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Over the past two weeks, I’ve been in the wonderful process of apartment hunting in the Boston area.  And while it can sometimes be a painful process in going through it I’ve noticed a number of similarities between apartment hunting and trying to find a job.

In both cases, you are concentrating on finding the right combination of fit, price (or salary) and in many cases location.  And once you find the right one, it’s one of the best moments of the year.

But as I do many times on this blog, I’d like to focus on the process and really what makes the process better.  Here are a few things that I noted in the apartment searching process that has great parallels to the recruitment marketing process:


Ad Messaging: Scouring Craiglist and other sites for apartment listings is a pain and a lot of messaging is very similar.   However, the ones that really stand out are the ones that include good pictures, accurate locations and really aim to sell the place.  In addition, the ones that include all the checklists for what you might be looking for in the ad, not only saves the renter time but in the end saves the realtor time as well.  With the rental ad, the realtor’s goal is to get a successful targeted conversion of a renter that fits places that they currently have in stock.

For recruiting, the job ad serves as the first point of contact with many of the candidates that apply for your job.  The job ad serves to educate and sell the candidate on the position.  The main goal is to convert the candidate into an applicant.  However, a good job ad also makes sure to “price-out” candidates that are currently qualified for the position in order to give recruiters less unqualified candidates they need to screen through.

Customer Service: While it’s never a necessity to have a great realtor to find a great place (my current place was found by a bad one), having a great realtor can really make the difference in how painful and/or how fun the process is.  A great realtor will drill down to understand your needs and wants and be able to help you find an apartment that fits these.  And get a lot of referrals from happy clients.

In the same way, having a great recruiter that understands the recruiting process and can set your expectations can be just as valuable.  They can help you identify the right positions in their organization and set you up to best present yourself as a candidate to hiring managers.  The better this customer service is, the more likely candidates will be telling their friends and connections about your company.

Pre-Screening after interest: One thing that I think recruiting organizations can learn from realtors is to make sure that they are collecting enough information up front to make a good screening decision without asking for everything.

For example, for apartment rentals you are typically asked your budget constraints, if you are working professionals or students (to get at income situation) and what you are looking for apartment-wise.  This is simple to communicate over the phone / email and makes it easy to create an initial relationship.  Once you find a place you then have to go through the credit checks, references and applications as part of the process.

I really feel recruiting needs to work more like this.  We need to collect enough information to make and initial decision, making it easier for candidates to apply for our jobs.  It’s after you do the initial screen of applicants that you begin to ask more information (background check, references, etc.) from applicants that will be being interviewed for the position.  This in-depth information gathering should happen later, not up front.

If you think you are losing a lot of candidates because your application process is asking for too much information, start tracking it with recruitment metrics and determine how many candidates are actually dropping out due to the application.

Summary: Lessons to be learned from realtors

All in all, recruiters could learn a few things from realtors in how they present their opportunities.  This includes improving their job ads to make sure they sell a candidate on a position (and to help it stand out from the rest of the noise), recruiters creating and cultivating candidate relationships to help them better succeed and go through the hiring process and understanding what information is crucial to have during each stage of the process to make the process easier for candidates.

All these things affect the overall candidate experience and the more you can improve them, the better the quality and flow of the candidates that will be submitting applications.


5 responses to “Apartment Hunting, Recruiting and the Candidate Experience”

  1. This is great advice. A good portion of candidates are searching for jobs for months upon months. Looking at job postings that are bland and generic can eventually all blend together, making the process tiring and boring. I like creative job postings that also offer insight on the company culture (I’m currently focusing on culture as a determining point of whether I apply or not).

    Also, I like how you mentioned the recruiter/candidate relationship building. Candidates don’t always understand how to customize their resume in a way to make it through the ATS screening. Companies could miss out on good candidates because of this. Building relationships could help recruiters find exceptional talent that may have fallen through the cracks.

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