5 Things My Vacation Can Teach You About the Candidate Experience

Jan 11, 2013

cruiseI recently took a cruise on Royal Caribbean with my girlfriend. It got me thinking about the services we provide as HR and agency recruiters. Some of these may not be a total surprise to you, but realize just how effective these five points can be if you truly invest time and energy into accomplishing them.

  1. Personalization. Probably the biggest thing that blew me away was how the staff remembered my name. This was a ship with about 5,000 tourists and 1,000 staff members. These crew members work in 4-6 month intervals, meaning they spend months working on the ship before they take breaks or go home. That’s a lot of trips with a lot of different tourists, yet each time I came to dinner or grabbed a drink at the bar, the staff knew my name. Because of that I’ll always use this particular cruise liner, and there’s no reason you can’t get that type of dedication from your candidates as well. Obviously remembering names is much easier in our line of work, but there’s no reason you can’t put some time into having conversations with your clients or candidates and following up on those conversations on your next meeting with them. This creates a certain feeling of commitment on your part to being the recruiter who genuinely cares about the people you work with, and that’s valuable. I promise you, it will stick with them.
  2. Surprise people with little touches. When boarding our cruise they had glasses of champagne waiting for us; they folded our towels into fun shapes; and the dining crew wished us well on our final night with a group song. These were all small things, but they were unexpected and made me feel like we got a little something extra out of the experience. The recruitment process can feel the same way. In HR and headhunting you have a lot of companies you probably compete with in the talent war, so whatever you can do to separate yourselves is extremely valuable. Sometimes swag isn’t a bad idea, but it can go further than that. Email candidates personally with a note after meeting with them; it doesn’t have to be long, but in a world where some people feel recruiters and HR people look at them like cattle, it could be the little thing that makes you stick out.
  3. Invigorate your staff. One of the things I couldn’t get over the whole week on our cruise was how polite and friendly the staff was. Literally everyone I walked by — waiter, maids, engineers, everyone — asked me if I was having a nice time on my vacation and to let them know if they could help in any way. They didn’t seem like they were forcing it, or it was one of those things they’re required to say. It seemed they genuinely wanted to ensure my experience was a good one, and it really impressed me. There’s no reason candidates can’t feel the same way about your experience as well. If you’re able to provide an experience where people can walk out feeling like they are in good hands, regardless of whether you’re able to get them hired, count on referrals.
  4. Elevate the experience. I personally had never taken a cruise before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. What this cruise liner did was highlight what made it different and made sure it reiterated it each and every day. This is more for the agency staffing firms, who need to find a way to differentiate themselves. Think about what makes your firm unique and make sure to play it up whenever possible. Do you have a different recruitment model? Are you a small firm that’s dedicated to client experience? Are you a huge staffing company that can offer its clients more contacts and connections? There’s always an angle; figure out yours and take advantage of it in your marketing.
  5. It’s OK to be shameless at times. Anyone who has been on a cruise before will tell you that the tipping situation is a little different. The cruise I was on literally told you how much they expect you to tip each person, and they even provided little envelopes on the last day of your trip. At first I was a little taken aback by it; I’ve always believed a tip is an extra gesture of thanks for a positive experience, and the amount given was up to the tipper. Regardless, I still tipped, the service was great, and the staff was awesome, and I was happy to do it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t feel the same way about asking for referrals. People know the hiring market is hectic right now. In the IT and healthcare departments, there are a ton of open jobs but limited qualified candidates, so you need any edge you can get! Asking for referrals shouldn’t be something to feel self conscious about. You helped someone and you’d like to do the same for their friend or family member!

As I’m writing this, I’m back in my office in Boston, where the current temperature is about 35 degrees. I’m already thinking about my next trip, and can’t wait to start planning. If done right, you can leave people feeling the same way about coming to work with you on their next career opportunity. In short, the best marketing you can ever do is to provide a top-notch experience and the results will follow. I know, I’ve seen it.

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