Candidate Experience When the Candidate Is a Recruiting Professional

Like so many displaced talent acquisition professionals today, I’ve been navigating the job market for a new position. The experience has caused me to think a lot about how the experience of looking for a new job is confusing, exhausting, and difficult. And I’m a TA professional who generally knows the game!

Still, it’s one thing to know and now another thing to experience firsthand. This has caused me to have even greater empathy for job-seekers who don’t have any framework for how TA works.

Based on my current job-search adventures, I believe that TA needs to focus on three main areas to create a better hiring process.

1. Don’t Ignore Candidates

I know, this is hardly a new suggestion. But that’s what makes it so important — employers are still ignoring advice about ignoring candidates.

Most of my applications resulted in an immediate and automated “thanks for applying” message. I understood no human being was behind it, and this was OK. These messages reassured me that the application that I spent nearly one hour of time submitting didn’t somehow get lost in the digital atmosphere. Such automated messages are not my concern. It’s what happens next that is problematic. Or rather, what doesn’t happen next.

Weeks would go by with no follow-up. I felt ignored.

Granted, some companies give access to check the status of your application. And kudos to them, but keep in mind that if the status shows that the employer is “collecting applications” for days and weeks, that’s not a meaningful insight for a candidate.

If you can’t provide timely feedback to your applicants, then you should have a nurturing strategy that routinely provides relevant information. A simple “thanks for your interest in this position; we are currently reviewing applicants and you can expect to hear next steps from us by x date” is better than nothing at all. 

2. Fix the Application Process

Applying for roles takes too long. Without exception, every application that I filled out has consumed more time than should be necessary. The primary reason is because companies routinely seek information they don’t need. Here are two examples that I routinely experienced (and are so easy to improve upon):

Example #1: Month/Date/Year of Graduation 

Asking a candidate to supply their month/date/year of graduation is completely unnecessary for anything other than a job usually held by recent graduates. Do you remember the exact date you graduated? Me neither. I know what year and month, but I ended up forgetting the actual date I graduated the week after I graduated! Likewise, do you remember your GPA? Exactly.

I’m an adult now, and the date of my graduation and GPA have nothing to do with how well I will perform in a role. TA organizations, please shorten the application process by eliminating irrelevant requirements. 

Example #2: This! 

When I apply to a job that asks me for my CV and then goes on to require that I input information that is already on my CV into a list of additional data fields, the company’s process makes me feel: 

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  • That my time isn’t valuable 
  • That it was easier for the employer to have me screen my own CV than for the company to invest in sourcing capability and/or technology that would extract key details in the right ways

Experiences like this make the application process unnecessarily long, duplicative, and aggravating.

3. Do Not Confuse CRM for ATS

Candidates understand when they are applying to an actual position vs. when they are sharing information about themselves for potential future opportunities. In fact, I joined several talent communities at companies not to access immediate jobs that weren’t right for me but for the purpose of future visibility.

If you use your “join our talent community” link to capture the same information you would capture on a job application, you’re signaling red flags to your candidates. 

Red Flag #1: Not Valuing Candidates’ Time

For highly valued passive candidates, a key value proposition for joining a talent community is that it’s quick and easy. At least, it should be. In other words, it should not feel like an application process.

Companies that design their talent network on the basis of needing the same information that they capture for job applications put candidates in the position of either having to invest time they don’t want to or opt out and miss potential future opportunities. 

Red Flag #2: Lack of a Proactive Talent Pipeline Strategy

Most candidates without knowledge of how TA works may not identify this red flag, but if they invest the time to provide application-worthy information about themselves, only to then be ignored because there’s no immediate req match, they won’t find any value in the talent community. 

It’s only been a few months since we went from having a strong economy with lots of jobs to one with a sudden and uncertain future. However, recessions don’t last forever. While it may be tempting to ignore fixing these things now that there’s an abundance of active job-seekers, this is exactly the time for action.

When the job market recovers, not only will companies struggle to reach prized passive candidates, they will find that active job-seekers of today will remember your cumbersome process when they were at their most vulnerable. Now is the perfect time to focus on improving your hiring process. 

Coby Schneider is looking for her next opportunity after 12 years in talent acquisition roles at Intel. She is particularly passionate about talent pipelines: how to build them, how to engage them, how to convert them, and how to measure them.

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