do you prevent great talent from applying?

road closedThere is so much being said about the “war for talent” right now. So much new technology. So many vendors out there ready to help. Plenty of snazzy tech solutions to automate much of the hiring process. Unfortunately, we often forget that even the best technology is a tool, not a solution. And like all tools, it can be used poorly.

The other day I spoke to a human resources professional who was “in transition” and looking for work without much luck. It wasn’t the difficulty getting a job that had her most frustrated; she was surprised and appalled at how badly candidates were treated by companies. She’s not alone.

I’m amazed there are so many companies that simply don’t comprehend: 1) there is a huge advantage from a great candidate experience; and 2) you build a great candidate experience the same way you create a great customer experience – by thinking about it from their point of view and making it as simple and painless as possible. It’s as though they have a 21 Century mindset for competing for customers and a 1930s belief that employees are completely interchangeable cogs and should be grateful the company would consider hiring them.

Great talent has more options. They generally don’t have to put up with a poor candidate experience. AND that candidate experience is their first look at what it’s like to work for the company. Difficult, arcane, indifferent, condescending, black holes? Cyabye!

I am a big fan of rigorous selection systems. I believe companies should hire as though their future success or failure depends on the people in the organization and their decisions and actions (hint: it does). Technology (theoretically) enables us to automate much of the drudgery and makes it easier to connect with candidates, simplify the application and selection process, and make communication a breeze.

Or, technology can be used indifferently to automate the wrong parts of the process, make applying complicated and difficult, and turn communication into a meaningless checkbox activity. Some examples:

  • The careers section of the company website is difficult to find, confusing, or has contradictory information about how to apply.
  • The position description is vague, confusing, or doesn’t provide enough information. This isn’t a fault of the technology, but can lead to other problems when the technology makes it difficult/impossible to learn more.
  • Expressing interest in a position and trying to find out more requires setting up an online account (because we all need another password to remember) and going through the entire application process. Which requires providing sensitive personal information. The potential applicant has to reveal birth date and social security number just to find out if the job is actually something they are interested in. No. Major fail. Great talent will simply move on and continue looking elsewhere.
  • If a computer glitch happens, there is no way to contact a human to get it sorted out. Locked out of your application? Too bad.
  • Otherwise qualified candidates are automatically screened out by the system because they don’t meet a rather arbitrary set of qualifications. Too often, the nice-to-have qualifications are turned into must-haves that reject otherwise outstanding candidates.
  • Otherwise qualified candidates are automatically screened out because their resume doesn’t have enough of the specific key words the system is looking for.
  • Generic communication is sent out in batches. This is a time saver. It’s also a great way to send rejection letters to candidates with an offer in hand or reject someone who bowed out of the hiring process a full month ago.

What else? What other candidate experience failures are out there? Failures that would be soooo easy to correct if someone thought about the process from the candidates’ point of view?

It’s easy to think this doesn’t matter because there are plenty of applicants. But, are they the right applicants? Is technology making it easier for great people to apply or is it driving them away? Fortunately, if you have a lousy hiring process and a miserable candidate experience, you’re not alone. So many companies fail at this that many just consider it normal. That’s a low bar and an easy one to hurdle.

The nice thing about so many companies being so bad is that it’s really easy to stand out.

[Photo Credit: Sarah Korf via Compfight]

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