What Do Job Seekers Really Need From HR?

Between 2012 and 2013, the average applicant volume per position nearly doubled according to a survey by the Talent Board.

One might think the higher volume of applicants would mean a higher volume of unqualified candidates, but that is not always the case.

As medical sales recruiter and career consultant Linda Hertz explains, “The main issue is that the job market and the way we find candidates has changed since 2008, so recruiters are looking at a different pool of candidates, who have taken it up a notch so to speak.”

5 things to improve the candidate experience

You now not only have more qualified candidates to vet, but you also need to worry about leaving a good impression on everyone — even if they don’t end up getting hired. After all, they may be a good candidate for something else.

Therein lies a question not many professionals ask themselves, “What do job seekers really need and how can I deliver it?”

Here are five things you should do to improve the candidate experience, attract more desirable candidates, and improve your company brand:

1. Define success for the role

As Lars Schmidt of Amplify Talent explains, just as your standards for resumes have gone up, so too have expectations for job descriptions. Instead of the standard laundry list job descriptions, provide job seekers with an understanding of what success looks like for a given job.

Let the personality and culture of the organization come through in the content and, if possible, share salary and benefit details. Explain why the job is open in the first place and give them a clear picture of what their days will be like in that role.

You might also consider video job descriptions. This concept hasn’t been fully accepted yet, but job seekers are hungry for a more interactive and engaging job search experience — and a video can deliver that.

2. Step up communication

As you know that the “black hole” of communication is a challenge for job seekers and can cost you great hires.

The good news is that organizations are starting to catch on: In 2012, 58 percent of companies surveyed by Talent Board did not require recruiters to provide feedback or communicate updates with job seekers. That number was drastically reduced to 16 percent in 2013 and almost 50 percent actually required some form of communication in 2013.

Whether you use automated emails, a standard script phone call, or personalized conversations providing details, any communication is better than nothing. And once you know that a candidate was not chosen for a position, tell them immediately. This will allow everyone to simply move on.

3. Provide honest feedback

Although there are a lot of stipulations and concerns when it comes to providing candidate feedback, if you can offer it, do it. You are not expected to critique every resume that comes through, but for the top candidates that make it to the final round of interviews, or those that take the time to personally follow-up with you, it’s very helpful to them and reflects positively on you and the company.

Although there are currently no sure-fire solutions to help you avoid potential legal implications, here are a few ideas to provide feedback:

  • Call-backs to everyone: Require your team to call all candidates and let them know they weren’t chosen for the position. This will give job seekers the chance to ask questions and get more information. Plus, even rejected candidates will leave thinking they still want to work for your company based on the positive experience.
  • Personalized critiques: Offer final round candidates who were not hired a brief personal critique; allow them the chance to ask questions and listen to feedback. But be aware of the potential mixed reaction your constructive criticism could receive from each candidate — when candidates are already in a vulnerable position, these conversations tend to become even more difficult.
  • Keyword matching revealed: If you use a resume screener that matches keywords between your job description and resumes, think about sharing the keyword match score with the candidate. Many fear this will generate additional questions from applicants or reveal too much about the keyword-matching process. But if they see they received a 30 out of a possible 100, it will be obvious to them they weren’t a close match.

4. Help them prepare for the interview

When a job seeker gets the opportunity for a call or in-person interview, take a few minutes to help them prepare.

Walk through the setup of the interview and share the types of questions they should prepare for. Let them know of any small things to be mindful of during the interview and allow them some time to ask you any questions they have.

This will not only help them feel more prepared and confident, but it will make you look better bringing in such strong candidates.

5. Maintain engaging, informative social media

As we begin to see more tech-savvy individuals entering the workforce, you cannot underestimate the power of social media.

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For job seekers, this is a valuable tool that allows them to learn about an organization’s people and culture. They can also determine if they have a contact within the organization, see how they measure up to the current employees, and even find out more about you and anyone else involved in the hiring process.

Companies with sporadic or deserted social media channels can be a huge turn-off for a potentially strong candidate. They want to see accounts that are engaging, interesting, and tell them more than what’s included in the job posting. If your organization has strict policies around social media use and has fairly dry social media channels, it could potentially cost you great hires.

Everyone wants to be treated with respect throughout the sometimes grueling job search process. Maintaining communication, being honest, and showing your company culture in creative ways will help you recruit strong candidates and keep them coming back.

If you put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes every once in a while, it can help you become more intuitive and identify more effective recruiting efforts.

What do you think? What else do job seekers need from HR?