‘Sometimes you’ve got to speak to the wrong people to find the right people’
When Smart Technology Isn’t Smart Enough
There’s been much discussion recently on innovation, of getting ourselves ready for disruption and the challenges ahead, but what happens when that disruption comes from your candidates? What happens when your technology just isn’t smart enough? What happens when your processes just aren’t ready for innovation you seek?
Standing Out From The Crowd
Let me relate a recent experience I had whilst recruiting a Marketing & Communications Advisor role, it may explain. Going through the traditional method of job board placement (a few of you may shudder – BUT here in Perth Australia, it’s still a good source in the current economic climate) I requested ‘innovative, stand out from the crowd applications’. This was after all a Marketing & Communications position. My expectations were high. The results have been pretty disappointing in terms of creativity, and stand out from the crowd type applications. Of the 70+ applications the 3 that stood out for me were;
Applicant 1: The Online Bio/Resume
Simply provided a cover letter outlining their experience with a link to their On-line Bio/Resume. The website was excellent. Simple, Creative, Concise. The resume itself was standard format.
Applicant 2: The Prezi Profile
Whilst they applied traditionally, submitting a resume with cover letter they followed up with a connection request via LinkedIn providing a link to their Prezi profile. I had not seen Prezi previously, however it’s similar to ResumUp. I really liked the look and feel of this representation of someone’s career.
Applicant 3: The Gamified Resume
This is the cracker and I’m coining it ‘Applicant Gamification’. I returned to work Monday morning to find a shovel with a note attached placed next to my desk. The note outlined instructions with regards to what to do next. My initial reaction was that someone within our company was playing a belated April’s fool joke on me. I was informed that it was in fact an application for the position. Applicant 3 had taken the initiative, buried their application outside of our premises prior to the weekend, left a shovel with instructions for me to dig it up. It was buried one metre from a power pole, in an empty part of a garden bed.
So despite asking for an innovative approach, these three applicants raised questions.
- How can our applicant tracking systems capture and index this data? How does it become searchable?
- How can applicants ‘stand out from the crowd’ when our applicant tracking systems only allow pdf, doc attachments? Sure you can apply with LinkedIn or Facebook but beyond this?
- What do you do when someone’s innovative approach actually throws up additional challenges?
For both Applicants 1 & 2, they both provided documents which could easily be indexed and searched on our ATS. However their innovation sat outside of the ATS. Had there been no link, no follow up, then we would have never seen this creativity. It would not have been acknowledged appropriately. By acknowledgement I mean a personal thank you for thinking outside the square, not the automated response our systems dish up like a fast food outlet. Don’t get me started on automated responses.
Impressed…But It’s Complicated
Applicant 3. I’m still impressed to this day, it would have to be the most innovative application I have ever received in my recruitment career to date. I think I told almost every hiring manager in the business, or was asked by everyone visiting me that day what the shovel was for. I did call the applicant upon digging it up to personally thank them for the creativity. I did however have a big hurdle to overcome.
As a mining contractor, safety is the number one value and priority for our business. The location of the buried application was a concern. I was not wearing appropriate safety attire to dig it up. Did the applicant take the appropriate safety measures prior to burying the application? Does it detract from their application as many questions are raised as to their understanding of the industry sector which your company works? How do I upload their resume into the system so that it is indexed appropriately (I’m not asking the applicant to resubmit their application). Most ATS are not able to read a scanned image unless it’s a readable document.
When Innovation And Process Collide
We can talk all we want about the innovative things we are going to do with our careers sites, our content strategy, and our attraction methods, but in the end, without the smart systems in place to capture the information applicants are sending us, it all falls down. I’ve talked about gamification of the recruitment process, but I never imagined that I’d end up digging up someones application. We just can’t predict what the future of recruitment will hold.
Much like ourselves, applicants are adapting with technology, they too are becoming more and more innovative in their quest to secure highly competitive roles. Perhaps it’s finally time to start looking at our processes, and asking ourselves if they will be able to handle innovation when it’s thrown at us, and if not, why not not? Because when life hands you a shovel, you better know what to do with it.
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