This is going to be my first in a series of posts about the online candidate experience. Consider it food for thought for those employees at companies who oversee recruitment marketing, employment brand and generally own the “candidate experience.” Before diving in, let me give you some context.
Upon completing graduate school in 1996, my job search started with well formatted paper resume and nicely written cover letters delivered via snail mail to at least 50 employers in the metro DC area. With every passing week, I was fighting off the looming possibility moving back to Memphis, to live with family. On a whim, I decided to give the internet a try to see if I could go for gold and find a job in the San Francisco Bay Area. There was an early job site called bajobs.com with few positions of interest listing fax numbers for where to send a resume. Within the month, job in hand, I was moving. You should have heard my family upon telling them I was moving across country for a job found on the internet!
Little did I know that the .com environment of the Bay Area during that time would land me in the very world that would shape the experience I had just relied on to start my career. A year and a half after moving, I joined a company called HireSystems (later to be called BrassRing and now owned and run by Kenexa), one of the first web-based ATS solutions. As their first product manager, I helped launch a product in 2000 called Joboo that was among the first web based career site technology solutions. Winning HR Tech product of the year award, it was very cutting edge for the time, but that was 12 years ago…
Through the past 15 years as a product manager in the HR Technology space, I’ve watched, listened, learned and worried about the experience for candidates and how what we do impacts their ability to find work. I’ve also watched and read untold letters detailing candidate experience challenges and frustrations. Sometimes there are design limitations, sometimes there is user error, and sometimes there are bugs that can get in the way of a good experience. But a lot of times, the challenges are configuration related; these are the most frustrating because they are decisions that don’t have to be made. Great intentions at the outset sometimes are left to the wayside while being forced to settle for what is just good enough to call a job done.
The job that I searched and found online and applied via fax in 1996 truly changed the course of my life. The web in its simplicity allowed me that opportunity which did not exist even one year earlier, quite an amazing feat. It also helped my employer grow with the talent they were looking for, more efficiently and effectively than before. Somewhere between the fax machine and the online experience we have today, things got a lot more confusing for candidates. The goal of technology is to make the process better and more efficient, not create more friction. Where there is still friction, I’ll share some ideas in hopes that it might be of value to others and lead to somehow helping to make the experience better for candidates.
With each post, there will be a specific topic with a tangible design suggestion. For some readers, a topic may be considered mundane or in the weeds, but topics are picked because they are actionable, impact ease of use, flow and/or quality…and you can still search corporate career sites far and wide and still see it’s a problem negatively affecting the candidate experience.
The 2nd post in this series will be coming next Monday. Remember to tune back in.
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