There is another great post over at smallbusinessbranding about 'experiential marketing.' You can read it here. Without telling the whole story, Michael describes the power behind the total customer experience created by a company like Apple, with iPod, PowerBook and all of their products. The experience from first encounter, through purchase, to unpacking the box, to interacting with their support desk is outstanding. I have to say that I was totally blown away by the whole experience with my iPod--even unpacking the box was exciting, the design of every single component was terrific.
This same concept applies to total candidate experience. I was talking to a close friend last night that has been going through a hiring ordeal (or nightmare) with the largest software company in Texas. It brings home to roost many of the concepts that Hank blogged about yesterday. Especially the need for companies that are trying to attract top talent to adopt a hiring culture.
This particular story shows exactly how not to do that. My friend is a very experienced marketing communications expert, and has developed a particularly strong reputation and history of analyst relations expertise. The company is looking for exactly that. My friend is currently doing very well as a free agent, is booked solid and wasn't looking for a job (remember the passive candidate?). They found her as a referral from an industry analyst--duh, she must be pretty good if one of the very same people they are wanting to interface with is referring her! So far so good--they did a great job of sourcing.
Now is when the s**t hits the fan. Their process is not flexible enough to deal with a busy passive candidate. They have a rigid process with as many as 12 different people involved in the interview--which is okay, lots of companies do that. But in this case, those people are all located at corporate headquarters 200 miles away. And of course their schedules were too busy to accommodate this in a single interview trip. So they asked my friend to make multiple trips--she said that couldn't work because her schedule was too booked with billable assignments to accommodate that. Then the recruiter went dark--gasp, candidates aren't allowed to push back on our process are they? They totally didn't grasp the notion of a process modification to accommodate a highly-desirable passive candidate being in control.
Finally, after filling in the hiring manager on the situation and 2 weeks passing they figured out a way to facilitate the interviews via phone and one trip to corporate. Guess what--the majority of the 12 interviewers were not even prepped to know why the were interviewing!
And in the meantime my friend had gathered a lot of information about the company from her analyst contacts, web research, and numerous other sources and now knew more about the company and its external perception than any of the insiders (see my earlier post on this topic here). In her process, she was interviewing the company--not visa versa. And the company failed miserably because they did not have a hiring culture, they did not know how to deal with a passive candidate, and they were not prepared for the process.
Talenteering is about relationships! We've said it before, and we'll keep saying it. Relationships live through the whole experience. What may have started out looking like a wonderful opportunity turned sour because poor execution ruined whatever relationship had been started. It doesn't do a lot of good to spend millions on recruitment advertising and sourcing programs, or tapping into great referral sources if the entire experience has not been thought through. Different talent requires different experiences. Work to understand this and execute experiential talenteering.