That Magical Mindful Presence of Candidate Service

“And with all your magic
I disappear from view…”


She stopped in the middle of the hall and met my gaze. We shook hands. Other customers, partners and peers streamed around us on either side like a river around rocks.

“It was a pleasure meeting you,” I said.

She smiled. “Likewise.  This was a great week. Very informative. You really know how to listen to your customers.”

I’d thought she’d wink on that last comment, but she didn’t. Instead, the gleam in her eyes told me all I needed to know. After earlier conversations about how they’d been waiting for our latest talent acquisition product innovations that would eventually improve their speed and quality of hire over time, her and her colleagues were excited about the possibilities. The streams around us rushed continuously by, color and conversation blurred while we engaged in the magical mindful presence of one single interaction.

“Safe travels,” I said.

“You as well.”

Then we both merged into the nearest streams and were gone. And so it was at our PeopleFluent WISDOM 2015 customer conference, where engaging customer, partner and peer communication streams flowed in and out of the general session hall, through breakout sessions, down hallways, across tables during breaks and mealtimes.

Business thrives when customer communication and education are constant and engagement and retention are high. They are, of course, a very special group of investors who count on some kind of return in short order – streamline our processes, save us time, money and more. In the HR technology marketplace, they want all of the above plus better hires, a smarter workforce, strong leadership, diversity of thought, agile innovation and more.

This is why according to Yvette Cameron, HCM research director at global research firm Gartner who spoke at our WISDOM conference, companies spend over $41 billion on customer relationship management (CRM) technologies. We leverage technology, invest in our products and services, improve our customer service, wheel and deal, bend over backwards and do whatever it takes to hold onto our customers.

Conversely, companies only spend about $11 billion on HR technology, which is just a little more than a fourth of the CRM spend. Yvette then asked us all: What if we treated employees like we treat our best customers?

What if. Ironic, right? But hey, engagement is up according to the latest Gallup research: The percentage of U.S. workers engaged in their jobs rose from an average 31.7% in January to an average 32.9% in February. The latest monthly rate of employee engagement is the highest Gallup has recorded in three years and is a full 1 1/2 percentage points above where it stood in February 2014.

One and a half percentage points. Whooptee do-da-day. Break out the bubbly, kids. As soon as we’re hired we disappear into a faded and muted blur. As soon as we don’t get the job, we disappear.

Progress, however incremental, is progress, and there are those who are making the move on the front end to treat candidates like customers and using the right technologies to enable the much-needed preferential treatment. That’s why research and relationship building are alive and well in recruiting today, something we’re going to cover on the TalentCulture #TChat Show this week.

These same candidates, who like your customers, are doing their homework in advance on whether or not they want to do business with you, regardless of the technology investments you’ve made. This means the HR and talent acquisition teams need to take the time and do their due diligence when sourcing the best talent and invest in “whatever it takes” engagement to hold on to these customers – the current and future workforce.

Finding and hiring top tech talent is really tough today, especially those with the necessary skill sets that are critical for today’s companies – primarily, software programmers and developers, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) positions.

According to Dice’s 2015 Tech Candidate Sentiment Survey, tech candidates understand that recruiters use publicly available data to research candidates and get a “total person” view before making that first call to provide a better candidate experience. At least 50% of survey respondents said that they wish recruiters would do more research on them and their background before calling.

The candidates are in the driver seat now, so let us not forget that. But, according to the 2014 Candidate Experience Awards Report (the CandEs), employers overall are doing a better job meeting the needs of candidates in the pre-applicant stage of the candidate experience, providing transparency into Values (86.5 percent), Product (81.3 percent), Answers to ‘Why” People Want to Work Here (87.1 percent) and Answers to ‘Why’ People Stay Here (70.3 percent). They also focused on providing information on key culture initiatives around Diversity (83.2 percent).

This all helps of course, but whether hired or not (we’re all perpetual candidates), business thrives when customer communication and education are constant and engagement is high. Over the past two years, many CandE winners have invested in developing qualitative feedback channels for those candidates not advancing while immediately career pathing those who are.

And although not all their efforts focus on one-to-one communication, many are focusing on interactive communication channels that inform, educate, provide feedback and ask for feedback from smaller groups, leveraging that magical mindful presence of candidate service.

We really should listening more. And answering back. That’s worth at least 10 percentage-point return on engagement, don’t you think?

“And if you were to ask me
After all that we’ve been through
Still believe in magic
Oh yes I do
Oh yes I do…”

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.