Eight Changes in the Apply Now Element of the Candidate Experience

Posted July 09, 2012 by

Apply NowThe Internet has changed the nature of the Apply Now candidate experience. Paste your resume here is a thing of the past for companies leading the wave of change in how candidates get considered for a job. Leading edge companies are creating an interactive online candidate experience. In this new format the candidate can learn more about the company and the job while the company can learn more useful information about the people applying for the job. This article will help you understand how to obtain the most value from the Careers page of companies deploying best practices for online employment applications.

1. The Resume is becoming less important.
Job seekers put a great deal of time and energy into writing resumes, often seeking assistance to create a good looking and great sounding document. However, research shows that about one third of resumes contain misrepresentations. Tell your career story truthfully, recruiters check the facts. Recruiters use word search technology to identify resumes with specific skills and experiences. Technology puts resumes in “yes” and “no” piles based on the word search criteria. Unfortunately, people use different words to describe the same experience. And, resumes do not contain objective information that can fairly differentiate between candidates. As such, companies that are most concerned with advancing the best candidates are developing online questionnaires to quickly gather objective, fair, and consistent information about you. The resume is best used during the interview, to guide the conversation in a manner that uncovers the value your past experiences will offer in the new position. Given a choice of completing an online application questionnaire or pasting your resume, go for the online questionnaire.

2. You are a decision maker in the recruiting process.
Sometimes people get a few weeks into the new position and say, “I didn’t know this was part of the job.” or “This is not what I expected.” When people have that reaction, they have a tendency to begin looking for a new job quickly. In essence, they may quit before they even begin. To help reduce this reaction, leading edge companies are creating what is known as realistic job previews (RJP). This is not a job description. A RJP is a detailed and balanced overview of the job, describing both the exciting as well as the demanding aspects of the work. When you have more information about the position, you are better equipped to decide if the job is right for you. Look for buttons on the Careers page that say things like: Job Overview, Learn more about this job, Day in the Life, or other indications that more detailed information is available. A RJP often includes videos, or pictures of people on the job and audio files describing what people find rewarding and challenging about the work. Take time to carefully learn more about the job and make an informed decision about applying for the position.

3. Company culture impacts career satisfaction.
Each company has its own unique “feel”, it places value on certain behaviors and has a distinct management style. You may thrive in one culture and be stifled in another. Companies that want you to “fit-in” with their culture are providing an overview of their values, management style and performance expectations on their web page. Look for the sections on the web that are labeled: About Us, Who We Are, Working at ABC Co., Company Values. Be sure to look for information about career development, advancement, and what might be said about how they make working for their company a rewarding experience. Take time to learn about the company’s culture so you can decide if it offers the type of work environment you value.

4. Assessments add objectivity and fairness.
Almost 50% of companies use some form of pre-employment assessment to learn more about candidates. In most cases, this is a good thing. Assessment falls into several categories: 1. Work style or personality, 2. Reasoning or thinking ability and 3. Skills or Capabilities. Each of the three main types of assessments will be covered in more detail below. Because resumes are very subjective, and can vary so widely from people applying for the same position, assessment allows a more fair and consistent method for candidates to present themselves. There are well-developed standards for the use of assessments in employment practices and, for the most part, companies follow these recommendations, called: The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Methods. These guidelines come from the EEOC and state any testing, assessments, and even the questions used during the interview must be related to the demands of the job, and must treat all candidates fairly and consistently. In addition, the company has to show that the assessment does not discriminate against applicants. If you encounter what seems to be an assessment, it will typically begin with a thorough explanation of what you are being asked to complete. Take assessments seriously, they are your best opportunity to create a clear picture of your qualifications for the job.

