Ask my children; I constantly talk about great customer service. When we go through the drive-through and the attendant gets my order right, I’ll rave, “That was great customer service.” If an associate goes above and beyond, I’ll call for the manager and tell them about the great customer service I received.
Providing great customer service doesn’t only apply to paying customers like me; it also applies to job seekers providing great customer service to hiring authorities (recruiters, HR, and hiring managers).
If you’re searching for your next job, you might see it as jumping through hoops. Further, you might have had a bad experience or two with hiring authorities who’ve been plain rude.
But receiving poor customer service from hiring authorities doesn’t mean that you’re given the license to return the same. No, providing great customer service to hiring authorities can be the deal maker that lands you the job.
Alternatively, failing to deliver excellent customer service in your job search could be the deal breaker. Here are some ways to provide great customer service to hiring authorities:
1. It starts with attitude
It always starts with attitude. What makes me cringe is when a job seeker says, “I don’t care what employers think. They’ll have to accept me as I am.” Here’s the thing, hiring authorities don’t have to accept you as you are. They hold the cards. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll land a job.
No, you can’t argue with a recruiter about salary and benefits. No, you can’t decide when to interview based on your whim. No, you can’t treat the receptionist disrespectfully. No, you can’t be a jerk…anytime. Think great customer service, instead.
2. Be qualified for the job
My wife and her team were trying to fill an HR Generalist position. One of the résumés she received was from a person who had no HR experience; her experience was in dog walking and retail sales. Nor did she have a formal degree required for the position.
Wasting interviewers’ time is not great customer service. I’m not one to dissuade people from applying for position when they lack some of the qualifications; however, I don’t encourage people to apply for positions when they lack the most important experience, skills, and accomplishments.
3. Go through the proper channels
Companies have you send your résumés and fill out an application for a reason. They’re trying to maintain the sanity of their HR and recruiter departments. You’ve heard of companies that receive hundreds of resumes for a job. Get the idea?
However, I suggest trying to get your résumés into the hands of hiring managers. If you personally know someone in the company, they can be your courier. This approach will save you the frustration of sending you résumés through applicant tracking systems (ATS) that will eliminate you from consideration if you don’t match their keywords.
4. Answer the phone
When a hiring authority calls at the agreed time, you’re obligated to take the call. I’ve spoken with clients who told me they weren’t ready to take the call, so they didn’t. I’ve spoken with recruiters who’ve been totally ghosted—yep, it works both ways. Answer the phone!
It goes without saying that you should be prepared for the phone interview, especially if it’s a scheduled one. Show great customer service by taking the interview seriously.
5. Do your homework
One complaint many hiring authorities echo over and over is candidates’ inability to answer this simple question: “What can you tell us about our company?” Some of the candidates respond with, “I didn’t have the chance to visit your website.” Visiting their website is the least employers expect.
I recently spoke to a client who was preparing for an interview. I asked her pointblank, “What do you know about the company?” She went on to say she knows all the products like the back of her hand, loves the responsibilities of the job, knows who is interviewing her, and has performed all the responsibilities and more.
This client was clearly demonstrating great customer service by showing the employer she’d done her homework.
6. Be on time to the interview
Not only do I praise companies for their professionalism, accuracy in taking my orders; I admire their quickness. Think of being on time to the interview the same way the companies, of which I speak, are consistently quick.
Hiring authorities will appreciate your punctuality, albeit not too early, and might even note it as a deal maker. If you are going to be late, call ahead and apologize profusely when you get to the interview. Great customer service.
7. Treat everyone well
Do you know who is one of the most important people in the hiring process? If you guessed the receptionist, you’re correct. In some cases, the receptionist is asked what they thought of the candidates who came in for interviews. If they give a thumbs down, that’s all she wrote.
Make sure you are respectful to everyone with whom you come in contact. Great customer service includes smiling and being friendly. I make a mental note of this when I’m being served, even if I’m not smiling back.
8. Take the questions seriously, every question
One client recently told me she was asked if she were an insect, what would she be. She recalled learning from on of my colleague to think about an attribute important to the company. Her response was, “A bee, because I work for the betterment of teams, often pulling more of my weight.”
My client could have gotten offended, thinking that the question was stupid; but, instead, she thought about the reason for the interviewer asking and knew she had to show respect by answering the question seriously. That’s an example of great customer service.
9. Thank them for their time
I recently spoke with a recruiter from a large medical device company who told me that some people don’t even thank the hiring managers for the time they’ve taken to interview them. What did our parents teach us?
10. Follow up
The same recruiter told me that the hiring managers would almost beam with excitement when they received thank-you notes. My rules for thank-you notes are very simple: send unique ones to each interviewer, mention a take away from the interview, and be quick in delivering it. Again, signs of great customer service.
As I conclude writing this, I understand that advising you to provide great customer service in your job search is a tall order, especially given the circumstance. I also know you don’t always receive the best customer service from hiring authorities. Be the bigger person, though. Realize how it will help you in the end.