CandidateExperience[tweetmeme source= ‘@smashfly’ only_single=false]

(This is the fifth post in a series on the Candidate Experience and Career Site Design by Mary Grace Hennessy. You can view posts one, two, three and four here.)

In my last post, I discussed the benefits of building a Talent Network and the importance of ensuring that this process is clean and has negligible impact on overall applicant flow.  If you are a company who has already implemented a Talent Network or are planning to do so in the near future, this post is meant to provide tips to help ensure the approach does not negatively affect your applicant flow.


The Username/Password Dilemma

The first point for simplification is so important that I’ll highlight it first.  It’s critical: do NOT require a username & password for the candidate to drop off their business card information for your Talent Network – I cannot overstate this.  As I discussed in a previous post in this thread, the prompting of username and password for a user results in 30% drop off in the ATS. If your Talent Network form does this too, you are inviting this same drop off scenario before they even get to your registration page in the ATS.  This far increases the likelihood of negatively impacting applicant flow.  This is the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong with this approach.  It will also completely befuddle your prospective applicants.  Even if you try to make the password “transparent” as I’ve seen in some implementations, the results are not good.   Consider the scenario below:

Scenario A:

  1. Sally sees job of interest and chooses to apply
  2. Sally completes Talent Network opt in form
  3. Sally’s username and password are created
  4. Sally proceeds to job description page on ATS
  5. Sally clicks again to apply from ATS job description page
  6. Sally is presented with prompt to log in /register
  7. Sally gets confused – I saw that an account was created but now I need it to get into this system and apply….what to do???

The dilemma for Sally in this scenario, if she’s made it this far, is that she will think that she already has a username and password.  There is confusion as to why there is a need to log in again.  Perhaps Sally is now going to try to use the ATS password retrieval process to retrieve a password that does not yet exist.  Or perhaps she will go back to the prior pages in the flow to see what she really did there and find out what password she created.  There are numerous things OTHER than creating a profile and applying that Sally might opt to do.  Many of those options will lead Sally to be even more confused than she already is.   As crazy as this may sound, this scenario is the reality of many well name brands’ corporate career site today.  Let’s add another wrinkle to it:

Scenario B:

  1. Sally sees job of interest and chooses to apply
  2. Sally completes Talent Network opt in form
  3. Sally’s username and password are created
  4. Sally is presented with browser incompatibility error
  5. Sally opens new browser and goes back to the job description and chooses again to apply
  6. Sally fills out talent network form again and clicks to continue
  7. Sally is told that her account already exists
  8. Sally will need to know to use password retrieval here just to get past this hurdle to get to the ATS apply flow – other options for her here are to bail (very likely) or create an alternate profile with a different email address
  9. Sally proceeds to job description page on ATS
  10. Sally clicks again to apply from ATS job description page
  11. Sally is presented with prompt to log in /register to complete the ATS apply flow

If she has stuck with it, Sally is now armed with her password and will now get utterly confused and frustrated with the fact that her retrieved and confirmed username and password do not work for the ATS apply flow.  Given that it took her 11 steps just to get here, what would you do if you were Sally?  Does that make Sally unqualified?

This double hop through two registration cycles makes no sense to the candidate audience.  They do not understand what is happening behind the scenes, and there are many possible valid scenarios a person might go down that don’t result in a completed job application.


Getting to the best case scenario

And now to the best case scenario:

Scenario C

  1. Sally sees job of interest and chooses to apply
  2. Sally completes Talent Network opt in form
  3. Sally is presented with prompt to log in /register to complete the ATS apply flow, with data pre-populated that has already been provided via the opt in flow

If you are implementing a Talent Network opt-in process, this is the ideal flow.  I’m going to dissect how you get down to this level of simplicity allowing the elimination of steps 3 – 10 in Scenario B above.

Eliminating step 3: This one is simple, do not require or create a username and password on behalf of the candidate as part of the opt in process.

Eliminating step 4: Make sure that there is browser consistency between your ATS solution and your front end candidate experience.  Do not let candidates get started on a process they are technically incapable of finishing.

Eliminating steps 5 – 8: These steps are erased if you have already done the work to eliminate steps 3 and 4, as these steps are a byproduct of the situation these steps have created.

Eliminating steps 9 and 10:  These two steps are tricky but depending on the ATS there are options that can allow you to eliminate these steps taking the user directly into the registration page of the job apply flow.  I’ve seen this done different a few different ways.  You should contact your ATS provider or recruitment marketing technology provider and ask them for specifics regarding URL construction that can send the user directly to the registration page of the job apply flow.  I’ve seen some where the right parameters for the career site and job id just need to be properly inserted.  I’ve also seen other instances where the client has javascript on the career site page that launches web automation on these pages.  This works such that the pages knows when to automatically advance through the job description page and apply click to land on the registration page.  In short, research your situation with the technology you have, and determine what is possible.

Simplifying Step 11: In the last step of the simplified flow, I reference the concept of being able to pre-populate the registration and apply flow with data already provided in Step 2.  This is technically simple to do via form post call to store the data in the page and populate it when the related field is prompted…with one major caveat.  It’s 100% controlled by the willingness and capabilities of your ATS provider.  To date, I’m not aware of any ATS solution that supports the ability to receive this type of form post to pre-populate apply flow data.   If someone knows otherwise, please correct me!  But at this point in time, I do not think this option exists.  I hope it will someday soon.  It requires a level of partnership or at least an API spec that can be conformed to to coordinate the sending and accepting of this form post.


Improving the Candidate Experience through Smart screening

When aiming to improve the Candidate Experience in the apply process, it’s important to focus on smart and intentional screening methods .  The fewer the steps have, the fewer the opportunities for candidates to drop off of the process.  A candidate not passing an internationally designed screening hurdle is one thing.  But a candidate dropping because you have validly confused them is an unjustified random screen that can just as easily screen out qualified talent.   This is what you want to avoid.  When quality comes to your door, let him/her in gracefully.

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