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    Thursday
    Jul162009

    Why is it so hard to apply?

    I was not planning to write another post on online application processes and Applicant Tracking Systems, but yesterday a post by Laurie Ruettimann at PunkRockHR (and the ensuing comments) on applicant frustration with online corporate application processes I thought calls for a more lengthy comment than I cared to place on PunkRockHR.

    Besides, I did not want to cloud up the lively debate going on about which place was worse to work for Taco Bell or Del Taco. Flickr - Majiscup - Drink for Design

    The gist of the issue is candidate frustration with the tedious online application processes of most companies, and the fact that in a wide-ranging job search, the job-seeker is frustrated entering more or less the same information over and over again (in slightly different formats) on numerous corporate job sites.

    Laurie expressed the desire for a sort of 'universal candidate profile' that job-seekers could set up once, and leverage throughout most online application processes, perhaps using Facebook Connect or LinkedIn in some fashion for authentication.

    It is a great concept, and I'd like to offer a few reasons why a 'universal profile' does not yet exist. By the way, I do know about ResumePal, which does appear to have most of the features that were discussed, but has not really gained much headway in the market.

    Barriers to the Universal Candidate Profile

    1. It already exists, it's called LinkedIn

    LinkedIn has about 21 Million US based profiles. How could a new 'Universal Profile' platform get very far competing with what LinkedIn already offers job seekers.  Free access, ability to connect with thousands of recruiters and HR professionals, (the Boolean Black Belt says 5% of all US profiles are recruiters or HR), networking with affinity groups, and lots of job opportunities listed throughout. Every recruiter I know uses LinkedIn to source and research candidates.  I am not saying LinkedIn is perfect, or even easy for a less tech-savvy candidate to navigate, but it has enormous size and influence certainly scaring off potential competitors. 

    LinkedIn certainly has the muscle to get behind initiatives to build out its profile to support more of the concepts of the Universal Profile, but that may not really be in their strategic plans.  One commented on the PunkRockHR post correctly pointed out the ATS vendor JobVite does allow candidates to include their LinkedIn profile on their job application, but that is only a benefit if you are lucky enought to be applying for a job with a JobVite customer. And, the company still will typically require a resume, cover letter and other fields above and beyond the LinkedIn profile.

    2. Attracting enough candidates to a new Universal Profile

    Face it we are all pretty much overwhelmed with online accounts, networks, user names and passwords. Without an incredibly compelling argument, (one click to find a job listing, two clicks to apply to any company), a new Universal Profile System is going to have major problems attracting enough candidates to survive. No candidate will want to invest much time and energy creating and maintaining another online profile without a realistic expectation of some unique benefits.

    3. Integration with corporate Applicant Tracking Systems

    This may be the single largest barrier to widespread adoption of a Universal Candidate Profile.  There may be 150 - 200 different ATS on the market.  Granted, the Fortune 1000 probably cluster around the largest 10 or so vendors (Taleo, PeopleSoft, SAP, Kenexa, Oracle, etc.), but realistically a small percentage of job seekers target only super large firms.  As Meg Bear pointed out in a comment to the original post, HR-XML standards have been developed to facilitate this process, but for numerous reasons have not really gained much momentum in this area.

    Corporate ATS range from really, really simple and straightforward, to incredibly complex.  Developing a standard methodology to allow all these disparate ATS to connect to the Universal Profile and have the Profile automatically populate the necessary information on the Corporate ATS is a daunting proposition. Again, ResumePal seeks to solve this, but as yet has not seemed to grab the attention of the market.

    4. Corporate Motivation

    This is closely related to Reason 3.  Essentially, the vast majority of corporations would not place 'Modify or upgrade the ATS to support the Universal Profile' very high on a list of HR Technology initiatives. In a labor market where applicants for most positions are plentiful, many HR, recruiters, and hiring managers are already drowning in resumes.  Projects that can be partially interpreted as leading to even more applications, are not likely to be well received in corporations. In fact, I have heard more than a few hiring managers profess that they like to keep the online application process cumbersome, as applicants that 'stick it out' and complete the process demonstrate some level of commitment or desire to want to work for the company.  In a way, the difficult application process is the first (and sometimes only) pre-screening that takes place. Until the economy improves, I would not expect corporations to be all that interested in the Universal Profile.

     5. Compliance Reporting

    This may seem like a minor issue, (and one that candidates certainly don't care about), but almost all US companies have strict EEO and affirmative action related compliance reports that must be fild periodically. Applications that flow from the Universal Profile to the corporate ATS would likely to be augmented or enhanced in some manner to facilitate the preparation of these reports.  And that is not really something candidates would want to do, they have already completed the profile, they would be unlikely to then go to the ATS to fill in yet more data.

    These are just a few of the reasons that came to mind today when reading the original post and comments.

