Category Archives: Applicant Tracking Systems

How to Create a Positive Applicant Experience

candidate experience

13 ways to create a positive applicant experience:  View Slides

 Career Site Tools for Self-Analysis

Visit http://usability.mystaffingpro.com for the following tools:

  • Usability Quiz
  • Usable Not Confusable White Paper
  • Webinar Recording
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Usable HR Technology Doesn’t Mean Less Clicks

In the late 90s when usability first came to software developers’ attention, a lot of focus was made on the number of clicks a user made and the tracking of the eye on a software interface to reduce user memory.  While these are still important considerations, the science of usability has advanced to include the persuasion of a user to accomplish a specific goal.

In recruiting, the goal is to find a good match for a job.  While efforts to reduce the number of clicks for an online application are admirable, they are not necessarily meeting the end goal of the application.  The focus should be on an easy to use interface that allows an applicant to show whether or not he fits the job.

“The future of design is about creating engagement and commitment to meet measurable business goals.” – Dr. Eric Schaffer / Founder and CEO Human Factors International, Inc. in his white paper “Beyond Usability”

When applicants are polled regarding what they do not like about online job applications, they don’t complain about the number of clicks, but rather the lack of information about the job, the irrelevancy of the information collected,  the limited data formats accepted and the lack of follow-up.  Most of these are soft areas that relate more to content than technology.  However, in both applicants and recruiters minds, all of it is technology.

candidate experience

From The Candidate Experience Monograph by Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler, with others.

HR tech vendors can help assist their clients by providing suggested content, best practices information during implementation and staying on the cutting edge of consumer focused technology.  The end goal of a talent management application must be to find the best fit for the job, while leveraging technology to save as much time and effort as possible, and to enforce compliance.  The end goal often gets lost within the latest industry buzz words and trends, but it must stay in the forefront in order to create truly usable hr technology.

Job Applicants Want a Touchable Application Process – It’s Time to Give it To Them

touch table at SXSW

I heard a lot of frustration in their voices.  A very tech savvy crowd yes, but still unsure how to present themselves as a job applicant.  “I have a beautiful resume, but the online application is asking me to cut and paste my resume,” laments one job seeker.

“I fill my resume with keywords, but never hear a word from the company after filling out the online application.”

“How do I link up to my online portfolio when they just want me to type in my work experience?”

The questions during the SXSW 2012 session on “Online Personality Disorder: Resumes and Profiles” highlighted the gap between the expertise of the applicant, and the technology of the average applicant tracking system.  I had to raise my hand and admit I am with an applicant tracking system (although one of those that does allow portfolio uploads, online profiles, and formatted resumes), and suggest that when a cut and paste resume is required (by an ancient system, ahem), make sure to put a link to your online profile/ portfolio at the top of the resume text.

In this age of TVs that change the channel based on your hand motions, video enabled vending machines that measure your smile, and touch table computers, basic electronic resume applications fall flat.

The truth is that applicants want to reach out and touch the application process.  They want to put their unique mark on their application – they want to demonstrate their passion and their skills.  They don’t necessarily want to apply with just “two clicks,” they want to interact with the organization and provide relevant information.

And the truth is, hiring managers want to let them.  But too often time constraints and technology get in the way.  The solution isn’t to go back to the paper resume or in-person hiring event.  The solution is to adapt applicant tracking technology to let applicants express themselves, while automating as much as possible.

Here’s some ideas on making the online application and the hiring process “touchable” for the applicant, and still protect the hiring manager’s time:

  • Allow the applicant to upload digital portfolios, images, and formatted resumes as part of their online application
  • Provide easy ways for the applicant to link to their online professional content
  • Give applicants status updates throughout the process – via email, text or a self-service portal.
  • Word status updates and email communication as personally and warmly as professionally possible, so applicants realize they are communicating with a real person
  • Consider using a company like Send Out Cards to send out recycled paper thank you notes with a status update after a phone interview.
  • Provide a kiosk in the employer’s lobby to allow applicants to apply online and/or check their status.  It’s relatively inexpensive to do with an ipad kiosk.
  • Use in-depth job descriptions and basic pre-screening questions to allow applicants who aren’t a fit to self-select out.  This allows more time for the hiring manager to review the information of qualified applicants.

Technology doesn’t have to be impersonal.  In fact, most innovation in tech sectors over the last few years has focused on making technology more and more personal.  Talent management systems and HR can provide a touchable application experience for applicants.  We all just have to try harder.

The Job Search: Some Paper Airplanes Use the Right Airport

There’s been a trend within the last couple months of national news media focusing on the black hole of the applicant experience, sending out the vibes that all applicant tracking systems work the same, and basically, suck.  Frankly, it’s embarrassing to me for my industry to be represented this way.

While I’d concur that there are some popular applicant tracking systems that serve as resume black holes, not all ATS’s are made the same.  A good ATS can ensure that the hiring organization follows a structured process that ensures every applicant is reviewed, whether by machine or man, for the jobs.

When users of our applicant tracking system post a job on their career site, a short questionnaire is attached to the job.  That questionnaire has been customized by HR based on the requirements of the job, and usually contains around 4-5 questions that can easily screen applicants out or in.  One Fortune 500 user who hires engineers includes questions such as “Are you at least 18 years of age – AND – able to provide proof you are eligible to work in the country where this position is posted?” and “What is your highest level of education?”  Simple answers to these questions can screen out 20% of the applicants up front.  Applicants are presented with a kind message letting them know they don’t meet the basic criteria – a great example of software narrowing down the applicants the organization has to wade through and providing instant feedback to the applicant.

