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In a space defined by employer brands, social recruiting, and feel-good company cultures, compliance and legal are often an afterthought. I can’t say it’s surprising.

After all, we’re trying to attract talent, and what’s more enticing: a multichannel social campaign aimed at recent graduates, or legal jargon that most applicants hardly skim? Although the former may seem like the clear place to invest time and effort, ignoring the latter could greatly disrupt your candidate experience.

Case in point: a good friend, Tim, was recently searching for a new position as an IT Program Manager. Knowing the business that I’m in—the wonderful world of Contracts (yes, the team responsible for those pesky Terms & Conditions (T’s & C’s) at the end of every job application), we spent a number of hours and IPAs (the beer—I won’t throw TOO many legal acronyms your way) discussing the current state of online job searches and applications. We never used a single acronym in any of these chats—the use of a CRM, ATS, or any other RM function was never broached. Instead, we talked about T’s & C’s.

Tim highlighted something most readers of this blog probably know, but may discount: if a company’s online application process involves unusually cumbersome legal terms (OFCCP compliance, privacy, etc.), “accepted” through an equally inartful series of steps, the candidate may move on to the next suitor. Surprisingly, legal terms on career sites vary greatly between companies. You might be thinking, as I did, “How many different ways can you ask someone if they’re a veteran or a member of a certain socio-economic group?” But the answer, and the presentation of those T’s & C’s, may surprise you. 

 

The Cost of Complicated 

To ensure that I wasn’t being unduly influenced by Tim alone, I checked with several other friends and relatives who had recently applied for new positions. (Side note: Tim is a New York Yankees fan and was suffering from some acute Brooklyn “agita” at the end of their playoff run—was it possible he was being cranky and impatient because of this?)

Everyone I talked to echoed Tim’s views: if the application process was legalistic and convoluted, there was great temptation to move on to the next opportunity, at a different organization, and MANY succumbed to that temptation. If your company is part of that “we can’t do anything about the compliance stage of the process” group, this means that you may likely miss out on a fantastic new team member (that competition is now enjoying).

I also wondered if there was any correlation between tech firms and ease of process; one would assume that tech firms have slick application portals and lighter T’s & C’s. Unfortunately, no such correlation existed with my circle of friends and cousins. Some of the most storied blue-chip companies had the easiest, most intuitive processes, and several IT companies had “Apply Now” Terms and Conditions rivaling the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 

The Road to Simplicity

Adopting the “lighter is better” mantra with contractual T’s & C’s is easier said than done. In fact, it’s something we are constantly working towards at SmashFly. Our standard Application Services Agreement is a reasonable 7 pages (plus SLA), and our small order form is a mere pamphlet of 2 pages. We don’t use any Latin at all (apologies to the venerable Dr. Harriet Stone of the Warwick, RI School System!), and this year rolled out a streamlined, stand-alone Service Order for even easier processing.

So, take it from someone who lives this stuff every day: If you’re going to tout “customer-friendly service” and a focus on the candidate experience, it must extend to your company’s T’s & C’s. If the “customer” in talent acquisition is the applicant, then it’s your job to present them with stellar service, in this case, clear and succinct T’s & C’s. When in doubt, keep this rule of thumb in mind: full OFCCP compliance, and a light, clear “legal terms” section of an online application page are not mutually exclusive.

Your candidates will thank you for it—and will likely stay in your hiring process.

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