Organizations need to rethink their hiring process or they are going to miss out on top talent.
By Jed Hamilton
Human resource executives are constantly finding themselves in the middle of an important dialogue between business leaders and hiring managers: Are we confident that our current recruitment process is attracting the right candidates, or does it need to be revaluated? Jibe’s recent survey results reveal there is much to be desired with regard to the current application process, and that much more needs to be done to ensure that companies are attracting quality employees.
The 2014 Jibe Talent Acquisition Survey, conducted by independent research firm Kelton Global, polled more than 1,000 job seekers and more than 300 HR professionals and revealed five crucial findings:
1. Job seekers are often frustrated by outdated technology and the inefficient processes involved in the online application experience;
- There is a disconnect among job seekers between the expectations and the reality when searching and applying for jobs;
- While HR professionals understand the importance of improving the candidate experience to secure top talent, they face their own internal and technological challenges to meet the needs of today’s job seeker;
- HR and talent acquisition recognize that there is a problem, though just how deep the frustrations are may not be fully realized; and
- The impact of not improving candidate experience across the talent acquisition landscape is very real, and potentially very severe.
As a whole, these data findings serve as a wakeup call to industry professionals. Antiquated processes need revision in order to attract potential employees, including the tech-savvy generation of millennial job seekers.
The survey shows that organizations are often not mobile optimized and the level of dissatisfaction with the online search process is striking. A majority of job seekers describe their search as time-consuming (80 percent), stressful (78 percent), discouraging (71 percent), and even painful (60 percent). Furthermore, three in five job seekers feel that job applications are more challenging to fill out than other common types of applications, including those required to apply for a mortgage (48 percent), get health insurance (46 percent), or a student loan (32 percent).
As more and more tech savvy, millennial job candidates enter the workforce—who use technology in seemingly every aspect of their lives—the online application isn’t just one option for applying, it is essentially the only means of applying. To ensure that companies aren’t passed over by top talent due to a poor user experience, HR and talent acquisition executives must optimize their current job application process for both mobile and desktop users.
Some may question that today’s job seeker expects too much from employers. But Jibe’s survey reveals that even the most basic expectations are not being met.
A majority of job seekers (51 percent) expect to be informed by the hiring company about the status of their application, but only 14 percent say they actually are. Six in 10 (60 percent) job seekers generally expect companies to reply to applicants in a timely manner, yet just 20 percent feel most companies do. And while 51 percent of job seekers expect clear communication from employers about the application process, only about one in four report that they receive this.
With the proliferation of devices making the world increasingly borderless, today’s candidates expect a certain level of connectivity, and HR executives are not immune to this high standard. It should become a best practice for all HR departments to maintain regular communication with perspective employees throughout their application process. If this aspect of the recruiting process is not remedied, companies run the risk of losing quality candidates. The best candidates generally have multiple opportunities in front of them, so what’s to stop them from moving on when they encounter a poor experience?
The candidate experience is a powerful driver across the talent acquisition landscape. Thirty-seven percent of recruitment professionals are concerned that their company’s application process is deterring quality hires. That concern is legitimate, as almost one quarter (23 percent) of job seekers agrees that if they had issues filling out an online application, they’d never apply at that company again. And nearly half (44 percent) say they would put off or not apply at all when encountering an outdated online application process. The impact, however, is not just limited to candidates, it could also affect the company’s product side as well. One quarter of talent acquisition practitioners think that this limitation might even prevent consumers from buying products or services from that company. If companies fail to heed the feedback given throughout these data findings, they run the risk of making themselves virtually obsolete to a new generation of not only employees but customers.
Despite these setbacks for job seekers, there is good news: HR and talent acquisition executives recognize that a disconnect exists between expectations and reality.
But just how deep those frustrations are may not be fully realized. Most practitioners report that it is extremely important for candidates to feel their application process is clear (69 percent), user-friendly (64 percent), and easy (56 percent). Yet most admit that if they were applying for a job at their company today, it’s unlikely they could describe the experience in those terms. More than half of professionals surveyed agree that candidate experience is important to their hiring practices, but almost four in 10 report that improving the candidate experience is one of their greatest challenges. Plus, 35 percent feel it’s hard to keep candidates engaged throughout the application process and communicate effectively with them at each step. While acknowledging there is a problem is half the battle, more needs to be done to implement change.
When factoring in the number of available tools and channels that are designed to increase connectivity, difficulties associated with candidate engagement become even more frustrating. But the majority of talent acquisition pros are struggling with the tools currently available to them. A majority of professionals reported that the tools they use today are not intuitive (65 percent), not easy to customize (59 percent), and don’t save them time (53 percent) or money (58 percent). Almost two in three (64 percent) express some dissatisfaction with or plans to replace their current applicant tracking system (ATS). Adopting some of the new breed of recruitment marketing tools on the market can significantly improve both the recruiter and the candidate experience. Talent acquisition teams can use these solutions to meet the expectations of today’s job seeker through effective, targeted outreach programs that maximize efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve the company’s employer brand.
When these findings are boiled down, what remains is one fundamental issue: HR executives need to reevaluate their current processes. Over the last five years, the industry collectively has seen a boom in technology that has not only shaped a new generation, but redefined a new generation of employees. Change is not always easy, but as it relates to the current state of job applications, it must happen.
Jed Hamilton is director of communications for Jibe, Inc.