In the Real World, Online Resumes Are Hot, Human Contact Is Not

To compare how easy it is for applicants to apply for jobs through companies’ online job boards, one company decided to put a new online spin on “mystery shopping.”

Bernard Hodes Group, a talent-solutions provider, chose two major companies within five major industries (retail, banking, high tech, restaurants, and hotels) to track over the course of 10 working days.

On the first day, each applicant submitted a resume to one of the 10 companies.

The resumes were developed “to ensure our paper candidates would look like the Michael Jordans of their industries,” says Karen Hart, senior vice president of Bernard Hodes’ healthcare division.

Next, the company had the applicants follow up with a phone call to each company. Finally, the company audited the online candidate experience for ease of use and click ability from the perspective of a job seeker.

Although some of these encounters were positive, the overall results suggest the intent is to keep human contact to a minimum.

“While technological savvy is almost a prerequisite to life in the 21st century, one would hope that one of the most important goals of a company — the sourcing, recruitment and hiring of the employees, on whom its future depends, would be more human,” says Hart.

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In fact, the research discovered that:

  • One of 10 resumes submissions yielded a response, and that response was a form email rejection letter.
  • Three of the 10 candidates calling to follow up on their resume submissions were able to speak to a person in HR (though contact with humans resulted in the caller directed back to the website).
  • The total applicant “capture rate” was just 15%.
  • Technical problems/deficiencies were noted on all 10 websites.

Human Solutions

Hart recommends that recruiters implement the following five steps so that technology can help, not hinder, when seeking to hire top talent:

  1. Focus on better customer service. If the careers section of your company’s website is not easy to use, link your IT and marketing departments to create a more user-friendly application process.
  2. Redesign the website to appeal to applicants. Revise details about departments, job descriptions, benefits, scheduling alternatives, and company culture.
  3. Reassess critical information. To make the process less time-consuming for applicants, determine whether you can shorten the initial application process. The resume should serve as the basis for what you, as a recruiter, need. Imagine an entry-level individual with a basic education and/or basic technological experience attempting to apply.
  4. Keep the lines of communication open. As a courtesy, include a general response timeline. Also, remember to include your name and contact information.
  5. Don’t ignore the resumes. To deal with an increasing number of electronic resumes, perhaps your company can assign the responsibility to one person to assess the applications each day.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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