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July 27, 2016
Candidates as Consumers
In business, we often put clients first. In talent recruitment, we must remember to put the candidate first. Hiring is a two way street. It’s not just about getting the best and brightest in the door for an interview and putting them through whatever paces deemed necessary to make the best hiring decision. It’s crucial that we ensure they want to work for us and be an active part of the community, or that time and effort spent will be for naught. 
As marketers, our role is to help clients drive their brand’s message to both current and prospective consumers in an effort to effect an intended outcome (e.g., awareness, loyalty, revenue, etc.). This is the business we’re in. We do this by understanding how to identify, attract, and retain a client’s consumer. We understand how to reach these consumers and how to create stories and experiences to connect with them. In short, we know how important the consumer experience is with a brand and we understand the consumer journey.
Yet, we often don’t apply what we do for our clients to what we do as a media agency. We're a brand just like any other. Candidates are our potential consumers. It’s incumbent upon us to give our candidates (consumers) a memorable and rich experience with our agency (brand), connecting them with both our message and purpose. 
Today we face an incredibly competitive marketplace. Talent moves around our industry at a relentless pace and the increasing number of digital players and technology companies has given way to further competition in the market for great talent. We must give them a reason to “buy us” over their many other choices. Remember, it’s not just about you choosing them — they have a choice as well, and our jobs as recruiters or hiring managers is to ensure they make an informed choice and that we’ve made the time to inform them of all the reasons they should “buy” our brand.
Evolution and innovation defines us. We must apply that to our hiring practices, or the candidate experience says nothing about us. “Welcome, let me take your coat, here is a bottle of water, sit in my office and let’s do a Q&A about your skills.” Boring and fruitless. Make it exciting, interview them in an out-of-the-ordinary space, have them meet with unexpected people who can help tell your story, and ask them about behaviors and experiences, not skills. You’ve seen their resume  They wouldn’t be in your presence if they weren’t qualified on paper. 
Ensure they leave their interview understanding who you are and what you stand for. It’s our job to provide them with an experience that they will enjoy and remember and that will leave them wanting more. We must give them a reason to “buy” us over all others, making us a part of their career journey.

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Kristen Metzger is managing partner, people and culture, at MEC North America.
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