The world of work out there these days is simply weird. With unemployment clearly and dramatically impacted by the choices made in response to the whole Covid-19 mess, and yet the economy going gangbusters, it’s hard to understand if things are good or bad sometimes.
Lots of organizations are looking to hire, and especially in the CX field, what with the renewed interest in Customer Experience and care as a result of the new world in which we find ourselves. Many an article has been written since the beginning of the saga emphasizing how important Customer loyalty and care are to the ‘new normal.’ I’ve also been fascinated to see what’s going on in the world of CX employment. I’ve mentioned a few times that it’s an interesting world out there for CX jobs, but in some ways, there’s nothing all that unique about our career field than any other business discipline: People want (and deserve) to be treated fairly and respectfully.
Annette Franz wrote a great article recently distilling some basic principles that I think apply across many fields, not just CX hiring. I like her approach specifically because she seems to be suggesting that your candidates for employment are similar at least to your Customers and deserve deliberate care when you interact with them along their journey. I think a lot of organizations could learn this lesson about simple common courtesy and respect when people show interest in positions they’re trying to fill. Candidates for employment are often anxious about their situations but generally are almost always earnest in their interest in a hiring organization. If only reciprocal respect were shown, in some instances, it’d be a big improvement.
I don’t have a lot of experience applying for work, as an independent consultant myself, but from time to time, something comes across my transom that piques my interest. Ironically, it’s that infrequency (and therefore, the unique nature of the position in question) that makes my own emotional investment in the possibility even more stark, and therefore likely makes me more acutely aware of how shabbily some employers treat potential candidates.
Some organizations send boilerplate thanks-but-no-thanks-we’ll-keep-your-CV-on-file replies. These are cold and impersonal for sure, and offer zero insight into how one might improve his prospects in the future. That said, it’s better than nothing (and far outnumbered by those who simply don’t respond at all), and if it’s a huge company with tons of open positions it may not be practical to offer personal service to each candidate. You can see already how this is stacking up to mirror Customer experiences, too, right?
What’s more aggravating is to get far enough into the process so as to speak with hiring managers or recruiters (for higher-level positions) and then everything suddenly goes silent. I’ve had discussions with managers and spoken about specific needs and projects. We’ve had engaging conversations and I’ve even said to them (in some instances), ‘hey, thanks for your time, but I think you’d probably be better off with someone else for this position.’ Even displaying that level of respect myself, I often never even hear back with acknowledgment or thanks.
I once had an experience with a consulting organization (I won’t name names) that is in my business and was interested in expanding their pool of consultants. It would have been a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby I could contract through them to deliver services to their clients. It’d have meant work for me, and more resources for them: win/win. I even went so far as to meet with some clients of theirs and delivered a half-day session so they could see my style and how I interacted with clients. Things went very well that afternoon and I left, having spoken with some of their leadership, with a good feeling that we’d build a nice relationship that would lead to new work and a promise that they'd reach out in a couple of days.
I never heard from them again.
I’m not sure if they didn’t like what they saw (well, maybe I am sure, but they didn’t care to share anything with me), and will likely never know why it didn’t work out. The aggravating part isn’t so much that I spent an entire afternoon with them (not to mention the prep time for a couple of days ahead of it) and nothing came of it. After all, in the consulting business you don’t sell every client with whom you spend time...you can try and try but still not land that big deal. Rather, it’s that we’d spent so much time together, left that day with a clear impression that things had gone well (and, I'll repeat: a promise to get back to me “in the next couple days”), and then radio silence. It’s just plain rude. What’s more, as I reflected on it (when it finally became clear that I wasn’t ever going to hear), what a huge mistake for them. I’m no kingmaker, but we’re in the same business. I don’t make a habit of badmouthing anybody, that’s for sure. But there’s no way I’d ever recommend anybody do business with this organization. Everybody isn’t a perfect match, and when you’re looking for help in your organization, you want to cast a wide net. Just by the numbers, you’re not going to take in everybody who shows interest, even those who are highly qualified...hiring comes down to choices. But to show outright disrespect for someone who earnestly showed interest (and interest enough to take the time to meet with you) is bad for karma and can be bad for your business as well, at least if you make a practice of it.
While it’s a different dynamic than the typical employer looking to hire a full-time employee to fill a specific req, I think that experience translates to the traditional job search. On one hand, it’s just common decency and respect. But on the other, you’d think that genuine self-preservation might motivate organizations (or at least the individuals who work within them) to show a greater degree of courtesy to people in their own line of work. People in CX should be even more acutely aware of that: for all the work you put into advancing your brand to your Customers, consider those who want to work for you are also out there, and people will listen to what they have to say about you as well.
(Originally Published 20210427)
– LtCol Nicholas Zeisler, CCXP, LSSBB, CSM
– Principal, Zeisler Consulting