In the conventional sense, a CRM system is mostly used by a sales team as a tool to keep track of and engage existing and potential customers. However, in breaking with old convictions, it can also be a great asset for recruiters and hiring managers.

In fact, there’s solid data to support that using a CRM system in tandem with the more traditional recruiting tools can and will increase your candidate experience. The Candidate Experience Awards (or CandE Awards) is a competition that rewards companies based on the way they treat candidates and prospective hires. In 2017, three quarters of the companies awarded were using a CRM system to improve their candidate experience, while the rest affirmed their intent on investing in a similar strategy.

When a salesperson can’t reach an agreement with a customer, it is quite common for the former to save the latter’s information and stay in contact in case a better sales opportunity arises. They use their CRM system to engage that potential buyer, keeping them hooked and on the radar, waiting for the time to be right. Why should a candidate be any different?

An ATS just can’t do that. It is a fundamental flaw in their design, they are just not made to engage candidates. Their main function, as the name clearly states, is to keep track of applications (CVs, resumes, and cover letters), not applicants (people). Surely, they can be quite useful and help with a lot of tedious tasks, but they’re still far from perfect.

When you rely solely on an ATS system, you’re basically turning your candidates into numbers in a spreadsheet. You’ll go through a hiring process, pick a candidate, and the rest will get thrown into a pool of rejects who will never hear back from you until you have another position to fill and post it. By then, the damage will be done. You may send an email to the candidates that didn’t make it explaining why they weren’t chosen and that you will keep them in mind for future opportunities. But we all know that’s rarely true, we’re human! Even the best recruiters in the world have too much in going on in their minds to remember the names and characteristics of every candidate they interview.

Final Thoughts

That’s why all great hiring managers and recruiters need a CRM system. A CRM allows you to nurture and connect with candidates the same way a sales person would with their clients. Keeping candidates engaged is just as important as having a transparent and smooth hiring process. Why waste time and effort creating a gigantic database of names and skills if you’re not doing anything to stay on their radar?

Recruiters need to stop thinking that they can cherry-pick candidates as they please and realize that it’s job seekers who get to have their pick of jobs. Now, what are you doing to engage and hook your candidates and have them choose you?

Eduardo Rojas

About Eduardo Rojas

Content Marketing Editor at

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