Next, the applicant answers a couple more specific questions about the job that may not filter them out of the running, but provide valuable feedback to the person reviewing the app.  For example, many companies will ask an open ended question such as “Why are you interested in working for us in this position?”  This type of question provides an opportunity for the applicant to shine – to communicate his enthusiasm for the job, and outline why he is a good fit.  Lastly, the applicant provides a resume or fills out structured information about his work experience and education.

When the application is submitted, it is put into a queue for the hiring organization to review.  Most of our users ask a HR Generalist to first step through and review each application.  The generalist then flags those that are the best fit for the hiring manager to review, and with a couple clicks, sends all the top applications to the hiring manager via an easy to use web portal.  The hiring manager will then review the best applications and note which applicants should be invited for an interview.  Those applicants that are not a fit are updated to a not-qualified status.  The ATS automatically sends them an email informing them of their status.

Only when the above steps do not provide great candidates do our users begin to search across resumes using keywords.  And when they do, they are searching across job titles, essentially offering applicants a second chance at being matched to a good job.

Intelligently using an applicant tracking system in this way provides feedback to applicants, saves HR and hiring managers time, and provides a way for applicants to demonstrate their best fit to a real person.  Our clients don’t have to worry about their applicants’ resumes falling into a black hole, or paper airplanes finding no place to land.

Jennifer Brogee
Certified Usability Analyst
CIO, myStaffingPro

10 Technology Commandments for HR When Hiring In 2012

1.  HR shall not be intimidated by IT folk who talk in big, scary words.

2.  HR shall not let their software lead them, but shall lead the software to help meet their goals.

3.  HR shall not collect a bunch of superflous information from applicants via an online application, just because they can.

4.  HR shall not allow their marketing department to place the link to the career section anywhere but on the home page of the brand web site.

5.  HR shall not let resumes slip into the infamous black hole, but rather should get to know their ATS and use it.

6.  HR shall not buy any software without first understanding why they need it.

7.  HR shall not assume that the software companies with the biggest marketing budgets have the best software for their needs.

8.  HR shall understand and walk through their hiring process as an applicant from beginning to end at least once a year.

9.  HR shall not waste their applicants’ nor their recruiters’ time with extraneous information gathering and unncessary form validation.

10.  HR should keep asking questions of technology experts until they gain the understanding they want and need.

10 Steps to a Super Usable Career Site

Super Usable Career Site

It is possible to have a dynamic career site that attracts high quality applicants, while reducing the time to fill.  The below strategies will give you a jump start in making a super usable career site.

Be Accommodating

Design the web site for multiple browsers, for mobile, ipad and for plain text readers.

Show Your True Colors

Leverage your corporate brand and decorate your career site with colors, logos and wording that reflects your culture.

Make it Easy to Apply Now

Put a link to your career site on the company’s home page.  Reduce the number of clicks needed to get to a list of active jobs.  Make the apply now button stand out.

Provide Clear and Relevant Job Information

Write easy to understand job titles and descriptions.  Provide information applicants will need to know about the job up-front so they can either become enthusiastic about how well they fit the criteria, or self-select out at the beginning of the process.

Outline Expectations

Once the applicant clicks on the Apply Now button, provide information on how long the process will take, what information is needed, and what the next steps in the hiring process are.

Collect Only What You Need

Put your thinking cap on and figure out exactly what information will need to be collected during the initial application to make a decision to move the applicant ot the next step of the hiring process. Don’t collect info that is needed three steps down the road.  Use a phase 2 application for additional information needed later.

Keep Forms Small

Usability studies show that “short term memory famously holds only about 7 chunks of information, and these fade from your brain in about 20 seconds” (Jakob Nielson, “Short Term Memory and Web Usability.”  Keep forms short so that the applicant’s mind doesn’t wander or get overwhelmed.

Give Progress Updates

Provide progress meters during the online application.  After the application is complete, provide status updates to the applicant via emails and online portals.

Follow-Up Often

Leverage auto-emails to stay in touch.  Let applicants know when they are no longer being considered.

Build a Relationship

Hook applicants up with social media.  Make your career site sticky by providing fresh content via a blog or youtube channel.

Follow these 10 strategies and watch your candidate pool increase in quality.  Stay tuned for more in-depth blogs outlining how to accomplish each of the above.

Grade Your Career Site for Usability

Out of order because of usability issuesWhen I was in Jr. High I used to love those quizzes in the teen magazines that helped me rate my fashion intelligence (never that good), or ranked me on my “friendability.”  I know the quizzes are still there because my daughter recently subjected me to her favorite one.  Taking it was fun, in a retro kind of way.  Because of that, our IT team put together a nifty quiz to score your career site against an optimal applicant experience!

Quiz:
http://mystaffingpro.com/resources/quiz.asp

After you take the quiz, if you find some holes in your candidate experience, sign-up for the webinar I’ll be  hosting on November 9th on “10 Essential Strategies for Making Your Career Site Usable, Not Confusable.”

Webinar registration:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/590491246

Stay tuned for the 10 essentials in future blogs!