What Job Seekers Really Want — The Answers May Surprise You

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What do you think of when you hear the following words: waiting, hearing, answering, responding, feedback, status?

No, I’m not describing the emotions of your wine-induced Friday night, sitting by the phone, waiting for that call back from your newest crush. These words represent the range of emotions job seekers shared with us on a recent survey we conducted describing the process of how employers interact with them in their job search.

In a survey completed by roughly 500 applicants (491 to be exact), we asked them to describe the one element in their current job search that they wish employers would improve in their hiring process. And looking at the most frequently used words I mentioned above in their answers, all signs from the responses centered around a lack of meaningful communication between the job applicant and the hiring employer and a majority of the responses pointed to three very specific points:

#1: “So, what do you think of me?”

Many job seekers expressed a desire for employers to help them understand where they stood in the application process — good or bad. Did you get their resume? Did you look at their resume? Are they in the “call back” pile or the “no chance” pile. They are looking for some receipt and acknowledgment of their application in any way shape or form. Here is just a sampling of specific responses to the survey:

“I know my resume is probably on a pile with thousands of others, but sometimes the lack of feedback, positive or negative, is a time-intensive process that creates more stress when looking for and finding a job; which, in itself, is a stressful experience.”

“More responsiveness — either one way or the other. The ‘black hole’ of submitting through a portal feels dehumanizing.”

“The lack of human interaction is a bit jarring, and I find it really discouraging when the person hiring is unable to send emails to candidates personally, rejection or otherwise.”

“I wish there was better follow-up. Some companies are great, but most are terrible.”

Look at the way they use the words “dehumanizing,” “stressful,” “discouraging.” According to these respondents, if you want to get a leg up on your competition in securing top talent, I would suggest making feedback to all candidates a priority. No, it’s not easy; but you would be surprised how far HR software for businesses of all sizes has come along to help this process. As a company, we receive anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 applications a month, and we promise some level of feedback to every single respondent that applies — good or bad.

#2: “We’re humans still, right?”

For another large group of folks, there was a thirst for the application process to be far more personal. Many felt most application processes felt cold and removed:

“More personal questions that better reflect character and worth ethic.”

“I would make the process more personal. While technical skills and experience are important, so is potential compatibility with company culture. I think this is an important factor in determining the success of the employer-employee relationship, but is often diluted or non-existent in the traditional application process.”

“To make it more casual/personal rather than a professional resume submission. There’s so much more to me (and thousands of other applicants) than what must be condensed to a one-page synopsis.”

“Actual, personalized human contact from HR (email, phone) to make the process more personal and humane.”

“The ability to show one’s character and creativity a bit further than simply in a resume.”

You’ll notice a theme here — words like “humane,” “character,” and “relationship.” While back-end automation has done wonders for employers being able to sort through resumes, it has stomped all over the humanity of getting to know, understand, and interact with people. People want to be treated like people — not data inputs in the making. For us, it’s a constant balance of leveraging technology and automation and building real connections with applicants.

#3: “Didn’t I just give you this information?”

And finally, there were a large number of respondents that simply pointed out the massive redundancies that exist in many online application processes:

“Make the entire process less arduous; I feel like a lot of employers that require you to list your employment history is unnecessary when it is already on your resume.”

“Having to re-input the same information that is on my resume.”

“Having to write out your work experience twice, even after uploading a resume.”

“The duplicative data entry.”

“Redundancy in listing items already listed on my uploaded resume.”

The reality is that these job seekers have every right to be frustrated because they are right. The application process for most employers isn’t designed to be most efficient for the applicant; it’s designed to be most useful for the employer. It’s designed to collect data in ways that match the needs of the technology infrastructure of the hiring team. I would encourage anyone reading this to apply for a job at your own company — put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker. Go through the process from start to finish. I promise you’ll find it enlightening.

I think we’ve made a lot of great strides at our company in improving our application process, but we still have a way to go. Our whole business — like most businesses — lives and dies by the talent that chooses to work with us, so it’s a topic we remain laser-focused on.

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