Online Screening: The Reality of Jobseeker Behavior

It is interesting that prescreening has been the focus of much recent discussion. While not a new concept, the active examination of prescreening’s advantages and tools presuppose three basic tenets:

  1. Automated prescreening occurs through the careers section of the corporate website. Therefore, this discussion acknowledges that the corporate website can and should be the center for recruiting and candidate data-gathering activities.
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  3. Regardless of whether it is “scientific” or “non-scientific,” prescreening automated through the corporate careers website can supplant an inefficient traditional recruiting process with a more efficient, effective practice enabled by the power of new technologies.
  4. To effectively utilize prescreening, it takes front-end features that are tightly integrated with robust back-end data-processing functionality.

But even with well-elucidated coverage of prescreening’s potential, there are still skeptics among us. Reservations about adoption stem from a variety of concerns – including a lingering, generalized discomfort with technology, a poor understanding of the applicability and advantages of automated prescreening in a recruiting process, and a lack of confidence in jobseeker acceptance of a recruiter-driven, question-based process. Perception of Jobseeker Behavior To date, conversation has revolved around the corporate recruiter’s practices. Implementation issues such as configuration have dominated. Indeed, the recruiter’s platform must be understood and education around it is both needed and welcome. But still, commentary has not covered the issues around jobseeker behavior that are equally significant. After all, the jobseekers are the first users; their buy-in is essential in order for automated prescreening to succeed. Let’s take a look at the jobseeker’s side of this. A common inquiry is, “Will jobseekers answer skills-based questions?” In fact, this is often posed with a negative perception already in place. The expectation seems to be that jobseekers will not be participants in their share of the automated prescreening equation. This perception has caused hesitation among some who are considering automated prescreening. It has also provided an excuse for those who are not enthusiastic about automated prescreening practices either because of deficiency in their technology tools, or limited vision. Survey Says… This perception is a misperception! In a survey of more than 1,500 visitors to the careers websites of four Fortune 500 companies, iLogos Research found that the reality is a large majority (88%) of jobseekers are willing to answer questions and provide information about their skills. Jobseekers, it seems, welcome the opportunity to embrace the expanded functionality of new Internet recruiting technology to improve communication with corporate recruiters. They want to utilize self-service Internet resources to hasten the process of matching themselves with the right job opportunity. Time to Apply A frequent corollary to the issue of whether jobseekers will answer questions is, “How much time will candidates spend to apply online?” The implied concern here is that the Web is a “click and go on” medium and careers website visitors will be repelled when applications call for detailed and lengthy responses. Here again, the survey data is unequivocal. According to the iLogos Research study “Perception vs. Reality: Jobseeker Behavior Online,” 92% of candidates are willing to spend more than six minutes applying online to a job of high interest. Sixty percent of candidates are willing to spend more than 15 minutes applying online to a job of high interest! (Perhaps those who are deterred are not serious candidates to begin with?) Know the Reality To fully understand and make decisions about the use of recruiting technologies, it is imperative to be educated about the realities that impact implementation and application viability. In the case of automated prescreening through the corporate careers website, both the practices of the corporate recruiter and the jobseeker must be considered. Decisions should be based in realities – on primary data, high-quality information, and a clear view of all aspects. The reality of survey data cited here provides a strong case for not underestimating corporate careers website jobseekers. Their willingness to engage in a prescreening process, in conjunction with the advantages of automated prescreening for the corporation, should encourage all corporate recruiters to closely examine the application of prescreening to their recruiting process. Make sure the corporate careers website is optimized to use Internet recruiting technology to achieve the most efficient and effective recruiting…based on reality, not on perception.

Alice Snell is vice president of Taleo Research. The specialty research practice analyzes the best practices and economics of talent management. Taleo Research focuses on critical issues and key trends in talent management that impact organizational performance. Taleo Research is the strategic research division of Taleo, which provides on demand talent management solutions for organizations of all sizes, worldwide.

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5 Comments on “Online Screening: The Reality of Jobseeker Behavior

  1. Alice makes some very valid points where “active job seekers” are concerned. My instincts tell me that a person actively pursuing a new position will spend as much time as necessary and answer numerous job specific questions for an opportunity of “high interest.”

