We’re more connected than ever as most people use digital communications in their relationships, but job seekers are lamenting the lack of direct communications with potential employers.
According to Colleen Gaudette, an Express Employment Professionals franchise owner in Windsor, Ontario, job applicants feel that applying online is a black hole.
“Candidates frequently complain about the process of applying for jobs online,” she said. “They find it tedious and time-consuming, with very little opportunity to stand out to an employer. They really dislike that employers almost never respond or follow up with them.”
Jason Patrick, an Express franchise owner in Nashville, Tennessee, offers a similar perspective.
“Attitudes about online job boards are going down,” he said. “Believe it or not, in Nashville, we have had positive responses to direct phone communication with job seekers. People simply want a call back. It may be a text to let people know you want to talk, but a conversation is needed.”
Patricia Callihan-Bowman, an Express franchise owner in Salem, Oregon, has witnessed this firsthand.
“We have this contest going every month to determine that we’ve answered every single online application,” she said. “So, we are answering those, and we are seeing a really good response from that. People are posting online, ‘I didn’t think anyone would respond to my resume, but I got a reply right back.'”
Applicants’ surprise in hearing from Callihan-Bowman’s office demonstrates the low expectations that so many job seekers have for online applications.
Janis Petrini, an Express Employment Professionals franchise owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan warns that being overly reliant on online job portals can cause employers to overlook strong applicants, a real danger in today’s tight labor market.
“Employers need to give people options on how to apply,” she said. “They should be willing to speak with someone on the phone, in-person or over the internet. In the current market, employers need to be willing to actually speak with and learn more about every candidate who applies for a position. They can’t rely on technology to filter people in or out or else they might miss out on valuable talent.”
Gaudette agrees that the human element is important.
“Online applications de-humanize the process and employers miss out on understanding the character of the candidates, their motivation and key employability soft skills that go beyond what their job duties require,” Gaudette said.
So why are businesses so reliant on impersonal online applications?
“Because of the lack of time,” Petrini said. “Ever since the recession, people are doing the jobs of two to three people at once. Many small- or mid-sized companies don’t have dedicated HR teams, so the recruiting and hiring falls on the owner or hiring managers.”
Businesses “are overwhelmed with applicants,” adds Callihan-Bowman. But if you don’t review them carefully, “you may miss someone who is a hidden jewel.”
To give job applicants more opportunities for direct communication, while still embracing the convenience of online applications, Express recently launched ExpressJobs , an app that allows applicants to submit applications and then stay in touch directly with their local staffing offices and monitor up-to-the-minute details. This approach eases fears of applications going into a “black hole,” while still allowing employers to process high volumes of applications.
“As with any technology, there are growing pains. Online job applications are certainly a great example,” said Bill Stoller, Express CEO. “For a while, it represented a great new frontier. But now it’s time to rethink online hiring. Some level of human element in the initial stages of the hiring process is important to find the right match for the job seeker and the employer. Going forward, successful companies will find a way to allow for more direct communication between recruiters and job seekers at the outset.”