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Treat job seekers like customers: It's good business

Christian Forman, CEO of StartDateLabs, told ZoomInsights, “Job seekers feel poorly about the recruiting process at baseline, regardless of how well companies (treat them) because it’s a process that generates 99 no’s for every one yes.” Despite the inherently frustrating process, recruiters and HR professionals can make small changes to make the ordeal a bit more pleasant – even for candidates who ultimately get rejected. Forman addressed this issue in his “Why We Need to Treat Job Seekers like Customers” session at The Recruiting Conference.

The dangers of disgruntled applicants

“We used to live in silos, the collateral damage used to be the immediate friends and family, but the ability to spread negative news has increased exponentially,” said Forman. Social media has made it easier than ever for people to share the experiences they had with your company, good and bad.

According to Lauren Weber in the Wall Street Journal, angry job applicants can really take a toll on the bottom line: “Take, for example, a large retailer that hires 5,000 people per year and receives 100 resumes per opening. That company has approximately 495,000 rejected candidates in a year. If 8 percent of those people, plus one close associate each, hold a grudge against the firm at the end of the process, the company may lose 79,200 current or potential customers. If the average customer spends $100 per year with the retailer, annual revenue loss would total $7.92 million.”

This can be a problem for any industry, and can lead to more than just lost revenue. In a competitive hiring market, your company may not get the best candidates if they have heard horror stories about your hiring process. Or perhaps, someday, that employee will be in a new position, and might choose to do business with your competitor rather than you because of a compromised relationship.

With all that money – and goodwill – on the line, it’s important that companies take the following deceivingly simple steps to send job applicants away feeling as though they’ve been treated with respect.

  • Provide feedback – According to Forman, “The primary complaint (of job seekers) is the lack of a feedback loop.” Applicants understand that they are entering a selection process, and they understand that they might not get the job, but they do expect an answer. It might be hard to get back to every potential candidate yourself, but companies can introduce applicant tracking systems to help automate the process and empower job seekers. “Ninety percent of applicants follow up,” Forman said. “Understand they do this and give them a channel to do so.”

  • Manage expectations – Perhaps the simplest and most effective way to send job seekers away from your company happy is to set and meet their expectations. “Set expectations appropriately – be honest about when you’ll get back to them,” said Forman. For example, tell applicants if you only plan to contact people you want to interview, he advised.

All of this advice can be boiled down to one key word: communication. If you remember to be honest, and provide avenues for efficient communication, even the people who did not get the job will walk away from your hiring process with a good impression of your company.


Need more information about applicants? Look them up with ZoomInfo Pro, which provides detailed profiles, including up to 12 year’s-worth of mentions on news and other Web page. Learn more.