Make Sure Your Candidates Have a Great Experience

 

A few months ago when I was job hunting, I was applying to companies that had a well-known brand, were large, and seemed to have the culture and stability I was looking for. Naturally, I assumed that my applications would go unanswered or that a few months later I would receive a generic e-mail letting me know that they’ve gone with someone more qualified. Unfortunately, this has become the new norm for job seekers and to be quite honest, it is not a great experience. Recruiters are flooded with e-mails and alerts in their ATS systems that it can sometimes be hard to respond to candidates even with the generic e-mail. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I had a great candidate experience even for a position I was never interviewed for.

One of the areas I was targeting was the west coast and many of my dream companies were located out in Silicon Valley. These were top companies and majority of the time my applications and LinkedIn e-mails went unanswered. Then one night, I received a phone call from a company I applied to—Netflix. Many people are well aware of Netflix and may have even used it before. Other individuals know a ton about their company culture (I learned about it in a few classes during my college days). I seriously wasn’t expecting to hear from them, let alone receive a phone call from their recruiting department. The recruiter simply called me to let me know that they received my resume and was impressed with my experience, but didn’t have a position open matching that at the time. She also told me her e-mail address and insisted that I connect with her on LinkedIn so we can stay in-touch for any future opportunities. And that was that. A simple phone call made quite an impression.

Experiences like this can benefit a company:

  • It can increase customer referrals: Needless to say, I told many people about my enjoyable experience with them. It really meant a lot to me to have someone reach out to me even if they didn’t have anything at the time, especially a company that would have a large volume of resumes coming through. It also meant a lot that the recruiter made it easy for me to have her information and stay in touch with her. By telling others about this experience, it gave Netflix good PR. Word of mouth is amazing for marketing and advertising.
  • It can increase talent referrals:  Because this recruiter gave me her contact information, I was able to connect talented workers with her. A couple even landed interviews and offers. Also, I told these individuals my experience which made more of them eager and excited to apply to Netflix. Engaged candidates can lead to engaged employees if hired.
  • Rapport: This recruiter and company impressed me so much by this simple act that they gained my respect. This has made me want to build a rapport and relationship with the company and even help them find other talented individuals if they contact me for help. Building this rapport helps the recruiting department have mini-strategic partnerships with people they’ve spoken to.

These little things really go a long way with candidates. Finding jobs are hard and dealing with no-answers or generic answers can really wear on a candidate’s confidence. Taking that extra time to personally reach out to them can go a long way to a point where they would be extremely grateful. In turn, their gratitude could make them want to return the favor in any way they can. Positive candidate experiences are more important than businesses realize, so be sure to make the effort if you can.

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Photo Source

Netflix Website

 

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Formatting Your Resume to Work with ATS and TAS

To help recruiters manage the overwhelming amount of resumes they receive, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Talent Acquisition Systems (TAS) are being utilized more frequently. Although this technology is a phenomenal tool in helping recruiters make their workload more manageable, these tools can sometimes accidentally weed out candidates that are qualified for the job opening. This issue can cause candidates to wonder why they weren’t good enough for a position when in reality; their resume may have been screened out and was never seen by a recruiter in the first place. It has been determined that this accidental screening-out of resumes is simply caused by resume formatting that isn’t compatible with the ATS and TAS software. In order to increase chances of having your resume getting through this screening, you must format your resume properly.

After speaking to a few IT professionals that deal with these systems, I was able to compile a few tips on how to format your resume in a favorable way:

  • Save it in a format that allows editable text: For example, Word documents may be the best format to save it in. Other formats, such as a PDF, can make it hard for the ATS/TAS system to pull information from it. Additionally, sometimes recruiters need to adjust some things on your resume (i.e. grammatical errors) before passing it along to the hiring manager. Therefore, editable versions of your resume would be best to submit.
  • Do not use templates: different word processor software and career sites have resume templates created for your convenience. This is a great way to learn how to lay out your resume in a clean, easy-to-read format but using the template can actually cause issues during the screening process. The pre-formatting of these templates are not easily readable by the software, so it’s best to only use the template for ideas on how to lay it out (but don’t actually use them).
  • Keep it clean: As mentioned before, do not use the templates but ensure that your “free-hand” format is clean. Make sure you break up your sections, such as education and work experience, in a clean and easy-to-read way. Be sure to label them accordingly.
  • Use keywords: One of the biggest screening criteria for these tools is the keyword optimization. ATS and TAS will compare your resume against the job description to see how relevant your experience is. Take the time to review the job description and tweak some of your verbiage to match what the description has. This can help create a higher percentage for candidate/job match.

Seeing that more companies and job boards are using ATS and TAS, it may be in your best interest to reformat your resume to work best in your favor. These little tips can really make all the difference. Additionally, it can help your job search by ensuring you aren’t wrongfully screened out for a job that you are qualified for due to a format that is unreadable by the systems.

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What Job Seekers Want from Recruiters

Job seeking isn’t easy and can almost seem like a job in itself. It can be even more frustrating and stressful if there is miscommunication or lack of communication between seekers and those recruiting for the job openings they’ve applied to. After talking to a group of seekers, I would like to bring up some issues that they would like to see resolved. (Don’t worry, Recruiters. I’ll be sure to tell your side of the story tomorrow.)

A few individuals told me about what really grinds their gears during the job hunt, which is as follows:

No response from recruiters. Many job seekers realize that job openings could stay open for several weeks or several months. They’re also aware that they may not be selected from the hundreds of resumes that are received. However, never receiving a confirmation on the status of their application can cause unnecessary anxiety and false hope. They would sincerely appreciate recruiters updating statuses in the applicant tracking systems. Or, they would be fine with a generic e-mail sent to applicants giving them a status update or to tell them that they were not selected. This could allow them closure on the subject.

