In searching for its own employees, SmashFly is dabbling in “early admittance” — something many of us have seen done similarly in the college-admission process, but not in recruiting.
Michael Hennessy, SmashFly CEO, and Tracey Parsons, director of the recruitment marketing practice, came up with the idea a couple of months ago. The two wanted to showcase the company as one doing innovative recruiting for its own workforce, something that will help impress potential customers at the same time.
(The company is very successful and growing fast, approximately doubling in a year.)
The result is that some job descriptions have been labeled with “early admittance,” a designation saying this:
This is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself before we officially open this position. We both know, the more time we have to get to know each other, the better the chance for a great match on both sides, so let’s get started!
With our Early Admittance jobs, we’re changing the rules. Register now, tell us about yourself, drop off your resume and put yourself at the at the top of the list. We guarantee all Early Admittance candidates are reviewed and responded to before any others when the job is officially opened. This is only available on these Early Admittance jobs!
And because we have time before the position officially opens, we may ask to learn more about your specific skills, or ask you to provide a video introduction about your background. We’ll also offer you the ability to ask questions of us and we’ll respond within 48 hours.
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I asked some folks what they thought. Jennifer Davis, VP of talent acquisition for Epsilon, says she has “never seen anybody do this.” Her jury is still out as to whether it works, such as how well SmashFly is able to uphold the 48-hour window for getting back to people’s questions and how it replies to candidates, but she thinks it’s at least a good idea. (Says a SmashFly spokesperson: “we haven’t received any (questions) yet, but when we do, the applicant will hear from someone within 48 hours.”)
David Barlaam, a global talent talent-acquisition leader who has been with Royal Caribbean, Lubrizol, and Cooper Industries, isn’t opposed to the idea, but says if you try using the program in your own company, it could wrongly give the impression you are desperate for resumes. Also, he says, a company trying something like this might, instead of promising any early applicants special treatment, provide special treatment to those the company most wants, almost like a rock band’s fan club that gets early access or special access.
Meanwhile, Rob Dromgoole, director of talent acquisition at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said he’s concerned that all the applicants, early or not, fall into the same pool and thus aren’t treated all that differently in the end; “a job is open or it isn’t,” he says, “it’s a gimmick to allude to some special status which doesn’t exist … it’s snake oil.”
Over time, if SmashFly thinks it’s all a success, it’ll likely recommend some customers try it too. For now, Parsons says, the “opt-in rate” is not higher for the early admission jobs, no one has yet been hired under the program, and hiring managers don’t report better candidate quality among the early-admission posts. Importantly, the quality isn’t lower, either.
What has boosted interest in SmashFly jobs is last fall’s rewriting of its job descriptions, which increased click rates tremendously.