The Applicant Experience

There have been some advantages to redundancy. I’ve been able to spend more time with my young family, as well as catch up on some house renovations.I’ve been screening and selecting product suppliers and contractors to help deliver my house renovations much like I would a candidate applying for a vacancy.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been on the candidate side of the fence and I thought I would blog about this experience to date.

Firstly, NEVER burn your bridges. The power of the referral is KING. Thanks to my connections and networks my details have been circulated far and wide whilst names of prospective employers and contacts were also referred. Of the 7 positions/organisations I have applied to, 5 have been through referrals with 2 via job boards. Thank you to one and all who have supported me, referred my details or forwarded on details of contacts.

I’ve still had to formally apply online to the majority and its been a pretty A-typical process. What I noticed was this;

* None of the corporate career sites were mobile friendly
* When using a mobile device and applying via SEEK, you were always directed to the corporate career site of the employer. You could not apply via your SEEK account
* Only 1 company allowed for Facebook or LinkedIn registration, but then still required your resume to be uploaded
* Some companies are getting their act together in relation to providing some engaging content on their corporate career site. Most of it is highly polished, and produced.
* Not many provide real social media engagement with the prospective applicants. Most are simply spewing out news feeds.
* Automated responses could be improved greatly by providing more engaging content to review “whilst you wait” for a response.

There are some big areas for improvement here.

Stats have been indicating a growing trend of applicants coming from mobile devices and yet NONE of the sites I applied to have this capability. Even SEEK is saying that over 50% of job searches are using mobile devices to look for jobs, although you can’t actually apply for a job using SEEK on a mobile device either? Go figure.

Engaging Content. Get some! I’m interested in your company but don’t want to waste a day trawling your website. Some companies have moved towards separate corporate career sites with targeted information job seekers want. More should be doing this. Social Media is there to engage with your audience, flooding it with job vacancies, news articles which are simply fed from your media department is not engaging. I want to converse with your employees to get a better account of you as an employer (warts and all). Automated response emails are killing your brand. Why not include information not contained within your website to the prospective employee? Maybe a short video, infographic on the recruitment process, additional focus on culture and values etc….these are low cost initiatives (well they can be..but don’t tell marketing haha). If you don’t have a talent community, get one, I want in.

Update me! We all hear about how bad internal recruitment teams are at getting back to applicants with status updates. Not much has changed here, although this  might be due to the large number of referrals to roles. I’d love to see the stats of these internal teams and what they believe is a reasonable time frame to respond to folks. Of the 7 organisations, 3 have been outstanding in relation to feedback and updates. One organisation/contact even said to me “applications close next week and you’ll get a response then”. Guess what…. currently no response. I was hoping for a bit more professional courtesy.

I can appreciate the volumes of roles and applications can be overwhelming at times, and I too have been guilty of applicant response tardiness. What I can assure folks of is that wherever I end up, there will be a real focus on the candidate application experience. As they say ‘First impressions count’ and from what I can see there is real competitive advantage in the market if you get this right.

Organisations should be surveying applicants in relation to their experience, what they want to see more or less of. Just as product companies and service based companies survey their suppliers, this is an organisations opportunity to very quickly crowd source business improvement ideas.

Organisations should trust their employees more, and have them post content to social media channels, or act as brand ambassador’s on social media. I would trust them more, over a marketing and comms teams sales spin. I want to hear from people on the ground, sure the odd manager is great as they can better articulate strategy, but the person on the ground is how your business survives. Give me variety, give me the truth, give me reality.

Employers need to better target or segment their talent. Whilst culture and values are core, what a Graduate, a Project Manager, or Executive wants, needs is different to one another. Their motivations, aspirations, are different. Wouldnt it be great if content was targeted to roles, or even employee benefits buts that’s another blog for a later time. Imagine if a PM applies to a role, and content specific to this role is then issued to them. Wow, now that’s impressive. Yes, it might get a little more expensive, but isn’t this a war for talent?

The truth is out there.