When companies don’t treat their job applicants well, they lose out in more ways than one

How you are treated as an applicant has a lot to do with whether you will be a customer.
How you are treated as an applicant has a lot to do with whether you will be a customer.
Image: Reuters/Mohammad Khursheed
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When a company ignores your resume submission, fails to notify you of your application status or completely neglects you after a series of interviews, you never want to apply for a job there again. Last year, my firm worked with Career Arc to survey job seekers and found that 80% would be discouraged to consider other relevant job openings after a poor experience. Employers who fail to create a positive experience disregard professionals who could be in high demand in the future. Instead, they should look at the lifetime value of a candidate, much like they already do for customers.

This year, we revisited the study and found something even more fascinating. Not only will a poor candidate experience make someone not want to apply again, but it even has an impact on their purchasing habits. Job seekers who don’t feel like they are treated fairly won’t purchase from that company again. This means that companies will both shrink their talent pool and lose money at the same time. Even more so, when job seekers aren’t treated fairly, they are more likely to complain about the company online in review sites like These negative reviews can deter other job seekers from applying for jobs or purchasing products or services from the company.

In the study, we found that 64% of job seekers say that a poor experience would make them less likely to purchase from the employer. While 91% of employers agree that candidate experience can impact consumer-purchasing decisions, only 26% measure this effect. When you don’t feel like a company is treating you right, you naturally don’t want to apply again to repeat that experience. In addition, when you find out that your friends applied for jobs there, you tell them about your experience.

While job seekers spend hours creating and editing their resumes, hiring managers spend minutes reviewing them. Companies need to understand and appreciate the effort that job seekers devote to applying for jobs at their company and show them more respect. Otherwise, these same candidates will decide to ignore the employer in favor of their competitors. For instance, if PepsiCo gave you a bad candidate experience, you are more likely to purchase a Coca-Cola next time you’re at the market. You have a poor view of PepsiCo because of how you were treated as a job seeker and that has influenced your purchasing decision. When enough job seekers have bad experiences, the company starts to lose a lot of money.

Human resources should look at the results from this study as a major opportunity. For years, they have dreamed of having a seat at the table with the c-suite. By improving their recruiting systems and processes, they can actually have a positive impact on sales. As a result, the c-suite will view them as a strategic asset instead of a cost center. Good job seeker experiences lead to positive financial outcomes and that’s what every company should strive for.