Tag Archives: Online Application

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

Get Real & Rate Your Candidate Experience


If you want to get real about your candidate experience, ask yourself these questions about your hiring process:

  1. Do my job postings contain complete information about the duties of the job, the requirements, and the conditions of the job in easy to read language?
  2. Do I communicate the length of time and the information required to fill out an application?
  3. Am I only asking only relevant information from the applicant via the online application?
  4. Do I give information to the applicant about the next steps in the hiring process?
  5. Do I provide timely status updates to my applicants?  And ideally, a way for the applicant to check their status online?
  6. Am I offering ways for my applicants to connect with my organization via social media or other communication methods?
  7. Do I disposition the candidates during the hiring process, and especially once the requisition is filled?

Then, apply to one of your own jobs and validate that everything works the way you think it should.

After you’ve done that, enter the Candidate Experience Awards and get even more insight on how to create a positive experience for your candidates.  You might even win some nice recognition.

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.

The Maturation of Web Usability – Making the Job Application Great

online application usabilityThe user experience has been the rallying cry for software success stories over the last few years. After a long time of clunky interfaces that work hard but are also difficult to use, focus on usability has been a welcome change.

Usable design involves a focus on reducing the amount of work a user has to do to use an application – reducing the number of clicks, keeping it simple, and considering the user needs above all.

However, focus on just making it easy isn’t enough – a more mature design methodology has emerged that marries functionality and a usable interface with the mission of the application.

Human Factors International has been championing this more advanced design methodology with PET design, which involves integrating persuasive engineering into software design. “We recognize that usability is no longer enough. We need to go beyond making it so that people can complete a task; we have to make sure that they will do the task, that they will convert,” says Dr. Eric Schaffer, CEO, Human Factors International.

For e-commerce sites, this may mean creating software that takes longer to use, but actually results in higher purchases. Stores put milk in the back of the store for the same reason – making the milk harder to find actually increases store sales – thus meeting their end goal.

This approach needs to be applied in the HR world to the online job application. Because the online application has been largely ignored and difficult to use for applicants, software providers are rushing to make the online application super usable in an apology to applicants.  However, the ultimate online application meshes usability with functionality, while accomplishing the end goal of the application. In this case, the need the application meets is matching the right applicant with the right job. A long, clunky process doesn’t meet that need any more than a short process that doesn’t collect necessary information. A well-designed, usable application that gives applicants the opportunity to present themselves in the best light, even if it takes a few more clicks, is a win for all. Recruiters want to maximize their resources in finding the best candidates, applicants want to showcase their skills.  A marriage between the two is the goal.

HFI quote from the white paper: “PET User Interface Structure: Much more than just another pretty interface.” Human Factors International.

Happy Applicants and myStaffingPro

As a society we don’t spend enough time celebrating a job well-done.  We are always pressing on the next goal, finding another need to fill, and rarely stop and say “good job!”.

I keep a record of positive comments about our software that have been passed on to me.  I thought I would share some of the comments that have come from applicants applying for jobs.  It’s a way to congratulate our product team on a job well done!

Check out these actual emails or support tickets from job applicants using myStaffingPro to apply:

Subject: Help
Request. Support Code: 18431592

Thank someone at your company for making your on-line application process so easy.

Subject: Help
Request. Support Code: 19374142

I wanted to commend you on an excellent site.  The application and questioning process was very simple and quick.  Thank you

Subject: Just Thank You

Your Web site is very easy to understand.  The whole process is the best by far.

Subject: Help
Request. Support Code: 28576810

Not a question or a problem!

I want to thank the individuals who are responsible for creating and maintaining the web site where I just completed an application for a _____, for the tremendous job they’re doing.

I have submitted many online applications over the last several months, but although the experience is never pleasurable, it was pleasurable indeed to have the opportunity to provide ___ with all of the information they requested in a highly readable format with as little effort as possible while also being able to provide them with additional information that I believe will be useful to them.

Your online application process is very, very much better than any other I’ve experienced. Thank you!

Subject: Help

There is no question or problem.  I just wanted to let you know that your online job application is one of the best I’ve ever filled out.  Simple and efficient.

Subject: Visitor Email via Contact Form On Marketing Site

 I just wanted to leave a comment. I was searching for a job on the ____ website and noticed it is powered by you. It is a great tool. I am very impressed. It is easy to use, it works, and, is very aesthetically pleasing. I could go on and on. Every time I am searching for a job and see powered by ____, I want to write those people and tell them their product needs alot of help. It actually annoys me while searching for a job. It’s the opposite of your product. It never works right, it is ugly, etc. I hope you can try and persuade their customers to come to you. Maybe I should be writing them also. Have a great day.

And finally, for a good laugh… one of our help desk representatives had to share this unique experience with everyone in the company!

Live chat script:

Help Desk: Hello. How may I assist you?

Applicant: hi my name is jake and i am wanting to become a country music singer. i also know i need a manager and i have no idea what to do.

Help Desk: Hi Jake, I am a technical helpdesk for the application process and I don’t think I am able to help you. But, good luck to you.