Saturday, December 02, 2006

Helping applicants help themselves

helping each other up a mountain

Most organizations do a passable job at conducting interviews and administering other types of tests (let's be optimistic).

They also do an acceptable job of recruiting, although there is great room for improvement, particularly in the public sector.

But one area that nearly all organizations could improve in is job-person matching--specifically, helping applicants figure out which jobs to apply for.

In a recent article on ERE Charles Handler writes about using quality assessment methods to help applicants figure out what job would be a good fit.

Imagine going to an organization's career site and being offered two options:

1 - Know what job you want? Click HERE to apply for a specific position.

2 - Not sure what job you want? Click HERE to find out what jobs might match your interests and abilities.

After selecting option 2 (and being amazed that a career website is so easy to use) the applicant is taken to another page where they're given two more options:

1 - Know your abilities and interest? Use THIS simple checklist to describe yourself.

2 - Want more information about your skill levels? Click HERE to take a variety of assessments to help you describe yourself.

And so on. The information that comes out of the self-assessment is used by the applicant to complete an easy-to-use inventory of their skills. This information is then used by the system in several ways. The first is by recruiters, who can pull up lists of individuals who meet position requirements.

But the more empowering use of the data comes when the system spits back a list of jobs that the candidate most likely would qualify for (organized into logical categories). It also tells the applicant how to proceed--how to find out which jobs are currently open and how to apply for jobs that aren't.

The beauty of the system is that it's entirely automated, the site is very sticky, and people aren't just slogging their way through an enormous job application.

Let's compare that to the candidate experience at most websites today:

1) You have to find the career link. Most of the time this is easy, but often the link is tucked away at the bottom--almost like the organization doesn't want you applying in the first place.

2) You have to navigate a dizzying array of options while your eyes try to process a multitude of links (the fact that Google's lesson in simplicity hasn't been adopted by more organizations is truly mind boggling).

3) You have to figure out which category of job you're looking for--from a large list of sometimes duplicative titles.

4) You have to figure out what specific job title you want--if you can even find the listing of job titles to begin with (hint: put the classification link at the top of the page!).

And you're not even to the application phase yet, which these days usually means about an hour spent navigating an ATS product that was designed by folks with zero training in human factors.

For many organizations, it's time to go back to square one: what should our application experience feel like, and how can we help applicants help themselves?

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