Six months ago I wrote an article outlining some trends that I felt would help to define the future of online screening. I think that the start of the new year is a great time to take a look back at some of these ideas in order to gain some perspective on them and to understand their significance for the future of online hiring and Human Capital Management. The purpose of this article is to briefly discuss four of these trends and to review some evidence that will help us to understand where we are on the path to seeing them become reality. Trend 1: The Internet’s ability to quickly collect large amounts of data will be instrumental in the development of future online screening tools. By this I mean that the increasing popularity of the Internet as a job searching tool will allow more and more data to be collected from job seekers. This in turn will provide larger amounts of information about the online job searching process and the effectiveness of the screening tools used in this process, helping to reveal underlying patterns in job seeker traits and behaviors relative to job requirements. This information will help provide a body of knowledge that will be essential to the development and validation of a new generation of online screening systems. Where are we now? Admittedly, it will be a while until we see the next generation of online screening systems. However, there is significant evidence that shows that the data that will serve as the foundation for these systems is becoming more readily available. For instance:
- Recent research into online job seeker behavior conducted by iLogos indicates that 88% of global Fortune 500 companies currently have a careers portal on their corporate websites.
- The results of a survey investigating screening practices among 105 major companies conducted by Global Learning Resources and myself indicates that about one third of respondents are currently using some form of web-based screening, and that almost 100% of those not using currently using online screening indicated that they would be at least somewhat likely to use some form of online screening in the future.
- The same iLogos study cited above indicates that a significant majority of the 1,543 job seekers surveyed are willing to compliment online resumes with additional information. Even more interesting to me is the finding that 68% of job seekers surveyed indicated that they are willing to provide personality profile information to compliment their resumes.
I believe this information clearly supports an “If you build it they will come” philosophy. All major corporations now use the web for recruiting and are demonstrating that they are amenable to the use of screening tools to help them add value to their online recruiting process. At the same time job seekers have indicated that they are willing to provide the type of information captured by the screening process. These are exactly the conditions needed to increase the use of online screening tools and further develop online screening tools. Trend 2: Successful online recruiting will rely on building ongoing relationships with candidates. By this I mean that the success of online recruiting efforts will be increasingly related to the use of tools for building relationships with users. Employers will find that maintaining communication with members of a target group representing an ideal candidate pool will require making a value proposition these persons. Offering job seekers information and services will help entice candidates to provide personal information to employers and help ensure they will make return visits to an employer’s career portal. Where are we now? The results of the same iLogos survey I referred to previously provide some support of the idea that job seekers expect the job search process to be a two way street. For instance:
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- This survey indicates that 99 of 100 job seekers expect some form of acknowledgement after applying online.
- This survey also indicates that 70% of respondents feel that information about company culture info is fundamental for career site visitors.
This information helps support the idea that job seekers want something in return for their efforts. While I don’t think that the importance of this idea has gone unnoticed by corporations, progress in this area has been slow, as many major employers are still figuring out the gory details of getting a good employment portal up and running. A focus on making meaningful value propositions to candidates will be an important next step as corporations seek to refine their portals in order to compete for talent to populate their ATS databases. The good news here is that there are an increasing number of tools that offer job seekers valuable information in return for their interest. Chief among these are online self-assessment/career guidance tools such as those provided by CareerWay and Assessment.com. These tools provide an excellent value proposition for the seeker because they help them to understand themselves in relation to a certain job or corporate culture. These tools also benefit employers because they provide a form of screening that can actually increase the quality of job placements by helping steer seekers towards jobs for which they are best suited. Providing access to these types of tools as part of a career portal will help develop the value proposition needed to build quality relationships with job seekers. I believe that the availability of self-assessment tools will not go unnoticed as employers begin to search for ways to begin providing something that will help them build stronger, longer lasting relationships with job seekers. Trend 3: Data from the recruitment and screening processes will become integrated. By this I mean that in order for online screening to gain acceptance, it has to be something that is easy for operational HR personnel (those asked to use the system on a daily basis) to use and understand. Without the support of the end users of the system, screening will not be able to gain the acceptance needed to help justify its expense. This means that it is only a matter of time until most screening tools will be integrated into ATS or candidate management systems in a manner that makes it simple for users to configure screening and interpret its results. Where are we now? I believe that this trend has gathered some serious momentum in the past year and will continue to do so as we move forward into 2002. For instance, this past year has seen the formation of a variety of relationships that are setting the stage for the implementation of the first truly integrated screening solutions. These relationships include PeopleClick’s partnership with DiscoverMe, Brassring’s partnership with ePredix, and DDI’s partnership with Recruitsoft. Additionally, companies such as Kenexa and AccuHire have developed their own proprietary systems capable of providing customers with the ability to add scientific screening to candidate management functionality. These partnerships/products will allow screening to gain increased popularity in several ways:
- Increasing the number of companies using screening due to the additional leverage of the ATS company’s brands and the use of their sales and marketing channels.
- Forcing screening become easy to use as ATS customers demand solutions that are easy to use by recruiters and hiring personnel.
- Allowing screening vendors to lower their prices due to volume gained by adding screening to enterprise hiring systems.
- Providing excellent opportunities to collect meaningful data from customers. This data will be critical for helping companies understand the ROI offered by screening and will help sell the need to fund the development of future screening systems.
Trend 4: Online recruiting and screening initiatives will be “Sticky” (i.e. entertain users). By this I mean that future screening tools will give back to users by providing an entertaining and engaging experience. Job seekers taking Internet-based employment tests are often asked to take extremely long assessments that are presented in an unimaginative way. Online screening will move away from this and will eventually involve a situation where the online screening process is entertaining and transparent to the job seeker. Where are we now? If you read my articles regularly you will know how strongly I feel about the development of entertaining screening tools. Although I think there is tremendous potential for the development of interesting and exciting screening tools, the amount of resources that must be applied to develop these tools is a serious stumbling block. The reality is that this trend will require progress in all of the other areas I have mentioned in this article before its expense can be justified. The news for this trend is not all bad however. There has been some interesting progress made with employment related games that helps underscore the potential for entertaining screening tools. When I was working at TMP I learned about a project developed to help a large consulting firm attract applicants to their career portal and entice them to apply for jobs. This project relied on various forms of advertising to entice job seekers to visit a website where they could solve an ongoing series of puzzles. Puzzle scores were not used to select applicants, but visitors to the site were given the message that if they enjoyed solving the problems presented on the site, they would also enjoy the types of problems faced when working for this company. This campaign was a wild success. Candidates were energized and excited about logging onto the site and playing the game, as a result they readily provided personal information that led to the firm greatly exceeding their hiring expectations. This initiative also took on a life of its own as candidates actually began to form their own online communities based on the types of puzzles they enjoyed solving. The end result was that this initiative created a powerful employment brand that enticed high quality candidates to form an ongoing relationship with the employer. Imagine the possibility of adding some form of scientific screening to this type of initiative. Not only do you have a powerful brand building recruiting tool, but you have a mechanism that will allow you to greatly increase the efficiency of the process used to match applicants with jobs. This is what I call a win-win situation. Conclusion I believe there is reason to be optimistic about the future of online screening. There is increasing evidence that indicates that job seekers are willing spend more time and effort in the job searching process as long as they are able to feel that they are receiving something in return for their time. As corporations evolve their online recruiting practices, they will begin to understand the importance of using screening tools to help engage job seekers as well as the value screening adds to their hiring process. This situation should lead to the collection of data that will be essential for the continued development of screening tools.