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By Nicole Spector

It’s been a few years since I was on the hunt for a job, but I can easily bring to mind how miserable the process could be. It wasn’t unusual to spend hours perfecting cover letters and modifying my resume to upload onto platforms, only to have the whole application fail to load due to a glitch in the site. Then I’d have to start all over (and I almost always would). But I sucked it up and played by the company’s or recruiter’s rules because what choice did I have? The ball wasn’t in my court, it was in theirs, and at the time (circa 2014) the U.S was still picking its feet up from the great recession and there wasn’t exactly a plethora of decent jobs available. But the tables have turned. In a tight labor market with a historically low unemployment rate, today’s job seekers aren’t wasting their time on organizations that don’t show them respect in the hiring process.

Candidates will dump a company if its hiring process is subpar

In its latest research, The Candidate Experience Report, iCIMS, a recruiting software provider, found that almost all job seekers (95 percent of those consulted) agree that how a prospective employer treats them as a candidate is a reflection of how they would treat them as an employee. The survey also found that 67 percent of employed American adults would decide whether or not to take a job based on the application, interview or offer process.

And so the pressure is on companies not only to put their best foot forward at the start of hiring talks, but right off the bat with their application processes.

A glitchy application site says you don’t value potential employees’ time

“When candidates get to company site to apply for a job and the technology is terrible, more than 50 percent of them will [abandon the process],” says Susan Vitale, CMO with iCIMS. “Companies may spend a fortune on recruiting efforts and then lose because a candidate’s resume doesn't load right or they had to answer the same question 25 times because of a bug in the site.”

Joseph Sherman, a 37-year-old project adviser at a marketing and advertising firm who says that he’s left job applications because of technical bugs in the site, finds that these glitches aren’t just annoying — they’re signs that a company doesn’t have its priorities straight.

“Sites crashing because the server is overloaded, a page that only works using a specific web browser and archaic programming [are] red flags,” says Sherman. “Ease of application says a lot about how a company values its potential employees’ time. It also shows the direction of the company. Are they going to lead their industry, or fall behind as a late adopter of technology? Who wants to work for a company that is lagging behind?”

Forget emailing, texting is the better way to quickly connect

Most online hiring plans occur via email, but when it comes to scheduling interviews, managers may want to switch to text. iCIMS’ survey found that when it comes to scheduling interviews, text messaging is preferred (57 percent) over the standard email arrangements.

“Communicate with candidates the way they want to be communicated with,” says Vitale. “For many that's text messaging. A lot of these employee candidates aren't behind a desk a day — especially if they’re in construction or healthcare — so texting is a lot more effective.”

iCIMS’ survey found that when it comes to scheduling interviews, text messaging is preferred (57 percent) over the standard email arrangements.

Employers should also consider setting up an auto-text of some sort when the interview date is nearing, providing directions and any instructions.

“Candidates want to get reminders about job interviews just as they do with their hair or doctor appointments,” says Vitale. “Something like ‘Hi, you’re scheduled to meet with these three people today. Here’s a link to directions and parking information.’ There’s a huge rise of interest here.”

Most importantly, show the applicant you care, even if that means rejecting them

iCIMS’ survey found that 76 percent of people say that not hearing back from an employer after applying for a job is more frustrating than not hearing back from someone after a first date.

“It takes only a second to say: 'Hey, we got your resume and want to thank you for applying,” says Laura Handrick, career analyst at Fit Small Business, adding that text messaging is ideal for this. “By [responding], you open a communication channel with the applicant and set your employment brand apart as a company that is responsive and engages with people instead of hiding behind ‘a process.’”

Responding can also help your company garner a positive reputation — and avoid some ugly ramifications.

“People are two-thirds less likely to be a consumer of a brand if they have a negative experience on the hiring side,” says Vitale. “Leaders need to pay attention and treat the candidates with the respect they deserve.”


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