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Dimondale, Michigan, United States
My passion is workforce development! I've been actively networking with Lansing professionals over the past year - trying to build relationships with employers and job seekers alike. I would like to see talented folks get connected with businesses that are looking for them. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @tiffenator

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How Online Applications Should Be

Technology has been both a blessing and a curse to both job seekers and employers. Before recruiters had Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), they would have to sort through hundreds or even thousands of resumes by hand to determine who was going to make the cut. Thanks to ATS, recruiters are able to do quick keyword searches and pull resumes from job applicants.

Job seekers on the other hand are not always as excited about online applications due to some of them being so lengthy and time consuming. Some may take a while to setup, but make it extremely easy to apply multiple times for other positions within the same company. Others require you to fill out all of your information, take personality tests and do allow you an option to save any of your information for future use. It is lengthy and drawn out applications that discourage job seekers and leave the human resources departments of these companies scratching their heads as to why they can’t find the “perfect” candidate.

One of the best ATS that I have encountered from a job seeker’s point of view is that for the State of Michigan. At first glance, this ATS seems a bit daunting because it requires you to enter all of your information into its database. However, once that is completed you are free to apply to other jobs when you want. The really best feature about this system is the fact that you can upload multiple documents – resumes, cover letters, transcripts, college degrees, letters of recommendation, certificates, licenses, etc. Some jobs will require you to include a cover letter, writing assignment or other pre-screening documents. If you don’t include it, you are automatically screened out. The largest pitfall with this ATS is that you must review the qualifications and ensure that you are including all of the pertinent data that is being requested. Another great ATS are those affiliated with Taleo, examples include Jackson National Life Insurance and Toys R Us/Babies R Us websites.

 The ideal online application would:

  1. Save your profile – while it may take a while to complete an online profile, at least it is there for when another job opportunity arises and you can simply submit to it. A great example of this is for EmploymentGroup where you can simply hit the “Apply Now” button to submit your profile to openings. 
  2. Allow you to upload various documents – this will give you an option to include college transcripts, professional certifications, letters of recommendations, licenses, etc. 
  3. Doesn’t ask subjective screening questions – don’t ask odd questions like “what type of flower would you be and why?” These odd questions can be used further in should they be necessary during the interview. Screening questions may be necessary, but keep them relevant to the job at hand. 
  4. Encourage entry-level candidates to apply – entry level college graduates need to have a chance to prove themselves and it’s hard to find employment when the mandatory screening questions demand three to five years of professional paid experience. College students often times have real work experience to offer with the soft skills that employers are crying out for. However, due to the fact they only have unpaid internships or very minimal paid experience, employers screen them out without a second thought. As a result, companies cry out because they are unable to fill their positions because they only want somebody who can “hit the ground running” and doesn't require extensive training. 
  5. Offer a follow up option – when candidates apply, they often are unable to ever contact anyone who works for the company. One way to circumnavigate this is to network your way in and learn who is on the recruiting team, but if you are unable to penetrate the company this will not work. How can you follow up with the company or ask the status of your application? A simple “contact us” button would be great to compose an email to the Human Resources department and ask where you stand on the job you applied for.  
Employers need to be aware of what job seekers are looking for in their online applications and should pursue companies such as Taleo to provide them with options job seekers desire. Job seekers need to ensure that they are checking back regularly on employers’ career pages. This will allow them to keep an eye on new opportunities and have updated information.

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