Beyond balancing the unlimited creativity and seductiveness of the Internet lies the challenge of delivering on and perpetuating the promise of the employment brand. But if you move forward with an online employment platform without clearly articulating technology requirements, you could wind up diluting the job seeker’s experience and negatively impacting your employment brand. One of the best reasons to establish an employment brand and move the employment process online is that it allows you to create a “virtual career center” (VCC) that’s accessible to job seekers 24/7. While this presents an incredible opportunity to build a diverse pool of applicants and broaden the company’s talent base, there is a critical risk to the long-term investment. If the supporting technology is not applicant-centric, the risk in this case is directly related to the employment brand. Steve Pollock, president of WetFeet, has looked at this relationship through his research. “The online application is the place where the candidate’s interest in the employer and the employer’s need for the candidate intersect,” he said. “Ideally, the technology system an employer uses will facilitate rather than impede this transaction.” Certainly there is a cost/benefit balance to be realized in identifying a hiring management solution to host your VCC. The cost/benefit decision needs to consider the applicant interface, recruiter interface and perhaps even an HRIS interface, which all compete for functionality. Realizing balance between each interface is critical to the overall return on investment in talent acquisition and the company’s employment brand. So how can balance be realized without significantly impacting the budget, the value of a talent community, recruiter productivity, or system productivity? The key is to identify the specific functionality needs associated with the objective for each interface and then commit to delivering on your employment brand promise. Someone recently said to me that he felt he had been successful in the business ventures his company pursued not because he was brilliant (which I, however, think he probably is) but because he was disciplined. If a company is talent-driven ó meaning that the company relies on attracting and hiring best-fit talent to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage ó then delivering on a brand promise takes considerable discipline. Robert Burgelman, author of “Strategy as Destiny,” defines strategy as “the consequential impact from consciously taking action or the failure to take action.” Regardless of any direct action taken by your organization, there is a strategy in place that is being communicated to job seekers. The question is, how much influence and control do you want to have in strategically positioning and communicating an employment brand? Infusing discipline into the development of an online employment strategy and making decisions through the customers’ eyes will perpetuate the employment brand. How do you balance an online employment strategy so it is developed and seamlessly delivered through the eyes of the customer? Taking a disciplined approach is just the first step. You also need to consider the following:
- Define a “candidate as customer” philosophy. Defining a “candidate as customer” philosophy allows for a great deal of clarity in decision-making. By taking a balanced approach from the beginning, HR can anticipate any negative candidate experiences throughout the online application process.
- Communicate your objectives to your IT department. The objectives of IT are not always aligned with HR. The IT department may often lack the expertise to understand what a good applicant experience looks and feels like. Yes, applicant traffic today is often at an overwhelming level. Processing volume to identify “best fit” candidates can certainly be daunting. However, the applicant interface does not need to be compromised to realize functionality that drives recruiter productivity.
- Develop a long-term strategy with benchmark goals and critical touch points. Regardless of where a company may be in positioning their employment brand online, attracting and hiring best-fit talent for the organization is a long-term investment ó an investment that must be supported at critical touch points by the hiring management solution in place. The transition of adapting to the medium takes time, and the change management component is enormous. Execution of the strategy is not over when the system implementation is completed.
- Establish a good method for communicating goals internally. HR needs to have a seat at the table, stay on the agenda, and position the value of balancing each interface competing for functionality. This is important to deliver a consistent experience to the applicant and cannot be underestimated.
The next step involves defining what to look for, and may serve as a guideline when considering the best-fit hiring management system vendor for a company. When you are looking to find the right vendor to help manage your online employment processes, consider the following questions:
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- Is the vendor a fit with your company’s brand, philosophy, and expectations?
- Is the vendor client-centric, and do they understand your needs and objectives? Or are they driven to see how to fit your needs into their objectives?
- Have objectives been clearly defined and can they be articulated to identify any non-negotiables to achieve balance through a disciplined, committed approach to an applicant-centric solution?
- Can the solution consistently deliver a positive experience to the applicant?
- Does the application process follow a logical process, with minimum steps and redundancy?
- Have you taken the solution for a test drive? How does it feel?
- If you were an applicant would the process have been a positive enough experience to allow you, as the applicant, to feel in control of the process? Does it respect your privacy? Can you apply for a position or profile and provide only minimum information? Are you asked to provide sensitive information such as a social security number? If so, is the data being requested on a secured interface?
- Does the solution sustain, or ideally even add value to, your employer brand?
- Does it encourage candidates to periodically return to the company’s website and consider future opportunities?
- Does it encourage candidates to be open to receiving future correspondences from the employer as opportunities become available?
These are just a few things that can lead to a disciplined approach. Staying on the right path can deliver added value to an employment brand and not allow an HMS implementation to have a negative impact.