In last week’s posting (Corporate America: Your Hiring Processes are Branded as “Broken”!) I pointed out the tremendous disconnect that exists today between job seekers and the companies that seek to hire them because of certain current hiring processes in corporate America. In this week’s posting I am going to examine one of those processes that contributes mightily to this disconnect—the “online applications ONLY” job application requirement imposed by some hiring companies. It’s a process that usually results in a “lose-lose” proposition for both hiring companies and job candidates.
Most hiring companies today have done an exceptional job of convincing virtually every job seeker that the only way to apply for an open position is to respond to one of the company’s online job postings. “Only applications received online will be accepted,” they specify. “Unsolicited résumés will be rejected.” “No phone calls accepted.” A pretty bleak, stifling situation for a job seeker today.
As I pointed out in last week’s blog, this is one of the major reasons that many job seekers who are classified as “semi-passive” (55% of all potential candidates) will not even attempt to investigate career opportunities with companies that actually want to attract—and hire!—“good” people, in order to effectively compete in today’s extremely competitive global marketplace. Unless they are particularly masochistic, these potential candidates aren’t at all likely to subject themselves to the hassle, the rejection and, oftentimes, the humiliation that is sometimes involved in the entire “online application only” process. Clearly, then, neither the hiring company nor the potential candidate wins in this situation.
To be fair about it, I can easily understand—as I am sure most of you reading this blog can as well—why hiring companies today are putting up barriers such as the “online applications only” requirement for job seekers. With so many people, both employed and unemployed, seeking new jobs, virtually any position posted by a hiring company can—and usually does!—result in a literal avalanche of applications, many from job seekers who are in no way qualified for the positions. The flip side of that coin, however, is that, while the hiring companies are “protecting” themselves from this oftentimes huge number of non-qualified candidates, they are also considering only 17% of the TOTAL job candidate pool, i.e., those who are classified as “active” (usually, the unemployed who are looking for any type of job) and/or “semi-active” (usually, employed people seeking better opportunities)! Then, these same companies lament the fact that they can’t attract “good” people for the positions they need to fill!
How, then, can hiring companies continue to protect themselves from a potential avalanche of unqualified applicants and still engage and tap into the huge pool of fully qualified top talent who will usually never be encountered through the “online application only” process? There are essentially only two viable methods:
- Set up an in-house recruiting team that will proactively reach out to these candidates and have career conversations with them. Until a candidate actually declares they want to proceed with the opportunity, there is no legal requirement for them to apply online. If legal concerns abound, or if you afraid of being accused of “poaching” by your competitors, or if an “in house” recruit team (that actually recruits) is not cost effective then . . .
- Engage the professional services of a good “headhunter” who specializes in recruiting top talent for your company’s particular market niche(s).
(Buyer Beware: Some “headhunters” and recruiters are really nothing more than glorified résumé screeners who tap into the same 17% of the candidate pool that hiring companies do. What a hiring company should look for is a recruiting firm that conducts “cold-call” direct recruiting into the competition to locate and engage talent “buried in excellence” at their current position but still open to other genuine career opportunities.)
Obviously, as I’ve already stated, it certainly is not only the hiring companies that stand to lose in the current “online applications only” environment. Many highly qualified potential job candidates merely assume that they are essentially powerless in such an environment and remain in place, in their current jobs, no matter how distasteful those jobs may have become. In fact, nothing could actually be further from the truth, particularly for those candidates who brand themselves as being unique, creative, persistent and proactive, as someone who clearly stands out from the crowd. (Check out, for example, how one enterprising young woman completely circumvented the “online applications only” game and won her dream job at this link: How Hannah Landed Her Dream Job!)
Another unique, very effective approach to landing a new job in today’s extremely challenging job market involves the candidate launching a direct mail campaign, in conjunction with other job searching activities. Learn all about this tactic at this link: Frustrated by “Post and Hope” Job Hunting? Try This Instead!
Even though the latest jobs report suggest that there may be—at last!—“light at the end of the tunnel,” make no mistake about it: The job market remains brutally competitive and quite challenging. I honestly don’t see that changing much for the next couple of years, at least. But that still doesn’t mean that you, as a job seeker, have to continue walking in “lock step” and totally acquiesce to the “online applications only” hiring process in place at so many companies today. If you truly are an exceptional candidate, if you have truly branded yourself as new, different and better from your competition, i.e., other job seekers, don’t fall for the “online applications only” game. You do have other options to seeking—and landing—your dream job! Make sure you utilize these other options to the maximum!
And, hiring companies: If you truly seek top talent for your open positions, continue to utilize the “online applications only” approach merely to filter and handle the majority of applicants, but also institute steps in your hiring process to go after and hire the top talent that you so badly need to compete in today’s global marketplace. That way, EVERYONE wins!
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.