Personalizing Hiring Processes

By Brad Middleton

If you've searched for a job in the past decade you know the drill. You hop online, do some keyword searches on a number of websites, and start applying for roles you find attractive. Next comes the part that the job seeker really loves - waiting. I like to call it proactive waiting. Each day that goes by includes refreshing your email (to make sure you don’t miss a note from one of the lucky companies with which you shared your information.) You check your phone repeatedly (just you don’t miss an important call.) You start to stalk people at the companies that you think could be involved in choosing your resume. And you think of all of the reasons why they should call you - and why they potentially are not.

Doesn’t seem like the best use of time or energy, does it? When you look at this scenario, at least from the perspective of someone who deals with the hiring process daily, it is not ideal. It's far from personalized and is the complete opposite of what we would experience as a customer of these companies. There is one big difference though. Companies want to attract as many potential customers as possible. Companies want to attract the one perfect candidate for that specific job at that specific time. But what happens to everyone else? What do today’s job seekers feel about how companies are treating everyone but the perfect fit?

The American Staffing Association conducted a Workforce Monitor survey of more than 2,100 Adult job seekers using the Harris Poll online. According to their research, 69% believe the job search today is too impersonal while 8 in 10 candidates say that applying for a job feels like sending their resumes and applications into a black hole.  

If you have looked for a job recently this probably is not a surprise. It also would not surprise you to know that 83% of people polled think the very technology that is limiting the personalization is also making finding a job easier. I would agree that the access to finding openings with technology is easier but not necessarily landing an interview or the job.

Companies are taking steps to improve the personal nature of their hiring. A lot of this is going to be done digitally.  The companies that have adopted the “Candidates are Customers” approach are ahead of the game. Taking the time to reach out either via highly-customized automated messages or by phone will be half the battle. But candidates can also help improve this issue.

Unfortunately, the sheer number of people applying for roles makes it very difficult to personally respond to each and every applicant.  These personalized, automated tools help some, but someone needs to manage the who and when with these tools. Getting a nice rejection email from a company you applied to 6 months ago does more harm than good. My advice is to be very selective in what you apply to. The days of attracting a potential employer by your aptitude and “quick learner” persona are gone. If you are not at least 80% of a fit to their requirements you probably shouldn’t apply.  That shouldn’t stop you from inquiring about the role in other ways (networking, LinkedIn) but the very system you are using to apply is built to disqualify you. Unfortunately, if you are not remotely close to what the company is looking for you are not considered a true candidate and probably will get nothing but the above-mentioned rejection note.

How does all of this improve? Setting candidate expectations right at the beginning can help. Telling folks that they will only hear back if they fit a certain amount of the requirements is a start. A timely, personalized response via email is even better.  The area that companies can really improve their personalized approach is after the candidate has human contact. If a candidate takes the time to talk live with a company’s recruiter or hiring manager it is basic common courtesy to inform the candidate that they are not moving forward and why. This is a huge area of concern and we as recruiting professionals need to do better.