    I will have to write a follow-up post that attempts to describe what I think might be a better way forward for applicants and corporations alike, but honestly with the complexity and sheer number of ATS on the market, and the above described corporate barriers, there are no simple answers.

    Do you have any ideas to improve the experience at the macro level for applicants and corporations?

    Tuesday
    Jul142009

    Do you survey your Applicants?

    Yesterday Willliam Uranga posted an interesting article on his Talent Alchemy blog that raised the following question :

    'How much do you embrace what your candidates have to share?'

    I thought it was an excellent question, and coincidentally ties in with some discussions (frustrating ones to be fair); I have had lately with some folks that see the corporate ATS as a system for internal users, and not truly as a customer-facing system.

    The ATS, at least the job listing, and online application portions of it, really are more customer systems than internal corporate systems. What the applicants and visitors do with the system, how they interact with the pages, and overall how they evaluate your application process is critically important information, and should not only be gathered, but carefully analyzed and acted upon.

    But as William suggests, do most organizations really listen to applicants and job site visitors? Do they formally, or even informally ask candidates what they really thought of the ATS, the process, the quality and frequency of communication, the complexity of the system, and their overall impressions of the application experience.

    If you care to, please take a second to answer the poll question below, I am interested to know if my experiences fit with what you are seeing with your organization.

     

    The candidates are your customers.  You are trying to 'sell' them your company and your opportunities.  A part of the package that you are selling, and often their first meaningful interaction with your company is your corporate job site and your ATS.

    Shouldn't we be asking them what they think?

    Monday
    Jul132009

    New York City- Bagels, Baseball, and Biggie

    Spent the weekend with my 8 year old son in New York City, and have had a really excellent time sightseeing, hitting the American Museum of Natural History, eating some NYC classics like bagels, pizza, and Junior's Cheesecake.

    Topping off the weekend was a trip to Citi Field to see the Mets square off against the Reds. Since the Mets old ballpark  Shea Stadium was such a dump, I decided to wait until Citi was open to make a trip here for a game with my son.

     

    Big props and thanks to Robert Hans, RHHR on Twitter, who hooked my up with the Mets tickets, thanks again.

    Shake Shack


    We had an awesome time, saw some fantastic things, but for some reason this Notorious B.I.G. action figure stood out to me. Only in NYC can you drop $40 for the

    chance to have a Biggie figure on your shelf.

    Regular HR Technology programming to resume later this week.

    Friday
    Jul102009

    Dinosaur BBQ Book Giveaway 

    This week I was the fortunate recipient of a gift card for Barnes & Noble, a token of appreciation for a presentation I helped to give on 'Innovation in the Classroom'.  I attempted to preach the gospel of blogs, twitter, and networking to a very skeptical crowd of faculty members.

    I am not sure that I won over any converts that day, but I hope that it was just the first skirmish in a longer campaign.

    At any rate, I picked up a few books for the family, and with the remainder I wanted to share some of the spoils with a blog reader. Since I received the gift card mostly for talking about the blog,  I figured

    it was the least I could do.

    Rather than give away a boring technology or business book, I went for something I can unequivocally give my highest personal endorsement.

    The book I will give away to a commenter to this post (selected at random) is the Dinosaur Bar b que, An American Roadhouse cookbook, hardcover edition.

    I received this book originally about three years ago as a gift, and I have probably made over half of the recipes in it, and the fundamental smoking techniques and advice are the basis for all the smoking that I do today.

    It is a fantastic book and an even better restaurant, so if you ever get to Rochester or Syracuse be sure to check it out.

    So if you are interested in winning a copy of the best barbecue book around, leave a comment on the post, I will select a winner at random on Monday morning, July 13.

    Thanks very much for reading and for helping to give me content for my little 'innovation' presentation, and I hope you enjoy the Barbecue.

    Thursday
    Jul092009

    HR Tech Twitter Chat No. 3 - Wrap Up

    Last night Bryon Abramowitz from Knowledge Infusion and I co-hosted the third HR Tech chat on Twitter, focusing on the role of HR in Internal Collaboration projects.

    It was a relatively small group, but a quite lively chat and I think the general consensus that emerged was that HR departments have a great opportunity to lead the organization in this area, but many if not most HR leaders are not yet well-versed in the available technologies in this domain, and then how best to proceed in their evaluation and implementation.

    If you missed the chat, all the #HR_Tech tweets can be viewed here.

    Special thanks to Chuck Gillespie, Jun Cruzat, Steve Gere, Troy Heinritz, Chris Havrilla, Lois Melbourne and everyone else (especially the UC Berkeley students) that participated last night.

    The next HR Tech Twitter Chat is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5 at 9 PM EDT where the topic will be Integrated Talent Management Systems.  I hope that you can join in on the conversation.