For many companies, the candidate experience takes a backseat to the daily operational needs of the talent acquisition team and the hiring managers. It’s not hard to see why. With online applications now available for every job, and easier than ever, the volume of applications increases dramatically every year. Exceptional talent becomes ever more difficult to separate from the mass of applicants, at the same time that competition for these top-tier individuals becomes ever more intense.
So the recruiters and hiring managers are facing an uphill battle. Their jobs get harder constantly, and their natural impulse is to “circle the wagons” and concentrate internally on what they can do to manage the endless flow of applicants. It just seems too hard to do anything else.
But this internal focus is a major mistake. Here are three reasons why.
1. Career Sites Suck
When was the last time you applied for a job? Corporate career sites list massive volumes of jobs with similar qualifications and similar titles. Many applicants mass-apply to the broadest possible range of jobs, hoping to get lucky. Hiring organizations look at this flood of candidates and focus their resources instead on outbound recruiting, leaving junior-level staff to find the rare needle in the digital haystack of resumes.
Quite simply, corporate career sites are broken. They typically work off relatively unsophisticated databases and a limited set of keywords rather than sophisticated algorithms. Simplistic matching technology makes the chance of a successful match remote at best. Potential applicants have to wade through dozens of inappropriate listings, hoping to find a job that sounds interesting and matches their skills. For too many people, it’s not worth the effort. Their first impression with an organization quickly becomes a negative experience.
The truth of this impersonal experience is seen in how cover letters are handled. If you applied for a job more than 3 years ago, perhaps a corporate recruiter read your cover letter. If you apply today, a candid recruiter will admit that you should not bother to write a cover letter. No one is likely to read it.
2. Recruiters Don’t Have Time to Recruit
Overworked recruiters, hiring managers, and HR staff don’t have time to see applicants as individuals. Instead, they see piles of resumes. The inevitable result is that too many candidates never hear back after an application, or just receive a form letter. Interviews lead to no response or follow-ups months after the last contact.
This behavior comes off as insulting to candidates. Why should someone want to work at a place that doesn’t communicate with them? Even worse, hiring managers like to keep second and third favorites on hold in case their primary targets don’t pan out. This means that the “silver medalists” may be engaged even less than the applicants who have been rejected out of hand.
Recruiters exist to recruit—to sell their open positions to qualified candidates. With such a mountain of administrative work, they just run out of time to communicate effectively.
3. Job Descriptions Have No Relation to Reality
Businesses tend to be either silly or lazy when it comes to job descriptions. The lazy part is easy to understand. No one gets promoted for writing great job descriptions. Some organizations stoop so low as to copy online listings from other companies, change a few details, then post them as their own. Even well-run organizations often reuse job description text for years, with no one questioning whether it is still valid and accurate.
Silly job posts may grab someone’s attention, but they’re of little use if they don’t realistically map to the skills needed for the job, the quality of the work environment, and opportunities for advancement. What happens when someone comes in for an interview only to discover false or inaccurate representations of the job or the company? It’s another black mark and a missed opportunity to generate excitement and enthusiasm for a potential new hire.
Employer Brand Is Recruiting’s Secret Weapon
Searching for a job is terribly stressful and frustrating. Any organization that turns this process into a positive experience has a built-in competitive advantage, especially when it comes to attracting top-tier talent.
That’s where employer branding comes into play. If your hiring team has the right tools to zero in on appropriate candidates sooner, they have more time to shower attention on interviewees. Accurate job descriptions lead to more meaningful discussions for how each candidate can find a home at your company. Regular, honest communications set expectations and build relationships, especially for candidates who might not be immediate hires. These communications are part of a brand identity—your employer brand.
If your team doesn’t have the technology to turn volumes of applications into meaningful hiring conversations, then you’ll never be able to communicate that employer brand or the values that make your corporate culture so rewarding. You’ll also struggle to reach the best people and land them before your competition snaps them away. And your company’s reputation will suffer as a result.
Put yourself in your applicants’ and candidates’ shoes, and the solution becomes obvious. Make the investment to build a system that’s personalized, even at the job description level. Make it relevant for both applicants and hiring managers, with interactive tools that help both sides of the hiring equation get to what they want sooner. Finally, make the hiring process as rapid as possible, to capture your candidates’ excitement.
Treat your applicants with respect and your candidates as if they’re already your treasured talent. That’s when the magic happens.