Recruiters that don’t seem to listen. If a candidate speaks to a recruiter about their work experience and what they need/want for their next job, they typically expect the recruiter to listen. Nothing is more frustrating than having a recruiter contact you about a job that is irrelevant to what was discussed, such as: a job not paying enough to cover bills; a position that you specifically said you wouldn’t like working in; or a location that is out of your maximum mileage to travel. This situation could cause candidates to lose trust in a recruiter and the company that the recruiter is from. Additionally, it could make candidates feel offended if a recruiter seems to only call them about positions that are below the candidate’s experience and expectations.

Recruiters that do not respond to e-mails or calls. This is a peeve that is especially true for candidates who have already interviewed. It’s understandable that a decision may not have been made about the job opening, but if a candidate calls or e-mails you to check in, take a minute to give them a response even if there are no updates. Recruiters are busy and swamped, but I often wonder if they can lighten their load by giving a first time response versus someone constantly contacting them until they finally get a reply.

Recruiters who don’t have enough information. Candidates are looking for jobs for a reason: they’ve lost their job; they’ve been terminated; or they’re looking for a better opportunity. Regardless of the reason, they’re all looking for a better situation than the last one. In order for them to feel comfortable about taking a new position, they’re going to want the most details possible to determine if it would be a good fit. It can be exasperating when a candidate asks a recruiter the details of the duties, company, company culture, expectations, and so on and the recruiter cannot answer it. Although this is not always the recruiter’s fault (hiring managers and clients could be a pain to get information from), it is still just a negative experience all together and could cause candidates to pass on a good opportunity or take a position that is completely wrong for them.

Although there were plenty of other things mentioned to me, these seemed to be the main trends. Now, this is in no way meant to attack recruiters- I’ve been one before so I completely understand that sometimes these issues are out of your control. However, job seekers would like to bring these things up in hopes to educate recruiters on what it is like to be on the other side of things. They hope that providing these details could help recruiters and job seekers find a way to compromise and also make the job seeking/job filling experience more rewarding.

Are Applicant Tracking Systems Helping or Hurting?

Today, I spent some time thinking about the many different HR topics I could share with you all. After some careful consideration, I felt that a post about applicant tracking systems (ATS) may be a useful subject for both recruiters and job seekers. As we navigate through the technology age, more companies are using online application systems for their job posting and candidate selection processes. This can be a very useful tool when it comes to finding a candidate/job fit. However, many recruiters and job seekers are not using it to their advantage. Thus, making the applicant tracking systems hurt rather than help.

ATSs are used to help weed out resumes and applications that are not qualified based on the job description criteria. This can help the recruiters tremendously by cutting down the time they need to spend sorting out these resumes. However, if your resume is not formatted in a way that is favorable to the system, you may be losing out on opportunity.

First, I would like to go over information and suggestions for the job seekers:
in order to properly restructure your resume in a way to benefit you, you need to know what type of information these systems pull from it. Keywords are one of the most important things you can focus on when reformatting your resume to your advantage. ATSs look for specific keywords unique to the job description and then rank your resume against those metrics. So, in order to be ranked in the top percentile, you may want to consider trying the following:

• Use keywords and phrases that are similar to the content in the job description.
• Send your resume in format that ATS can read, such as a .doc or rich text (ATSs have a hard time reading PDF format).
• Get rid of things that ATS can’t process, such as tables, graphs, or pictures.
• Don’t get too creative with your section headings. If you have “Professional Overview” for your job experience but the system is looking for “Work Experience”, your work history may be overlooked.
• Your employer and title should be presented before your dates of employment.

Those little tips could help you get your resume noticed by the recruiter which is the first step to proving that you are a fit for the job. After that, it is up to you to stand out in the interview process. Feel free to look at some of my previous posts for tips and suggestions on how to do so.

Now, onto the next part: it’s not only up to the candidate to find ways to best utilize the applicant tracking system. It’s also up to you, recruiters. I’ve done recruiting before in different roles and have used ATSs like Taleo and Field Glass. One issue that I noticed on our end (and really irked me) was the lack of documentation in the systems. I know there is only a specific amount of information that we can place in those systems for legal reasons, however, there are things you can do to create a useful and detailed history. Some suggestions of good applicant tracking from a recruiter standpoint are:

• Update statuses through the hiring process (i.e. referred to hiring manager, interview set, offer, etc.).
• Make notations of information gathered in each step. (i.e. Candidate interviewed well and has brought in an interesting portfolio that is attached to hard copy of resume).
• Document the outcome (i.e. candidate has great potential but was passed due to lack of education. Currently finishing school and is interested in applying again once he/she meets the requirement).

I feel that having this documentation could help recruiters make better decisions. If a recruiter saw that an applicant had the status of “Not Hired” in the system they may wonder things such as: what was wrong with the candidate that they weren’t hired; did the candidate interview poorly; did the candidate fail pre-employment checks; and so on. These thoughts could potentially make them pass on a perfectly good candidate. This candidate could have been well suited for the company but the recruiter would never know because the documentation wasn’t there, nor would they know which recruiter to ask if they were trying to get more clarification.

Applicant tracking systems can be great tools. They can help impressive candidates get noticed by recruiters and they can help recruiters find qualified candidates sooner. In order to make that situation happen, we must use it for its intended purpose to the best of our abilities. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will make your experiences with ATSs more successful.

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I’d love to hear more suggestions on how you made applicant tracking systems work for you. Send me a comment or tweet @ashlaurenperez

Some great articles to read on the subject:

5 Insider Secrets to Beating Applicant Tracking Systems
LinkedIn Q&A

Companies Mentioned:

Taleo
Field Glass