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What candidates want most from your application process

Janet Sun | April 26, 2013

Most employers aren't super concerned with how their candidates feel about the application process. It's relatively low on their list of things in need of immediate attention, and as a result, a lot of potentially awesome new hires are left behind. If you're looking hire graduates or recruit the best students for internships, you'll want to put more time and effort into streamlining your candidacy process. While applicants shouldn't be demanding things of your company or your HR team, a little care and attention can go a long way. Consider improving your recruitment pipeline by keeping these points in mind.

Speed and efficiency
ERE.net spoke with a contract recruiter about what he termed "candidate care," and one of the first things he noted was the need for speed and efficiency in the hiring process. While many applicants use social media to help bolster a resume or ingratiate themselves within an industry, most people don't want to have to get to know multiple HR teams via Twitter before they can be even considered for a position.

Furthermore, the source points out that basic user interface for online application should be as streamlined as possible. According to ERE's contact, "It should take no more than 90 seconds to find the job I want, and no more than 90 seconds to apply to it…" While these stringent rules are a little extreme, expediting the application process can make a big difference, especially when it comes to mobile devices.

The easier the resume upload, the better your company comes off before the very first interview.

Constant updates
What's the very next thing candidates want the second after they've sent off their digital application? Immediate notification, according to the source. A simple email or text letting the candidate know that his or her resume went through. Furthermore, regular updates are a must for companies seriously courting workers for premium entry level jobs.

One of the most common mistakes companies make when recruiting isn't taking too long, but simply not keeping potential new hires in the loop. Within a few days, you should get back to candidates about reviewing their application and either tell them "no thanks" or set up the next stage of the process.

Furthermore, candidates are going to want to be constantly updated on what that next stage in the process requires. For instance, if it's a phone interview, does that mean webcam or actual telephone? What will be expected of them? What materials will they require on hand?

Finally, ERE notes that what candidates really want – and probably won't get – is the ability to track continuing status online. This is a bit of a pipe​ dream, but the source indicates that toll-free number offering access to a candidate care assistant could be a huge selling point for a company's application process. Perhaps applicants who didn't even get the job might suggest friends apply as well, simply because candidacy wasn't a pain.

Respect
The fact of the matter is that all applicants want respect above all else. When it comes down to it, that's what being kept in the loop is really about. Not only do possible new hires want instant gratification concerning the processing of their resume or what the next step is, they want to be shown respect by being treated like a company actually wants them.

The source notes that in an ideal situation, applicants should be made to feel like important guests, especially during the interview process. That means complete preparation on the part of the interviewer, no more filling out of applications that could easily have been taken care of online and an active attempt by the recruiter to sell both the position and the company itself.

What recruiters can realistically do
A job candidate hotline or real-time application review updates may be a little much for pretty much any company. After all, recruiters want respect too, and a large part of that is the recognition that they're the ones offering the jobs to begin with! But there's still things that your HR department can do to ease the candidacy process.

A story on Dice focuses on keeping candidates happy in the tech sector, but the industry-specific nature of the story makes it ideal for just about any other. Whether in advertising, healthcare or education, the source's first point for recruiters is a great piece of advice: know the requirements. If the person doing the hiring actually understands the requirements of a position, he or she can better respect and better judge the applicant, which allows for true hiring efficiency.

The sources other points apply across industries as well. Recruiters shouldn't be afraid to be friendly with applicants and get to know them over the course of the candidacy process. They should also consciously avoid overwhelming themselves with too large a pool of applicants. By stuffing too many interviews into one day, recruiters are doing candidates and themselves a disservice.

Category: Employers

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