Why The Online Job Search Is Broken

by Ryan Healy on October 17, 2011

Companies are spending millions on employer branding, recruitment advertising and online sourcing – and they’re generally doing a good job. I’ve been amazed by some of the innovative techniques companies are using to reach and connect with candidates through social media.

A Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey reports 87 percent of employers are using Linkedin to find high potential candidates, 55 percent of employers have a Facebook presence, and 47 percent are using Twitter to build their employer brand and have conversations with job seekers.

However, while using social media to recruit and spread your message has made major headlines in recent years, most companies have failed to pay attention to everything that happens after a candidate clicks the ‘apply now’ button – the candidate experience.

According to a study by Potentialpark, 94 percent of job seekers report using the Internet to find career-related information (no surprise), but 74 percent are frustrated by the impersonal and non-transparent online application process – if you’re in the industry, again this is probably no surprise.

Far too often, as soon as candidates are entered into an applicant tracking system their hands are tied.  They are told to sit back and wait to hear next steps, and their candidate experience has all but ended.  If this is a great candidate with a great resume, and the right qualifications, they might hear back two to three weeks later.  At that point it’s a crapshoot as to whether the candidate found a better job or wrote your company off all together.

On the other side, candidates who are not a fit will most likely never hear from your company again.  If they do, it will be a generic “thanks, but no thanks” message, months after the fact. Candidates are left with a bad taste in their mouths – and no innovative Twitter campaign, funny YouTube video or engaging Facebook page will ever change that.

This means you lost your opportunity to add all of these candidates – the good fits and the bad fits – to your talent pipeline.  When it’s time to fill more positions, you’ll repeat the same old process and spend hundreds of thousands on sourcing and messaging because you won’t have a talent pipeline ready to hear from you.

In their comprehensive Candidate Experience ReportGerry Crispin, Mark Mehler and their team of contributors make the case that delays at any stage of the recruitment process are almost guaranteed to negatively impact candidate reactions – and this is especially true of better quality candidates.

Crispin and his team are now organizing The Candidate Experience Awards, and I for one, am ecstatic to see people finally giving this part of the process the recognition it deserves.  It’s time to start thinking about the steps after the apply now button as an integral part of a recruiting and employer branding strategy, not an afterthought.

In his HR Examiner post on eliminating the black hole, Colin Kingsbury eloquently makes the point that there is a massive imbalance of time, money, resources and energy put into outward facing recruitment marketing compared to the candidate experience process itself.

He says, “All it takes is one or two clicks for a jobseeker to transport herself from that world of fantasy and into the bowels of the company’s ATS, where impersonal job descriptions and bureaucratic application processes dishearten even the most enthusiastic applicant.”

While the ‘apply now’ button was once the answer, it has now turned into the problem.  It’s the beginning of a long and painful process, but companies continue to devote their time and resources to everything that takes place before a candidate hits apply now rather than looking at the bigger picture and treating it as a complete process.

At Brazen, we’re thinking long and hard about how we can help.  Brazen Connect, our soon to be released applicant engagement system, is a great start.  Dozens of other organizations are already addressing the problem in unique ways, and many more will come.  In the coming years, there will be plenty of technology options for companies to broaden their focus and improve their candidate experience, but it all starts with recognizing that the ‘apply now’ button is not the end goal, it’s just the beginning.

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