From the Fortune 500 to SMBs, companies are investing time, energy, and resources on employer branding, talent attraction, building talent communities, campus recruiting events, career days, and other outreach initiatives. As part of the growing importance of having a robust recruiting strategy, an organization is continuously updating its Facebook page, company Linkedin page, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Then advertising their open reqs on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, job boards… Investing significant amounts of money to attract job candidates.
However, much of this is wasted effort. Let me explain.
Candidate’s organizations are targeting are encouraged to go to the company’s career page, where they read lofty descriptions of how wonderful, and forward thinking and exciting “XYZ” company is. “A place where employees can grow and achieve great things,” they promise.
Then, innocently enough, the interested job seeker attempts to submit her/his résumé, using the applicant tracking system (ATS), conveniently located right there on the career portal. Importantly, the company makes it very clear that submitting your résumé through the ATS is the only way to apply for a job.
And it’s at this inflection point where everything goes straight to hell.
A CareerBuilder survey from 2014 states that 60 percent of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. Other industry sources say that the abandonment rate may be conservative, according to a 2016 SHRM study.
Recently, on TotalPicture Radio, I interviewed Kevin W. Grossman, vice-president, Talent Board, (the non-profit that’s behind the Candidate Experience Awards). He shared a story of a woman he met at one of the CandE workshops. She spent almost two hours struggling to cut-and-paste her résumé into the company’s ATS, finally hit the submit button, and immediately received a rejection notice. Subsequently, this same company reached out to her about a job opening — obviously, she wanted nothing to do with them. Do you blame her?
The headline of this article came from an email I received this week from a listener to TotalPicture Radio. Unfortunately, the exasperation and frustration he expressed are far too common…
Been a big fan of yours for many years! I am a “free agent” since October, due to a corporate layoff, and took the time to listen to all of your TPR podcasts over the last five years. I just saw your latest tweet about the candidate experience and can’t believe that in 2016, almost 2017, this is still being discussed, debated, and resisted! WHY IS THIS SO HARD????
I had a pretty rotten experience just last week with New York Community Bank’s ATS (or whatever that thing is – not very friendly at all!) where I uploaded my resume and it took 45 minutes to re-enter all the info in the many, many fields they requested, because their system can’t ingest a simple Word doc or PDF. My resume had no fancy formatting, no special characters, no ridiculous Wingdings or any of that other stuff. Yet it made a complete mish-mash of the data and forced me to re-enter everything. What is the point of that?
As a Baby Boomer and someone with a high level of patience, this really is causing my job search fuse to grow very short. Almost seventeen years into the 21st Century and job searching is barely better than when Ogg the Caveman went out to find a position as an animal hunter!
Please accept the above as “venting from the trenches”. I am a loyal listener and enjoy all of your offerings. Keep up the good work and be well!
Honestly, I’m just as perplexed by his experience. He applied to a consumer-facing business. Do you think he will EVER want to do business with this bank? Will he ever recommend it to a friend?
I spoke with Jeanne Meister today, co-author of The Future Workplace Experience — 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees. A key insight that organizations need to embrace: “All generations of employees are approaching the workplace with a consumer mindset.” (Emphasis added.)
Actually, there is a bright side to this story: There are companies out there that are working to improve the candidate experience. Their senior leadership recognizes the problem and are devoting their time, resources and money to improving the candidate experience, including the application process and the methods they use to respond to candidates.
You’ll find 50 of these companies on the list of the 2016 CandE winners.
A number of the 2016 CandE winners are consumer-facing business, like AT&T, Capital One, Delta, Jetblue, and T-Mobile. These CandE winners understand that their customers are potential employees and the way they treat job candidates will have a positive (or negative) impact on the bottom line.
CandE winners like Cumming, GE, Deloitte, Lockheed, and SWIFT want to stand out in a hyper-competitive job market as an employer of choice. A way to stand out is to provide a positive candidate experience: whether the candidate is hired or not.
Job seekers today are quick to share over social networks like Glassdoor and LinkedIn – either the mind-boggling frustration or positive impression of the company. A horrific job application experience, similar to the two described here, can have a long-term and far-reaching impact on a company’s employment brand, and future ability to attract high demand candidates.
The 2016 North American CandE Awards set a new program record with more than 240 participating companies and 183,000 job seekers sharing their thoughts and experiences as candidates — 84 percent of whom did not get the job, yet maintained a positive attitude toward the company because they were communicated with, treated fairly, and with respect. As a result, they would recommend the company to their friends and would consider applying to the same company again.
NOTE: Peter Clayton is a volunteer member of the CandE Council.