In order to deliver a truly efficient candidate experience, the online recruitment industry needs to come together to adopt a set of best practices. This is the second in a series of posts that explore a few of these potential best practices and the reasons they’re so urgently needed. In this post, we tackle the issue of how to engage candidates in order to obtain and maintain their profile data within recruitment website communities.

Most every online job ad is posted to multiple recruitment sites directly by the employer or its agent. Job listings are then picked up by aggregators and distributed across hundreds of job sites and back-filled into others. It’s difficult to know how many times any single job is posted across the Internet. The logic behind all this activity? The greater the market penetration (reach), the more qualified candidates you’ll see applying for jobs.

The value of this “multiplier” of job postings has varying value depending upon the type of job posted – sometimes targeted niche job boards are the key to the hire, sometimes the general, high volume job boards bring in the greatest applicants. One thing that doesn’t vary much across these sites is that everyone wants to be the one-stop shop for candidates during their job search. They want to be the candidates’ talent community of choice.

In our previous post, we wrote about the ATS Login/Register page and how it can be a real barrier to the application process. Recruitment websites are faced with a similar challenge: how to capture the candidate’s identity, basic contact information and high-level skills and interests (basically Login/Register) without setting up real barriers to the application process.

Recruitment sites are as unique as the talent pools they attract, and developing relevant content and services to attract and keep candidates coming back to the site is crucial to sustaining the business. Supporting a candidate application “best practice” experience is both the ultimate challenge and opportunity.

Southwest Airlines is my airline of choice, why? Because their system is efficient and easy to use, flights are usually on time, and they go just about everywhere I want to go at a reasonable price. I love their online capabilities, in fact, it is one of the only websites where I immediately log in to my account before I do anything, and I’m not always booking a flight (their #1 service). Sometimes, I’m booking a hotel, or renting a car, or checking out how many more points I need this year to keep my Preferred Frequent Flyer status. In short, I love this site. Why? Because they make it easy for me to get what I want, when I want it, and on any device I want. Wow, I’m part of Southwest’s flying community!

Just imagine, a user experience on a recruitment site that feels like Southwest.com, where the user wants to log-in upon arrival. It can be done, let’s look at a few ideas:

1. Go Mobile:Candidates are using mobile more and more. At Southwest their mobile site is in many ways easier to use than the workstation version. A growing number of job candidates will stop using a site if it is not mobile friendly.

2. Treat Candidates like Customers:Personalize their experience. Give candidates reasons to want to log in. At Southwest, I log in immediately so I can use my account data to book and manage travel, print boarding passes, get flight status notifications, rent a car, etc. At a recruitment site, candidates want a stress-free and thoughtful job application process. They want easy access to view customized job searches, check out who is hiring in their area, and review the latest job alerts. They also want supportive services such as help with resume writing, the ability to learn about relevant training and education opportunities, assistance with managing their job applications, and the opportunity to network with peers. The most supportive sites also allow candidates to attend virtual or local job events, chat with mentors and other candidates, and be an active part of a “talent community.”

3. Be Relevant:Jobs drive traffic, and a recruitment site with too few real jobs is not relevant. Deliver fresh, current content and personalized services. If Southwest only had three flights from Baltimore a day, I’d be on Delta or United, looking for what I need. Build, buy, or partner, but be relevant.

4. Offer Employer Customers Recruitment Solutions:Don’t simply give them job ad packages and resume searching. At Southwest, they cater to business travelers with last minute booking, a free cancel policy, free bags … you get the idea. Employers want exclusive email campaigns, career fairs, branding opportunities, performance guarantees, and up-sell services to support the hiring process. Data analytics, personal service, and ATS system integration for job distribution and candidate application delivery are part of this “talent community” for the employer as well – these all link to delivering an efficient candidate experience!

There are so many options for job seekers today. The number of recruitment sites is in the thousands. That means we need to become much more user-friendly for our employer clients and job seekers. It also means that building a strong talent community is more important than ever.

Technology is leading the way to improving the candidate application experience, and data will support source tracking and apply to hire performance metrics.

Industry stakeholders are communicating for a better customer experience, and breaking down these barriers will go a long way toward our own evolution — and toward securing our future success.

Image courtesy of pannawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net