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The Job Search Black Hole: 3 Ways Recruiters Can Improve the Candidate Experience

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If you’ve ever flown with a one-year-old, then you know it can get pretty stressful. But if you’ve ever flown solo with a one-year-old, then you’ll know it’s a whole other level of stress.

Recently I had to fly on a solo mission with my daughter, all the way from Austin to New York. How did it go? Let’s just say that my daughter wasn’t too keen on the whole flying thing. And she was, well… vocal about it.

However, what could have been a truly terrible experience was transformed into a great one by the crew. They checked in frequently and did everything they could to make the flight more enjoyable. And just before we landed, they came out and presented my daughter with a certificate, honoring her for an exceptional day of flight.

That great experience is one reason why, whenever possible, I always fly with the same airline.

But why am I talking about flying with a one-year-old on a blog dedicated to employer and recruiter insights? Let’s put it this way: it’s not just when we’re flying that the experience matters. Nowadays, people choose products, services, and companies based on the quality of experience they consistently have with them. And experience is crucial to recruiting, too.

The dreaded application black hole

Have you ever been stuck in traffic behind a car with an Apple logo on the back windscreen? Yes—some people love a brand so much they effectively tattoo their car with it. Heck, some people tattoo their bodies.

When people have a great experience, they want to share it. They talk about it with their friends, and in the 21st century they jump online and rave about it.

But remember: When people have a bad experience, they also talk about it. And this applies to recruiting just as much as anything else.

According to a 2016 report from Talent Board, candidates share their positive recruiting experiences with their inner circles more than 81% of the time, and negative ones are shared 66% of the time.

Only one person can land a specific job, but everybody can have a good experience for the duration of the journey, even if they’re not ultimately the chosen candidate.

Now, a study by Indeed found that waiting to hear back from a potential employer is the #1 pain point for 48% of job seekers (1). As one respondent told us,  “I always prefer to receive any response than no response at all.”

So what kind of experiences are candidates getting? Let’s look at some numbers.

Avoid the resume black hole

On average, 4% of candidates hear back within a day, 37% hear back within one week, and 44% within a couple weeks. Some wait months. And, let’s be honest, some never hear back at all.

Waiting, uncertainty, frustration….these are not good experiences. And job search is stressful enough already.

There’s a reason of course. Recruiters are swamped. In fact, screening applications and reviewing resumes is the #1 top reported pain point in the hiring journey reported by employers (2). Employers and job seekers alike are feeling the pain here. So what can be do to help candidates—and ourselves?

Three steps towards a solution

Well, you could invent a super intelligent AI to do all the candidate sorting and replying for you. But we’re not quite there yet. However, although there is no easy solution, there are some things recruiters can try while we’re waiting for the mega-bot to turn up. Here are three interesting examples I’ve seen of how recruiters are working today to improve the application experience.

1) Get personal

At Quicken Loans, HR recruiters call every candidate no matter what, even if it’s to turn them down. As the respondent above put it: it’s better to hear “no” than to hear nothing at all. This personal touch is part of a wider effort to create a positive customer service and culture experience.

It’s also pretty exceptional: According to Talent Board’s 2016 North American Candidate Experience Research Report, only 20% of applicants received an email from a recruiter or hiring manager notifying them they were not being considered, and only 8% received a phone call from a recruiter or hiring manager delivering the same message.

2) Admit it: You’re a robot

But maybe you don’t have the resources to call each applicant personally. Maybe the auto-response is as good as it’s going to get for now. Well, job seekers know an auto-response when they see one, so why not be upfront about it?

When project management firm Trello sends out an email from a robot, the robot admits it’s a robot. The good news is: it’s a friendly and helpful robot. It sets clear expectations by outlining the time limit it may take to review a candidate’s application—and even has a sense of humor, as this excerpt shows:

Next—yes, you will hear back from us. It is our policy to reply to all applications, even if we have to send you an unpleasant “go away, you smell bad” letter. We always tell people when we’re rejecting them for olfactory reasons.

