The online employment sector has grown rapidly since its inception about 20 years ago. Today, employers spend billions of dollars every year to find and attract new workers.

Given that kind of spending, you might reasonably assume that employers are downright giddy about how online tools and technologies have enabled them to effectively compete for top talent — especially as the war for talent has steadily escalated. But the truth is … they’re not giddy at all.

In fact, employers who truly understand the online employment industry are disappointed in the results they’re getting. And their disappointment is growing. The reason: candidate abandonment. An alarming percentage of job candidates who begin the online application process abandon their applications before completing them. Some studies put this abandonment rate at nearly 90%.

Employers are discovering that job seekers — especially those with unique skills and experience — view the online application processes as cumbersome, repetitive, invasive and utterly unproductive. It’s a frustrating time-suck that vast numbers of candidates simply won’t abide.

As I’ve already stated in a previous post, no single group in our industry is to blame for this sorry state of affairs. We all share the blame, despite the fact that the vast majority of online recruiting product and service providers conduct their businesses with the highest integrity and with their employer-clients’ best interests at heart. We’ve arrived at this predicament because of a prevalent lack of communication and integration among job boards, online recruiting sites and ATS providers. But we’re not the only ones feeling the pain. The disconnect among all of the key players is tarnishing employment brands, discouraging potentially great hires, and putting the entire industry’s credibility at risk.

So, what’s the solution? We need to treat job seekers as though they’re our customers.

By approaching job seekers as customers, we’d do a much better job of meeting their needs and expectations. We’d look more carefully at their distinctive “buying” preferences and behaviors, and we’d change the candidate experience accordingly. For instance, we’d find a way to eliminate the long, repetitive and often invasive forms we’re requiring them to complete. No company in its right mind would demand that customers jump through those kinds of hoops just to make a purchase.

Either we take the initiative to tackle our disconnect and candidate experience problems or job seekers will abandon us altogether. They’ll simply seek out more self-driven approaches to finding employment opportunities — approaches such as professional networking, optimization of social media, and ferreting out employers that put people, not technology, in front of job candidates. In fact, I believe this is already happening to some degree.

In a recent survey conducted by reThinkData and JobBoardDoctor, two-thirds of the respondents (representing job boards from throughout the world) indicated that they offer employers the option of processing applicants via their own ATSs. So, after entering information on a job board, candidates are redirected to an employer’s site, where yet another online application awaits, often requiring the entry of the same data already provided to the job board. Is there any wonder why people with top skills and solid experience are bailing out? This redirection issue has an astounding 87% of the survey’s respondents concerned about abandonment rates. Clearly, the time has come to take action.

Today’s consumers are accustomed to seamless online buying experiences and they have no patience for anything less. What’s more, they’re totally empowered to broadcast their “likes” and “dislikes” on a global basis through social media and other popular websites. Job seekers are no different. They should be treated with the same care and respect as consumers. If they’re not and their online candidate experience remains unimproved, our clients will suffer and the entire industry could see its bridge to the future go up in flames.

Please join me in helping to rally our industry to become better connected and better communicators. We’re all in this together, so I urge you to join The Connection Alliance and help bring about the change we need. If we succeed, we’ll all have something to be giddy about.


photo credit: Purple-Orange-Blue via photopin (license)