What Job Seekers Want


Last Friday I had an opportunity to host HireFriday's #HFchat. If you're not familiar with HireFriday, it's a great initiative to get people back to work led by seasoned HR pros and hosted on Twitter Every Friday from 12-1 pm ET. Each week a different host presents a topic and 5-6 questions to spark discussion around it. Participants range from active job seekers to recruiters and everywhere in between. My topic, abstract and question are below: What if job seekers ran the recruiting process? Premise: active job seekers are now running recruiting. What would their process look like? What would change? How would they re-define the process?

  • Q1 What would you include in a job description to entice the best person to apply?
  • Q2 You have 500 applications for 1 job. How do you decide who gets interviewed?
  • Q3 What's the best way to tell the other 499 that they didn't get the job?
  • Q4 How do you handle a candidate who regularly applies to your jobs but is not right for any of them?
  • Q5 What is your strategy for engaging potential job seekers using social media?
  • Q6 You're asked by the CEO, “How would you improve our recruiting process”? Well?

There was good dialog around all of the questions, and I think some valuable insights to gain for myself and other recruiters. Below are some of the key points I took away from the chat.

  • Job Descriptions: Job seekers have grown tired of the lifeless laundry list job descriptions that have become all too prevalent in today's recruiting process. I agree completely and have written about it for SHRM. Job seekers want to know what success looks like for a given job. They want the personality and culture of the organization to come through the text (bonus points if it captures the spirit of the hiring manager). They want salary and benefit details. They're also ready for video job descriptions. [whether recruiting is ready remains to be seen, but the appetite is there]
  • Communication: I expected this would likely be the biggest pain point for job seekers, and the discussion around this topic validated that. Candidates are frustrated. Black hole syndrome is very really, and it's costing you hires. Jobseekers shared story after story of recruiters dropping the ball and not contacting them back, even after in-person interviews. Recruiting is often a numbers game and the harsh reality is the vast majority of applicants for a given job will be rejected. Job seekers understand this, they just want to know where they stand. Recruiters need to set expectations and follow through on what they promise. Whether we use auto-responses with FAQs, or personally call applicants - they just want to know where they stand. We owe them that. 
  • Social Media: Job seekers see social media a valuable tool to learn more about an organization's people and culture. They use social media to research companies and contacts. They like social media accounts that are engaging, interesting, and are more than extensions of a job board sending out nothing but jobs. Social Media is becoming an expectation, so if your organization muzzles and/or strictly regulates your employee's use so social media - it may be costing you hires.

As a recruiter there were some valuable takeaways for me. There are internal complexities that make some of the suggestion not possible (i.e. sharing comp on job descriptions), but there were many suggestions recruiters should take note of. 

My final thought here is a reminder that all recruiters and recruiting leaders have sat in the job seeker seat at some point in their own careers. The best recruiting leaders have built internal processes that mirrored that best experience they had in their job searches, and work tirelessly to improve areas where they've experienced shortcomings firsthand.