5. Work style or personality is a strong predictor of job performance.
How you go about your work, or your preferred approach for handling the day-to-day demands of the job is often called your work style. Questionnaires have been used for decades to help people describe their preferred work style. In the last 10 to 15 years much has been learned about measuring people’s preferred approach to work. A work style questionnaire will typically present one or more statements and ask you to select the one that best describes you, or asks whether you agree or disagree with how it describes your preferred approach. The worst thing you can do when completing a work style questionnaire is to fake your responses or try to guess what the correct response should be. In work style there is no right answer. What is most important is to accurately and candidly describe yourself. Most companies will have conducted research on which work style characteristics relate to effectiveness and satisfaction in the job. If you have those traits, you may be more successful in the job than those people who have a different style. If you try to second-guess the answers, you may end up taking a job you won’t like, because it requires and demands a different work style than you naturally bring to a situation. This can cause stress and job burnout. When faced with completing a work style questionnaire – be yourself.

6. Each job has reasoning demands.
Solving problems, interpreting information, composing communications are just a few examples of how thinking ability is required on the job. Internet technology has made it easier for companies to present candidates with a sample of common thinking challenges faced in day-to-day work situations. In essence, companies that use this method can get a small sample of how you will respond to the thinking demands of the job and at the same time, you get a sense of the nature of the work. It can be quite helpful for you and the employer to see how effectively you are prepared to handle the thinking demands of the job. Reasoning tests may be presented with a fixed time for completion, such as 10 minutes. This levels the playing field a bit, in that on the job we do not have unlimited time, so the company gets to see which applicants get the most correct work done in the allotted time. If you find yourself at the beginning of a test of your reasoning capabilities, read the instructions carefully, take time to study the sample questions and then work as quickly as you can. If you have time left at the end, go back and see if you can complete any questions you skipped. Your score will most often be based on the total number of correct answers. When completing an assessment of your reasoning or thinking skills, work quickly, and accurately. Most are not pass-fail so don’t stress out if you miss some.

7. Knowledge and skills can be transferable.
Computer and software skills, technical capabilities and occupational knowledge are valuable resources you can transfer with you from one job to another. As a best practice, more companies are asking candidates to complete a skills or knowledge test as part of the application process. If you can apply your education and training to the job better than another candidate, the company will need to spend less time and money training you. You can prepare for an online job knowledge or skills test by taking time to review technical manuals, certification training materials and the proper procedures for job-specific skills.

8. Test Drive the Job with Simulations.
The multi-media nature of the web now allows elements of the job to be recreated in engaging, interactive exercises. You may encounter videos or audio conversations that stop and ask what you would do next, or how you would respond. There may be data entry activities which evaluate your speed and accuracy on working with data, computer database activities which examine how well you can navigate and find answers, or even prioritization and delegation exercises. These types of simulations for pre-employment testing teach you something about the job demands and often portray elements of the company culture. Being asked to complete a simulation is an indication that the company takes hiring decisions very seriously. The effort to develop company-specific simulations ensures recruiters are able to identify and hire the most qualified candidates. People who perform well on the simulation are very likely to perform extremely well on the job. If you encounter a simulation, treat it like going to work for a day. Give it your best thinking and your most sincere effort.

The nature of applying for a job is evolving. Using Internet technology, companies and candidates can learn much more about the degree of job-fit that might exist. The more comprehensive the application process, the better the quality of the hiring decision for both employer and candidate. As more information is exchanged between the applicant and the company, both parties are better equipped to make a sound decision. This leads to greater job satisfaction, higher levels of productivity and a more competitive organization.

Online applications are a big win for everybody. When you encounter a comprehensive online application process, it is most often a sign that a company is working hard to: deliver and exceptional candidate experience,  increase the objectivity of the recruiting process, ensure all candidates are treated fairly, and improve the likelihood you will be successful when they offer you the job.

Best of success in your career pursuit!

This article provided by permission from Joseph P. Murphy of Shaker Consulting Group. Deliver an exceptional candidate experience with Shaker Consulting Group’s Virtual Job Tryout®.  Obtain a work sample that predicts on-the-job performance. Identify best-fit candidates at the click of mouse. Click here for a 3 minute overview.

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