Unconventional as Trello’s bot may be, it gets the candidate experience off to a good start by assuring them their application won’t get sucked into a black hole in a galaxy far, far away.

3) Be transparent

Why not use your career site to add transparency to the whole application process?

Here, General Motors provide a good example. Once a job candidate clicks on the site, they have access to a wealth of relevant information useful for applying to a job at GM, such as “who we are”,  “what we do”, and “why work with us”, as well as “where to find us” and “how to join our team.” The site also has lots of details on what to expect during GM’s hiring process.

GM’s efforts to make their careers site a transparent one leaves job candidates feeling reassured about the application process and positive about the company. (Don’t have a career site? Don’t worry: Indeed is here to help.)

By implementing one of these solutions you won’t solve the problem of improving the job seeker experience overnight. But the right one could help you create the kind of positive experience that could leave candidates recommending your firm to their friends even if they don’t get the job. And who doesn’t want that kind of word of mouth?

(1) Decipher/FocusVision “Confidence Curve” study on behalf of Indeed, 2017. 

(2) Decipher/FocusVision “Confidence Curve” study on behalf of Indeed, 2017

Olga Kazakova is Director of the Indeed Experience team.

Post a Job with Indeed


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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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5 Ways to Control Your Job Search (and Accept What You Can’t Control)

It’s exciting when you get the call from a potential employer about an interview for next Tuesday. You spend the weekend preparing for it, ensuring you have extra copies of your resume, going over key interview questions, and picking out the perfect professional attire.

Finally, Tuesday comes, and you head into the interviewer’s office, make eye contact, smile, and speak with confidence. You offer distinct examples of your expertise and how you are the solution to their problems.

Then, it’s over. You breathe a sigh of relief and walk away confident that you’ve made the best impression and you feel confident that you’ll get the job.

But then you receive the call -- they’ve gone with another candidate. You’re devastated. You start by thinking back, replaying every moment of the interview in your mind, and trying to discover what you did wrong. Did you over embellish an example? Were you too forthcoming with information? What could’ve gone wrong?

Would you be surprised if the problem was never really you? Actually, most of the time you’ll find employers don’t hire you not because you weren’t suited, but because there was someone who was better suited for the job.

Stings, doesn’t it? However, this is an example of an element of the job search that you cannot control. Instead of focusing on those factors outside your control, spend your time working on those elements you can control.

Here are 5 things within your control to improve on to ensure you’re well prepared for those future interviews.

#1 Refine your job-hunting efforts

You have to be prepared for all areas of the job search, which requires refining your efforts. Beyond checking job boards daily or looking at the classified ads in the paper, there are ways to make your job search more effective and efficient. Since 70% of recruiters use social media to determine an applicant’s candidacy, your online presence has to match your efforts.

What to do:

  • Update your social profiles: Remove anything that is less than professional, and update your status regularly. Share content that matches the potential employer you’re trying to impress.
  • Look at your network: Networking has become a key part of the job search now, it’s important to have a strong network of contacts in industries where you’d like to work.
  • Improve your personal branding: Are you consistent across all your social platforms with branding that represents your professional offerings? Use keywords that attract the right employers and share relevant content that engages such employers.

Non-controlling element: Remember, you can’t control which companies are hiring or why there isn’t enough availability for the job you want. Employers hire for positions based on need and budget. If their budget can’t cover a specific job, they won’t hire for it. Instead, they’ll probably lump it into another employee’s job responsibilities. Don’t wait for a company to open a job position, keep searching other companies for a similar position.

#2 Search for employers that need your skills/talents

Companies can hire for any position they need, and they may not always hire for your specific skills. If that’s the case, why are you waiting around for them to hire you? It can be tiring, wading through hundreds of job postings only to be disappointed by the current offerings.

What to do:

  • Try creating a list of employers you want to work for that need your skillset. Start with companies you’re familiar with and with places you’d like to work.
  • Research target companies using online resources (LinkedIn) and learn about their immediate needs, problems, and where your skills can make a difference.
  • Gather strong examples of your work and present yourself as the solution to their problems. Figure out what makes you unique and run with it. Don’t falter.

