As the #SHRM10 is winding down today in San Diego, I’m reflecting on some conversations I’ve had with both human resource professionals and job seekers. And, it’s come to my realization that there is significant frustration on both sides of the hiring table.
There are more applicants per open position than ever before and HR teams are overwhelmed and often understaffed to handle this huge volume with delicacy and poise to not ‘offend’ job applicants who don’t make it to the first, second or third round.
Job seekers on the other hand are so fed up with putting forth effort, energy and their enthusiasm into submitting (sometimes through a painfully long applicant tracking software process) only to receive…nothing. Nada. Zilch. Maybe they receive an automatic “Thank you for your application. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” Job seekers walk away from the process disgruntled.
So, what’s the solution? Well, I was doing some reading last night and discovered this recent article “Human Resources and Branding. Treating Job Applicants Like Customers.” Frank Marafiote offers some excellent (and often easy-to-implement) tips on how HR can create a better ‘user’ experience:
The contacts we have with job applicants represent a golden opportunity to sell our organizations. Just because they have applied for a job doesn’t mean they really understand your company, its mission, goals, or its contributions to the community and other stakeholders. Through the use of links to appropriate sections of your corporate web site or a small but well-designed brochure, you can educate applicants, create goodwill and — yes — possibly win a new customer.
The concept of treating applicants like potential customers isn’t anything new. But, I wonder how many HR departments have taken the time to really invest energy (ok, and a little money) into drafting a policy and/or program and actually stick to it?
- Search and apply to a job on my career site using a real resume and see how satisfied I feel at the end of the process.
- Based upon my personal experience applying to my own company (which probably will receive a failing grade), I’m anticipating the following steps are necessary:
- Meet with my ATS/TAS vendor to ensure I’m using all automated components available to me (for free) and that I’m using all of the ‘personalization’ options that come along with those components as well. (ie. Instead of taking the easy path of just sending an automated email “Dear Applicant” set it up so that it begins with “Hi First Name”).
- Review the content of all automated emails that my ATS/TAS is sending out to applicants. Determine how I can make these emails sound, read and look better (Add graphics? Add links to external newsletters? Add links to special awards or announcements?) I know Alstin has a number of excellent services in these areas.
- Review the percentage of applicants entering my application process and how many exit. You’d be surprised to find out the ratio. Determine (if possible) where applicants are dropping of and work closely with your ATS/TAS team (yes, they do usually know what they are talking about when it comes to an applicant experience) and streamline (read: remove lots of stupid steps and questions) your application process.
- Perform a “Mystery Shopper/Mystery Job Applicant” follow up call. Call in and/or attempt to email a recruiter on the team to get follow up information on your resume/application. What response did you receive? Did you get to talk with a human being? Was your experience positive? If not, consider (based on your volume) a designated person/people within your recruiting team to field follow up emails and phone calls. Provide them with the tools necessary to do a good job:
- Draft various email responses for people you are not considering – make them as personal and as polite as possible.
- Draft various phone scripts/pointers for talking with job applicants on the phone. If the message is clear, concise and genuine, they will walk away with a greater level of satisfaction.
- Check with your Marketing or PR department about external eNewsletters or some other follow up material that is available to the public that you could offer as a method of we’d like to “keep in touch.” By reaching out your hand, you’d be surprised to see the positive results.
- Use Social Media tools. If you aren’t sure how, contact Alstin about the best ways to promote and use your Facebook Page, your Twitter Job Channel or how to set up an employee blog…all of these tools job applicants are searching or and are great ways to increase the level of engagement to your audience and make it a truly positive experience.
Well, that’s all for now. Happy Tuesday! (btw: I did finish the Philly Sprint Triathlon, one minute less than the year before. And, I can’t help but think about the family of the man who didn’t make it out of the Schuylkill River. That was a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.)