Consumer and Candidate Experience: An Intro and First Step

Lindsey Sanford
April 24 ․ 7 min read

Candidate Experiece

As a consumer, I’m fairly demanding. When something breaks, I want an immediate response. When I’m researching a new product, I want the answers at my fingertips, right then, and not on someone else’s timeline.

I want information, engagement, and I want investment. In the consumer market, it’s easy for me to demand that. There are hundreds of products that do the same thing, with very few differentiators outside of customer service. And, of course, there is the fact that in the consumer industry, everything is driven by the consumer’s need.

Now, let’s switch over to the candidate experience. The wants, needs, and frankly, expectations are no different. But the experience is. First and foremost, the transaction is no longer empowered by just the candidate - the hiring company has an equal share of needs and demands. And, frequently, the needs of the company and the needs of the candidate are often misaligned, or at odds with one another.

The company wants the perfect candidate.

The candidate thinks they are the perfect candidate, and regardless of whether or not they are, they want to be treated as if they were a consumer with the purchase power.

Do you see the disconnect?

For the past six or seven years, I’ve been working with a lot of data, comparing online presence for our clients, and their competitors. And I’ll let you in on a little secret - there often is very little difference in the data that would pinpoint differentiators for your company against who you are competing for talent. Yes, there are differences, and yes, there’s strategy to be had, but from a big picture perspective, we’re talking one-to-two percent in differences in 17 different categories of measurement.

So what makes the real difference between employers?

You guessed it, the candidate experience.

The recruitment industry is late to the table, and frankly, because of the difference in objective, there will always be a disconnect from consumer experiences because in many instances the company holds the purchase power, not the candidate.

In my opinion, it’s the companies who place more investment in giving the candidate that purchase power that will emerge in the lead for finding high quality talent.

So, where do you start?

Modeling, in some part, the consumer experience.

This will be a series of posts, that documents the transition to the consumer experience by validating our candidates as consumers. We’ll start with how they are looking for information in the first place.

Google, that one search engine you may have heard about, came up with a concept called Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) - which details the process of discovery for consumers who are looking for more information.


ZMOT starts with a stimuli, where a consumer has experienced a pain point (dirty floor, desire to plan a trip, service needed), that prompts them to research. That research stage is the Zero Moment of Truth - which, in a simplified definition, is the discovery process of our consumers. They are searching for information on Social Media, Websites, Friends and Family, Review Sites, and more.

The process for a candidate is no different - in fact, I think it’s more complicated and more in depth. We’re talking about one of the top five most stressful experiences in your life. And the goal of your candidate content marketing strategy should be to influence as much of this ZMOT as possible, to improve (at this level) the candidate experience.


The right information, the right time, the right place.

In other words - in the ZMOT candidate experience - we’re not waiting for the candidates to come to us, we’re going to them. Identifying the channels on which they are active, participating, and consuming information will help your team prioritize the channels to impact with an updated content strategy. What to talk about is a subject for another blog, as is candidate engagement, responsiveness, and experience after you’ve identified where they are researching. Stay tuned.

Want a specific topic discussed on the next post? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll tackle subjects as they emerge. 

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