Zingerman’s Culture: Believe in Giving Great Service to Applicants

Believe in giving great service to applicants….You really CAN make a difference

I believe…

…Every person deserves a chance, a second chance and sometimes even a third and so on

…Every person deserves great service

…We can all take a few extra moments every day and in every interaction to make a positive difference or influence someone’s life

…It only takes one person to believe in something to start down the path of change

…We all can give people hope and inspiration in a small gesture

Do you believe in giving great service to applicants? Every applicant, every time? If your answer is “no”, I challenge you to look deep inside and think about whether that answer is really your answer. I was trained from previous employers to only give attention to a few great applicants and to ignore the rest. That was the “belief” that I was surrounded by for most of my career…until I came to Zingerman’s.

When I came here and was told by Ari that I had the authority and power to give great service to all our guests no matter what, I was shocked. I honestly didn’t know how to respond to that statement. It’s a mentality that I wasn’t used to – how could I or any staff member have the freedom to do anything we wanted to make a guest happy? Well, if Ari believed that it was possible and worked, then I believed I could do it too.

I had my first opportunity to do this soon after I heard this—over 8 years ago. I probably had only been in my position for a couple months when I received an email from a woman that wanted to work at Zingerman’s. She attached a copy of her resume. I opened the resume, and it had numerous spelling errors and formatting issues. It was practically unreadable. My past employers would have just trashed the email and moved on—no response and no action.

I remember thinking to myself that I could actually give this woman feedback to help her next time, so I called her and gave her suggestions for enhancing her resume. I remember she was very grateful I took the time to help her. I remember feeling really good about it and that it was the right thing to do. This woman was sending this resume out to multiple employers, and I had no doubt that she was being overlooked every time. I hope that my quick call to give her suggestions helped her change her path! This was actually my first interaction giving great service to applicants, and it would be far from my last.

So, I am sure you are thinking what I used to think: that you don’t have the time to dedicate to extending this kind of service to your applicants. You might also be thinking that your organization would not support you taking this time anyway. Well, I think that every pathway leads to something, and each pathway has to start with one stone. You can be that one stone to get a spark started. Start with the jobs you are hiring for. What can you do to give every one of your applicants a great application experience? Is it merely responding? Is it giving feedback? There is a wide range of things you can do. Start with something—I think you will be amazed at how easy it really can be—and rewarding.

I actually used to think that if we respond to every applicant, then that means we are giving great service. Today, I truly think that is giving mediocre service because it should be the expectation of every employer hiring to tell someone whether or not they are being considered. It’s the least any of us can do. Now, I look at every situation as an opportunity to help somebody in their job search – whether finding a job at Zingerman’s or somewhere else. I will happily find the time to sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone to help them with their resume, interviewing skills, or even sometimes just career coaching. Yes, I am always going to recruit for great folks to join our organization, but sometimes it’s not the right time or fit for someone. But, helping them today may end up helping us tomorrow when the person is ready to come apply to join Zingerman’s.

Whether it is taking the time to give a personal response to an email inquiry, taking the time to answer questions on the phone (and then even offer more info!), having an informational interview with applicants to get to know them and help them, or working with your hiring managers to be better hiring managers (gives great service to both your applicants AND your hiring managers)….GO THE EXTRA MILE EVERY TIME!

…YOU can make a difference in your own work.

…YOU can make a difference in what your company and hiring managers believe to be great service.

…YOU can make a difference in someone’s job search or even life!

Tracie Wolfe
Recruiting Specialist / HR Generalist