Have you ever found yourself watching a horror movie and yelling “no, don’t go in there!” as one of the characters decides there’s something in the dark, scary basement they just need to get?
I have. And that’s the same way I feel watching completely unsuspecting candidates click that “apply” button. They wouldn’t do it knowing what’s waiting for them, would it?
I find that a surprisingly high number of recruiters doesn’t seem to know exactly how much time it takes to apply to their company. It’s natural to forget, after a while, what they had been to while securing their current position (and those working in an RPO may not have gone through any of it with the company they represent), but there’s no reason not to run a quick test as a reminder.
It’s best to ask your entire team to join and divide people into two groups – one will be responsible for checking the desktop experience while the other one will try to apply for the roles using their phones. Ask one person from each group to measure the time.
This could really go many different ways. You might discover that the application process is long and painful and requires typing in the same information that’s already found in a CV. You might be surprised and see that it’s not that difficult and only takes a couple of minutes. Either way, you’ll be getting valuable information you simply need to ensure the right candidate experience.
The truth is you may not be able to simply replace one ATS for a new one. It may not be your decision or it may not be a decision that you’re able to make right here and now. But there’s a couple of ways to ensure a decent candidate experience that don’t involve big changes.
I remember working on a system so old, it was no longer available for new clients to purchase. Somehow my employer was able to keep their existing deal while they were looking for a new solution (a process they started before I joined and finished – if at all, I’m not sure – after I left). Surprisingly, the candidates loved the system and so did I. As it turned out, while functionality available to system users was limited, candidates only needed a couple of minutes to apply for a role on their mobile phone.
I obviously used this information to encourage candidates to apply. “It won’t even take 5 minutes, just have a look at the link I’m sending just now. I bet you can do it in 3!” and so they tested my claim. It clearly seemed too good to be true and this opportunity to verrify my claim helped me to establish trust.
I would keep candidates equally informed if the news was bad. I’d tell themin order to submit their application they’ll need a CV and a good half an hour and in some cases, they may want to check their school and university grades as we may ask about those too.
We’re all busy people and a recruitment process is a massive undertaking from a cadidate perspective. Which is why you need to be transparent about just how much time it takes to apply (and to interview, and to wait for feedback, and to receice an offer…) at your company. You don’t want people to start filling in the form only to abandon it halfway through.
Job ads are great for recruiters who like to be invisible. None of your candidates even knows who you are until you decide to call them and schedule a short interview. You’re in control of who gets to contact you. But what if you’re missing out?
Reading through a job ad won’t always inspire confidence in candidates. Maybe they’re not sure they have the right qualifications? Maybe there’s something they need to find out about the company before they apply? Forcing everyone to send in their CV as the very first step in the process simply isn’t going to work. You might find that adding your email address or phone number (or a calendly link) allows you to speak to people that wouldn’t otherwise apply.
I’ve worked with several different ATS and CRM systems and there’s something that they all have in common. No one on the team ever seems to know all of their functionalities. Very often the decision to move to a new system is made without a really good understanding of all of the options that the current one offers.
So before you start building a case for introducing new software to process candidate data, start by creating a map of your current process including all the areas you find to be troublesome. It may be the application process or the way candidate can access their data or the way you store interview notes. Put anything that isn’t working well on a list and share it with your system provider. Maybe there are ways to address these issues wihout having to move to a new tool
We keep joking about a horrible application process being a good way to measure candidate motivation. But let’s not be naive, making this first step of the process doesn’t help us hire the best candidates. Rather, like Bill Boorman often says in his presentations, it changes the recruitment process into Game of Thrones. We no loger hire the best candidates, but those who, after many horrible steps in the process, remained alive.
We can certainly do better and there’s no excuse not to start today. What impacts candidate experience the most isn’t the tools you’re working with, but your own attitude towards your work.