This Might Make You Reconsider Your Application Process

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 lady taking a decision with scale above her headIt all stems from this little quote from Forbes contributor Liz Ryan, “Before you automated a process, every business analyst and programmer told us, it had to be a sensible process on its own.” It makes complete sense doesn’t it? Ryan wrote a pretty eye-opening piece on the root of a lot of recruiters’ issues with everything-automation, called “How Technology Killed Recruiting.”

Here’s the breakdown of that piece and why I couldn’t agree with Ryan more:

First things first, recruiters need to knock it off with the redundant, irrelevant fields and questions. The example that Ryan used was from a friend who was applying for a school principal position. After establishing the desired position on the form as principal, she got down to standard field of “Tasks and Responsibilities.”

This candidate is definitely not alone in her feelings that this field is just plain stupid. Anyone recruiting for a principal position probably ought to know the tasks and responsibilities of a principal. Great, now that we have established that we both know the definition of a principal, we can get on with the rest of the application.

Ryan contends that instead of asking obvious questions, recruiters should start soliciting information that is actually informative. What a novel idea! Recruiters should instead ask specific questions that could reveal what the candidate accomplished in their time in that position.

ATSs are doing a swell job at the weeding out part…the key problem here is that an applicant tracking system does a great job at picking out key words, tools, and numbers, but they’re actually pretty crumby at deciphering what an employee has accomplished, the legacy that they may have left, or the knowledge they have gained on their professional journey. How about we add just one field to the existing 74 that asks a question about one of those things? Ryan said,

Our selection mechanism is stuck in 1940, interested only in the tasks and duties and tools you used, as though those things out of context could have any significance to your next boss at all.

The emphasis needs to move away from weeding out the bad, to attracting the good.

A lot of recruiters went with an ATS, because it was an ATS. There are some great systems out there for both front- and back-end users. The new standard in the application process is around 5-10 minutes. With the advent of the “Apply with LinkedIn” button, that time frame is getting even smaller. Sad to say, that standard is not so standard.

All recruiters have the same end game: get great talent and keep great talent. Very often, the software and systems they use say quite the opposite. Ryan points out an all too often shortcoming of a lot of talent management software out there today:

And what says “We love you!” more than forty pages of fields that must be filled in, boxes to check, and mind-numbing tedium just to fill out a job application?

So you’ve probably gotten to this point, thrown a finger in the air and said, “Well what’s the solution to getting through more resumes and applicants than anyone could possibly get through on their own?!” Yeah, Ryan’s got that covered, but it might not be what you wanted to hear. It seems recruiters have gotten great at casting a wider net, but they’re kind of flailing when it comes to the targeted marketing of positions.

“We can market to talent as thoughtfully and narrowly as we market to customers. Marketers learn in a flash that when you market to the wrong people, it costs your company money in the qualification process.” Ryan said, “It doesn’t work differently in recruiting.”

To call the standard recruiting practices that are in place now, antiquated would somewhat imply that they were ever truly effective, which does not appear to be the case. A shift of focus from scaring away the riff-raff, to welcoming and enticing the relevant candidates, is what recruiters and their software need.

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Courtney McGann is the content creator and PR gal for Red Branch Media, an Omaha-based marketing firm. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B marketing agency, primarily focused on human resources and global workforce vendors. In the past Courtney has managed online communities, professional social outlets, marketing campaigns and event planning.