What Job Seekers Want

Last Friday I had an opportunity to host HireFriday’s #HFchat. If you’re not familiar with HireFriday, it’s a great initiative to get people back to work led by seasoned HR pros and hosted on Twitter Every Friday from 12-1 pm ET. Each week a different host presents a topic and 5-6 questions to spark discussion around it. Participants range from active job seekers to recruiters and everywhere in between. My topic, abstract and question are below:

What if job seekers ran the recruiting process?
Premise: active job seekers are now running recruiting. What would their process look like? What would change? How would they re-define the process?

  • Q1 What would you include in a job description to entice the best person to apply?
  • Q2 You have 500 applications for 1 job. How do you decide who gets interviewed?
  • Q3 What’s the best way to tell the other 499 that they didn’t get the job?
  • Q4 How do you handle a candidate who regularly applies to your jobs but is not right for any of them?
  • Q5 What is your strategy for engaging potential job seekers using social media?
  • Q6 You’re asked by the CEO, “How would you improve our recruiting process”? Well?

There was good dialog around all of the questions, and I think some valuable insights to gain for myself and other recruiters. Below are some of the key points I took away from the chat.

  • Job Descriptions: Job seekers have grown tired of the lifeless laundry list job descriptions that have become all too prevalent in today’s recruiting process. I agree completely and have written about it for SHRM. Job seekers want to know what success looks like for a given job. They want the personality and culture of the organization to come through the text (bonus points if it captures the spirit of the hiring manager). They want salary and benefit details. They’re also ready for video job descriptions. [whether recruiting is ready remains to be seen, but the appetite is there]
  • Communication: I expected this would likely be the biggest pain point for job seekers, and the discussion around this topic validated that. Candidates are frustrated. Black hole syndrome is very really, and it’s costing you hires. Jobseekers shared story after story of recruiters dropping the ball and not contacting them back, even after in-person interviews. Recruiting is often a numbers game and the harsh reality is the vast majority of applicants for a given job will be rejected. Job seekers understand this, they just want to know where they stand. Recruiters need to set expectations and follow through on what they promise. Whether we use auto-responses with FAQs, or personally call applicants – they just want to know where they stand. We owe them that. 
  • Social Media: Job seekers see social media a valuable tool to learn more about an organization’s people and culture. They use social media to research companies and contacts. They like social media accounts that are engaging, interesting, and are more than extensions of a job board sending out nothing but jobs. Social Media is becoming an expectation, so if your organization muzzles and/or strictly regulates your employee’s use so social media – it may be costing you hires.

As a recruiter there were some valuable takeaways for me. There are internal complexities that make some of the suggestion not possible (i.e. sharing comp on job descriptions), but there were many suggestions recruiters should take note of. 

My final thought here is a reminder that all recruiters and recruiting leaders have sat in the job seeker seat at some point in their own careers. The best recruiting leaders have built internal processes that mirrored that best experience they had in their job searches, and work tirelessly to improve areas where they’ve experienced shortcomings firsthand.

8 thoughts on “What Job Seekers Want

  1. Lars,

    Great post and points. You and I have talked about this before. There’s a silent battle brewing (and in some places, the skirmishes have already begun) between “compliance-minded” recruiting operations and forward-thinking employment marketing strategy. Luckily, there’s guys like you bringing these questions to the fore, engaging with real candidates, and allowing candid discussions. Recruiters, recruiting departments, and organizations themselves need to start thinking of candidates and customers and of the organization as a product/service. It’s time to flip the script.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    • Bo – Thanks for your feedback. I agree, there seems to be two camps that really fall into the ‘old school’ vs. ‘new school’ approach to what HR means, and how we can add the most value to our organizations and employees. There will always be a compliance component – but pragmatism, decency, and respect should be our primary drivers. The black hole syndrome and communication issues are some of the easier things for recruiters to fix, they just need to make it a priority and a foundation in their process. Sadly most don’t, but the ones that do have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and stand out as employers of choice.

  2. First, it was wonderful that you agreed to do this kind of chat with these kinds of questions; I’m going to use an overused word but when one of the profession’s leading heads puts themselves out in the public to address the real salient issues, it is something to be lauded. I sure hope Gary, Jeff and Joyce have the opportunity to read the stream and it’s summaries (like this).

    ***I believe HR is to blame for bad job descriptions – SHRM in particular (there, I wrote it). For certain, most people aren’t aware that job descriptions are created to grade a job – to define the compensation for the role. But it creates an inherently hideous recruiting document and as a result, WAY TOO MANY recruiters have grown up recruiting with the incorrect description. For me – and we’ve all discussed this ad infinitum – we hire people to either solve problems (such as penetrating new markets as part of a plan to increase sales by 8% over the next 2Qs) or to be involved in specific situations (such as working a Heidelberg Press with a defined fpm flow). How great would it be for hiring manger to describe the problems to be solved or describe a typical situation?

    Benefits? Normally I’d say “stick with the standard career page description of bennies” but with the possibility of ObamaCare hitting full force, I’d still stick with the standard career page description but actually spell out the actual costs – might actually “benefit” the company if others can help them reduce costs, improve services.

    Culture? Tough to describe since so many companies say the same thing. Culture is a body of work over time; it is don’t tell me, show me.

    ***Communication is a funny thing because it goes both ways. I will not apologize for companies not apprising candidates about their status – like every recruiter, I’ve been guilty a few time and the only way I’ve ever found to remedy these situations is to offer a hearty ‘mea culpa’ and the promise to help the aggrieved party in their job search. Autoresponders are easy; so are “Thanks but no thanks” comms when the people aren’t selected. Many of my recruiting brethren would like to give everyone the real reasons they weren’t selected but these reasons run the gamut from “you really smelled” to “you kept invading the manager’s person space” to “yeah you were good but the person we selected was better” and all things in between. The challenge in a society that is both litigious and one where tools make it easy to “stalk” is that we never know how a “bad” outcome will be taken. By no means is this an excuse but job seekers need to take a more laid back approach to feedback, perhaps sending (and I’ve received things like this) a “note” that says, “I know I wasn’t selected but if you can offer me any specific areas of improvement that would have made me a more viable candidate, I sure would appreciate the information. Also please feel free to send me job openings in others areas – if I know of people whom I believe are a fit, I’ll send them your way” then you might (and I say might) just get the feedback you want.

    ***I just don’t believe that social media is the means to an end. Job seekers shouldn’t expect that by hopping on to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et. al. when you need a job is a panacea for not spending time cultivating your professional network while working. Go to meeting, shake hands, talk about stuff, etc. that augment your SoMe activity so when you get a whiff of pink slips coming to your workplace you can get busy…

    In my dreams, I see CEOs assessed on talent metrics. Are we there yet?

  3. Lars, thanks so much for hosting #HFChat last week. The topic was so compelling, and I thank you for allowing us to repost this to our website. Everything you said about job descriptions, communication, and social media is true. I hope our entire HFChat and HireFriday community takes the time to read your post, contemplate, and make changes to their strategy.

    Great post, and thanks for being our friend.


    Margo Rose, M.Ed., HRD
    Founder of HireFriday & HFChat

  4. Pingback: Recruiting Firms or Applying Online – Which is Better?

  5. Pingback: The prisoners are running the prison! « Hiring Karma

  6. Pingback: What Do Job Seekers Really Need From HR?

  7. Pingback: What Do Job Seekers Really Need From HR? - Jobbook News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s