    What about a person that is not actively pursuing a new position? They may be intrigued by a firm’s employment branding enough to take a closer look at openings that match up with their particular field. Would this highly sought after “passive” person whose motivation is primarily curiosity, spend more than 15 minutes filling out forms and answering pointed questions?

    I’m not questioning iLogos’ polling data, but I wonder how many of their 1,500 respondents were individuals that were recently layed off, or about to be, and were eager to do what it took to land their next job (active job seeker). It would be great to find out the percentage of “passive” job seekers that said they would devote that much effort to meet their casual career curiosity. My experience tells me that there probably weren’t many, but I would love to be proven wrong.

    K.C Donovan
    HireScience

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  2. Excellent article. However, the entire debate around applicant screening is premised on one notion–that employers/recruiters must rely upon what the applicant tells them. In fact, it appears that the entire premise of job sites is that applicants are screened based upon what an applicant says about themselves. Job boards and e-recruiting systems utilize “screening” as just another way to slice, dice and regurgitate in different ways what applicants say. There is no independent, third party verification. The only true screening occurs well into the interview and selection process, when a firm can utilize background screening, reference checks, and various testing that is available. By that time, a firm has spent time and money that may well be wasted.

    What is needed is a true human capital database, consisting of the independently verified credentials (i.e. job history, education and licenses) of candidates. There is a firm that will be introducing software and services that will be the first to attempt such a human capital database, so that eventually, independently pre-verified credentials will be as easy to obtain as a credit report is currently. At that point, the whole discussion about screening may well shift, since verified, hard data will be available on large scale.

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  3. I agree with KC on this one. If a candidate is not looking for a job (real passive), or if the person is a hot candidate and looking, they don’t need to spend time taking an on-line test. You have to have a very compelling job to convince a top person to apply on-line. Most jobs that are described on corporate web sites are often too difficult to find to begin with, and once found, are pretty average. If a person needs a job, they’ll do anything to get considered. Until this issue is resolved on-line screening will preclude the best from even applying.

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  4. I agree this sounds good in theory, but in practice, it is an entirely different matter. For example, past employers (who ought to be a great source of information) are often reluctant to say much because of the threat of lawsuit. Past managers are often swayed by personal bias and personal skills. The competency requirements of jobs are seldom understood and people often get praised/punished for things outside their control. Credit records and police files may provide valid data if it is relevent to job requirements (providing they are accurate and not intentionally discriminatory). Finally, it is very hard to assess a person’s motivational drivers, mental ability, planning skills, etc,. without some kind of formalized (accurate and unbiased) measurment system.

    This type of data base is difficult enough to build internally, let alone develop an external database of applicant skills. It always sounds good in practice — but after a few years’ experience it all becomes an exercise in wishful thinking. Of course, you don’t have to belive this, but then you can always re-discover what experts in the field have already learned.

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  5. There is no question in my mind that the point Dr. Williams makes is accurate. Based on his past articles explaining the need for efficient and validated testing measures of the four skill domains to make an appropriate hiring decision. It would certainly be utopian to expect that we could develop a central repository of individual skills and abilities, particularly from data that is submitted by a third party source or the individual themselves.

    Ah, but to dream…perhaps there is a better way to skin the cat! If there can ever be an agreed upon universal profile developed by the HR Consortium, this would be a big first step. It may also be possible to develop an Employment Bureau to maintain these profiles, and the Bureau could have a group of researchers that could verify the profile data from a company, title, date employed standpoint. Forget about skills or ability rankings; just think of the privacy debate for that! Yet this type of verification process with a ?just the facts? viewpoint would surely improve the credibility of a candidate, and their resume will finally be looked at for what it really is ? a chief marketing tool.

    The industry could then really begin to get their assessment act together employing the appropriate measures to discover the best candidate for the best position. Employee productivity will increase, the economy will begin to hit on all cylinders again, and we will all have more work than we want.

    …heading out to JFK Airport in NYC there is an exit for a place called Utopia ? one of these days I really need to take that exit…

    K.C Donovan
    HireScience

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