Ivo is a Social Media enthusiast with a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural background. He previously lead two candidate experience tracks at TruMadrid and TruGeneva. Within the last 2 years, he analyzed different Applicant Tracking Systems and focused on the use of HR and Social Media from an applicant’s perspective. He currently works at Small-Improvements, an award winning start up that provides a modern approach towards performance and peer reviews. Besides Human Resources and Social Media, he also passionate about International Relations/International Politics. Ivo will be leading the candidate experience track at #trulondon on 6th – 7th March. In this post he proposes a controversial fix for the broken candidate experience.

The candidate experience has been playing an important part for me for a while. Going through the application and candidate processes for start ups and bigger organiations in Europe and the US, I gained a lot of insights. For the candidate experience track at TruLondon, I would like to discuss these three issues:

1. Technology as an enabler and barrier for applicants

2. How to make ATS more efficient (and applicant friendly)

3. Application fees: A win-win situation

1. Technology as an enabler and barrier for applicants

Bill Boorman recently posted in a blog post about the candidate experience arguing
that “Technology is used as a barrier rather than an enabler,” and I could not agree more with him. While thinking of technologies catered to HR, I guess Applicant Tracking Systems is often the first thing that comes to one’s mind. Companies have found ways to manage and deal with hundreds or even thousands of applications for one vacant position. And applicants have figured out ways to write ATS applications and use the autofill function of their browser. Also, sourcing techniques and tools for recruiters are now available as new technologies are used, but applicants are aware of these and the world-wide web is full of blog posts on keyword doping for LinkedIn and resumes. So there are various ways to use technology as an enabler or barrier. During the candidate experience track at TruLondon, I will discuss these tools from an applicant perspective, and will share new technologies and techniques for using them. For example, applicants can use sales software (like yesware.com) to track their applications or use a gmail add-on (rapportive.com) to source email addresses of HR managers.

2. How to make ATS more efficient (and applicant friendly)

Applicant Tracking Systems are a great way to manage incoming applications. Nonetheless, for most applicants they are a nightmare, because applicants are not aware about what happens with the information after submitting, they are all different and take too long to fill out. And, in worst cases, applicants will never hear back or receive any feedback. Often job postings are not clear enough, and don’t highlight the “killer questions” or requirements with enough clarity. It is understandable that while working with an ATS, the sky is the limit with the number of applications because they are easy to filter out. But my impression is that companies do not really care about the time and effort applicants put into an application. An indicator that a job posting might be not good enough is when most of the applicants are not matching the filters before a company considers reading through the application. The goal of each company should be to receive a limited number of highly qualified applications rather than a huge number of less qualified ones.
Also, why not leave the cover letter or motivational letter out for the first initial screening (ATS)?. I always found it a pain to fill out ATS and submit a cover letter while knowing that most likely no one will ever read this letter when they filter me out because of a ATS category. It would be a fair gesture towards applicants to openly say that you need the ATS to pre filter because you receive too many applications, but also let the applicants know that after passing ATS, they must then submit a cover letter. This way the cover letter will be more specific to the needs of the company and position in question, which fits the interest of both parties. In the end, the applicant and the company looking for someone will benefit from this. And it shows that the company respects the time of their prospective employees.

3. Application fees: a win-win situation

Lastly, I wanted to share an idea and would love to hear some comments on paying for applications. When prospective students apply for universities, they are required to pay an administrative fee, e.g. a non-refundable application fee of $70 for New York University. Why not do the same for job applications? Of course it sounds crazy and unfair but here are my points:

- There still has to be a non-paid option. The paid option is a consideration service that guarantees a recruiter will take a look at my application.
- With a paid option, applicants will take more time to read the job description before applying and choosing to use or not to use the paid option.
- Applicants who are convinced that they are a great fit will take the risk and pay; e.g. offer a “I’m convinced I’m a really good fit application option,” for $50.
- The fee collected will be only used to improve the hiring process and to evaluate the application.
- This process has to be as transparent as possible to avoid unhappy applicants and fraud.

I understand that it is impossible and unfair to let all applicants pay for this; it might seem like fraud or scam. But what about having the option of a “pro” application that costs $50, which means that an application passes the ATS black box and applicants are aware that a HR manager will directly look at the application? In this case, I think of the fee as paying for a consideration service by the company. ATS is a barrier especially for unconventional backgrounds, so why not offer a refundable “pro” application fee that an applicant receives if he/she is invited for an interview. This way, companies can decrease the number of desperate applicants who apply for every job generically, and bring more qualified candidates into the hiring process. I think it will lead to an overall win-win situation; what do you think?”

You can connect with Ivo at:

Ivo is a Social Media enthusiast with a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural background. He previously lead two candidate experience tracks at TruMadrid and TruGeneva. Within the last 2 years, he analyzed different Applicant Tracking Systems and focused on the use of HR and Social Media from an applicant’s perspective. He currently works at Small-Improvements, an award winning start up that provides a modern approach towards performance and peer reviews. Besides Human Resources and Social Media, he also passionate about International Relations/International Politics.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ibottcher Twitter: @ibottcher Personal Website: www.ivobottcher.com

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