A New Paradigm for Attracting Talent?

This article was co-authored with my colleague and friend, Carol Kaemmerer.

Why aren’t we marketing to prospective employees much like we do prospective customers?

Companies are battling for talent. Baby boomers were replaced by Millennials as the largest segment of the available labor pool a few years ago. Millennial workers possess the technical know-how, social media savviness and expectations for work-life balance that are unique to them alone. Yet, most companies persist in old models of talent recruitment. Can we develop a new game plan with better tactics to win the war for talent that we so desperately need to achieve our goals? 

Employee experience is clearly linked to an organization’s ability to improve its customer experience (CX). However, the employee experience being addressed today is typically focused on the workforce already employed by a company. What about the “job candidate experience?” Could we prospect for potential employees much the way we attempt to attract new customers to buy our products and services? Carol Kaemmerer has suggested in an article that senior leaders can be part of the talent solution by using social media such as LinkedIn to develop their company’s reputation as a good corporate citizen and their own reputations as thought leaders. Are there other ways we could be more proactive in creating campaigns to attract talent to our companies? 

Research reported by Starred in their Candidate Experience Benchmark Report shows the impact of negative online reviews by applicants who were dissatisfied with their applicant process. They noted that the majority of job seekers will read at least six reviews before forming an opinion of a company and that 55% of them will avoid a company after reading negative reviews. A company’s poor reputation negatively impacts referrals, which the report cited as the number one source of high-quality candidates.

Shouldn’t our approach to talent acquisition be more personal, more directed, more experience oriented? Perhaps we need a marketing director within our human resource departments. When we want to acquire new customers, we invest in marketing campaigns. We proclaim the features, benefits and advantages of our products and services. We share our mission and vision. We showcase what our employees do as central to our purpose. We highlight our culture. We use social media to spread the word of mouth, accumulate 5-star ratings and build a community of believers. We try to make buying from us as personal an experience as possible (think Amazon!) so that each customer feels valued and recognized for their purchases. Once acquired, we nurture customers to ensure they stay, recommend and buy more – after all – without it our Net Promoter Score (NPS) would suffer! 

The same can be said for how we recruit prospective employees. Sure, well designed company websites help by telling an organization’s story, describing its products and spotlighting company culture and community involvement. But what sets your organization apart? What differentiates applicants’ experience with your company from their experience with your competitors? Perhaps applying some basic CX principles to the applicant experience might be a step in the right direction.

·       Disrupt the status quo. Let’s disrupt the way we’ve always done talent recruitment and create a new paradigm. Remove the applicant experience process from its silo. Recognize that customer experience, employee experience and applicant experience can all benefit from solid efforts to improve company culture, to serve a purpose that goes beyond making money, to create humanity in all our company’s touch points.

·       Consider applicants to be as important as customers and employees – and treat them as such. Develop marketing campaigns that feature purpose and meaning, a different kind of relationship with their bosses, and transparency of the company and its leadership on social media – all things that are important to millennial workers.

·       Design the experience. There’s a lot of work being done on the on boarding experience for new employees. It’s time to create a more end-to-end design to our talent process. Much like we do with starting the customer experience at the point of first contact, we should consider the same for the applicant process. 

·       Communicate early and often. Treat every applicant as important. Keep them informed as to where they are in the process. Invite their feedback. Imbue the process with a human touch. Consider an applicant care advocate position, parallel to the customer care advocate role.

·       Listen to applicant feedback. Ask applicants for their feedback regarding your application and interview processes so that you find out what’s working and what’s not. Actively monitor online sites such as Glassdoor and adjust your processes and practices accordingly.

·       Establish success factors. What are the talent metrics of the future? Improved feedback on the applicant experience? Reduced number of online complaints? Employee retention? Employee engagement scores? Employee referrals? Do these metrics still apply in today’s battle for talent or do we need a new set of metrics to measure our success? Knowing what we will measure should be part of designing the applicant experience.

If we’re going to win the battle for the best of the best talent available, we need to turn the recruitment process on its side and forge a new path forward. The battle can be won and so can the war. But we must think differently about the experience from the point of first contact with every potential employee and at every point thereafter. 


Bob Azman, MBA, CCXP, is Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of Innovative CX Solutions. A CX consultant with deep operations experience, Bob creates outstanding results for global companies through superior customer experience.

Carol Kaemmerer is an executive branding expert who works with senior-level professionals and their companies to use LinkedIn as a branding platform and business development tool. Carol is a professional speaker, coach and author of the book LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive: Promote Your Brand with Authenticity, Tact and Power.


Robert Azman