Non-controlling element: Not all jobs will be listed, and some companies only hire for a few major positions at a time. Sometimes, they don’t realize they need your expertise until you present it to them. Keep looking for companies within your industry/career, and reach out when you see an opportunity become available.

#3 Improve your performance and be prepared to sell yourself

The point of an interview is to sell yourself. You want to show ideal employers that you’re the solution to their problems, and that you have the knowledge and skills to make it happen. Before you go into your interview, you need to prepare yourself to make a good impression and to demonstrate your value.

What to do:

  • Understand the company:
    • Do you know the company? The industry?
    • Can you name their culture, brand style, or latest news?
    • Do you know their primary clients and what they offer?

All of this is key to selling yourself correctly by knowing the company to which you are applying.

  • Tell a story: The best marketers use storytelling to sell a product to a potential prospect. Try to imagine yourself as a marketer, selling yourself to a potential employer. When you use storytelling in your interview examples, you have a better chance of holding the interviewer’s interest. And more than that, over 60% of people are likely to remember a story better, especially if it has a major emotional impact on them.
  • Show don’t tell: Go beyond the normal phrases when giving examples of your background or talents. Instead of saying, “I’m a leader,” tell a story about a time you have lead a team to gain attention and show that you are a leader.
    • Try something like, “Successfully led two cross-functional sales and marketing teams to gain an ROI of $25M in less than six months.” This sounds stronger, more interesting, and detailed.

Non-controlling element: It’s a hard truth, but it is impossible to control candidate competition. Sometimes another person will make a better impression than you, or someone else may just be a better fit. But often, you can improve your impact on the interviewer by being enthusiastic, animated, and using storytelling to gain an advantage.

#4 Make yourself visible online

While you want to improve upon your personal brand through your social media profiles, it’s also important to make sure you’re visible online. This doesn’t mean having a Facebook page where you consistently post about your personal life. Your online presence should be visible so that it attracts the eyes of recruiters or hiring managers from companies you’re eager to work for.

What to do:

  • Stay active and engaged online: Say you’re looking for a job in Aerospace Engineering. You should be sharing content related to this job and industry.
  • Track top companies in your target industry: Share content from their blogs or look at their social media profiles to find relevant information to like and share on your own page.
  • Be active in online groups: Demonstrate your expertise by making relevant comments.

Non-controlling element: Because there is so much noise online, it’s not easy to stand out. And more to the point, no one is actively looking for you. You’ve got to stand out and gain the attention of recruiters by any means possible. Get their attention by tagging them in your social media posts.

#5 Don’t let rejection discourage you

Unfortunately, it’s easier to tell someone to not be discouraged than it is to feel it. Rejection hurts, and it’s especially true in the workforce. You need a job to make money to support yourself and perhaps a family. So, when you’re denied for a position, it can be the among worst feelings in the world.

But think of it like this: for every average job posting, there are 250 applicants. No joke. There are hundreds of people in need of work, and many will jump onto a single job posting with the hopes that they’ll be picked.

What you can do:

  • Apply to as many jobs as are available requiring your skillset. Use your research about companies to identify areas where your skills can be applied, and look for jobs targeting those skills. 
  • Always keep applying and networking; even when you get an interview. It’s a never-ending journey, and it takes about six weeks of hard, dedicated work before you’re even offered a job. The goal is to continue moving forward even when you’ve been rejected.

Non-controlling element: Ultimately, the final decision rests with the employer. You can’t control their decision to go with another candidate instead of you. Often, it’s not you that failed to interest them. Sometimes, they just clicked with the other candidate. Or, the other candidate knew just a little bit more about a topic than you did. And most often, you’ll never be told why you weren’t chosen.

Finding and securing a job you want is tough, but it can be done. When you take control of the right elements in your job search, you’ll be in a much better position to land the job of your dreams.

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