As we walked around at Personal Hungary HR exhibition it became clear that the job market presence of Generation Y and Z are one of the most urgent matters for HR experts. Inspired by the lectures, we started our mini-series on the recruitment of the generations in focus. In the previous part, we discussed the interconnectivity of employer branding and recruitment. Partly based on the Generation Y applicant experience from our previous article, now we expand on how to make the most of the available software solutions and online platforms.
It is not even a matter in question any more that a job post should be online, especially if Generation Y and Z is targeted. As mentioned in the previous article, I never ventured beyond online territory when searching for a job. Most of this search happened on mobile-friendly job portals and recruitment posts on social media, as public transportation proved ideal for browsing job offers, especially when travelling home from the work I wished to leave behind.
My personal experience is reaffirmed by the statistics. A region-specific survey showed that an average member of Generation Y spends more than 4 hours online per day; and Generation Z is online almost six hours daily. According to the survey, Generation Y primarily uses laptops to access online platforms (42%), but Generation Z prefers smartphones. Surveys conducted in Hungary and in the USA indicate the still-leading position of Facebook among social media sites, while also showing that Instagram enjoys great popularity among younger users. The first survey focuses on the number of users per social media site, whereas the second one studied generational social media preferences.
Many companies see the potential in a Facebook business page not only as a tool to reach customers, but as a channel for employer branding and to share open positions. This strategy can convert loyal followers of the brand into ideal employees. Akin to Facebook market places, job sharing groups are flourishing. Ads spreading on the popular social media site are likely to operate with trendy images, GIFs and videos. With a good reason, of course, as Y and Z communication is embedded in visuality. Some of my favorite examples are created by Artificial Group, attracting new employees with fresh and clean imagery that blends into the company’s style.
Source: Artificial Group Facebook page
The above, eye-catching examples would fit well to an Instagram profile. Nonetheless, fewer companies explore the recruiting possibilities of Insta compared to Facebook. Even those who consider a company Insta profile as strategically important and may use it for employer branding, are often reluctant to post about job openings. It is not true for all, though, as larger companies and some adventurous small businesses jumped on the opportunity quite a while ago. (Among others, Undercover Recruiter published a great collection of Insta job posts including useful tips.)
The lack of text on Instagram might account for the slight reluctance on the part of employers to adopt the platform for recruitment. In the previous part we emphasized the importance of a well-written, honest job description. Textual content has a better place on Facebook. It is possible to squeeze a detailed description under the picture on Instagram, but it is far from elegant. In this case, the post should not aim to inform exhaustively, but to draw attention to the opening. So, it is enough to include a link directing to the job description on your website and some carefully chosen hashtags.
A link can do the trick on Facebook or any other social media instead of the “apply on the given email address” strategy. This practice has quite a few advantages. Directing applicants straight to your website builds trust, as they are encouraged to collect information about the company. It also leads to valuable statistics that identify the platforms and ads that return more job applications, driving educated adjustments of recruitment and branding strategies.
In an ideal case, all of the above links help candidates land on the user interface of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) on the company’s career page. This channel provides a more organized and transparent recruitment process for both the applicant and HR professionals. No CV will get lost in the blackhole called spam folder, no-one will be accidentally missed from the answer list. The applicant won’t forget about the ad either, as it won’t land among many other posts saved for later application via e-mail.
Communicating as a Company
In our previous article we highlighted the importance of correct, quick, and frequent communication with every applicant. This sounds fairly simple until one faces a hundred applicants per position, when an intention to send each applicant even a brief “yes” or “no” demands an HR army. With such numbers it’s a miracle if no applicant remains accidentally unspotted. Hence the prudence in receiving applications through an ATS instead of a simple digital post box. ATS does not only make the recruiting process more organized and effective, but it also assists in messaging. Consequently, the invested time and energy can be reduced to a carefully-constructed text and some clicks. The resultant benefit is worth the effort.
Ideally, the first feedback is sent as soon as the application arrives. A typical member of Generation Y (including me) and Z uses Messenger, WhatsApp or a similar chat program as one of the major means of communication. This type of communication makes the user eager for immediate feedback. The lack of it triggers anxiety. An automated message can negate apprehensions and keep the applicant pool reassured that no technical error occurred, the contact details were correctly recorded, and the CV reached the desired destination.
Adapting the response speed of chat apps is enough for a Gen Y and Z-compatible communication. On the other hand, integrating the apps in the recruitment process and to the ATS may have as many cons as pros. While the generations in focus are likely to use chat apps not only for personal, but business communication as well, conversations taking place on such platforms are less transparent, less organized and less easy to search than email.
After timing and platform are set, we can turn towards the content. Here comes the first temptation, a generic response: let’s get over with this round with a short “thank you for your application”, maybe “our colleague will be in contact with you shortly”. Well, a good first impression may necessitate a bit more effort in wording. The note sent to the applicant should be congruent with the employer brand, the style consistent with that of the communication taking place in any other company channel.
“Shortly” and “soon” should be exiled from the vocabulary, as they equal to “never” for many. It’s better to inform the candidate about the planned finishing date of the pre-filtering stage instead. The eager candidate will have a date to hold on to. It stands a good chance that he or she will adjust the next job post browsing accordingly, and continue the search only after the given deadline, especially if it’s close. If the pre-filtering stage is delayed for any reason (for example flu sabotages the efforts), another note can be sent to inform the applicants in a manner and extent that fits to the company image.
Planning the recruitment stages in advance is a piece of cake with an ATS in place. Detailed statistics about previous recruitments are a tremendous help in estimating the time necessary for each stage. The finishing date of the pre-filtering stage can be included in the automated first message as it is already known at the time of posting the position.
Candidates who don’t make it to the next round are often neglected and may easily end up with nothing in the inbox. Such treatment of any applicant is a hazard for the employer brand in this age of social media and Glassdoor, as each candidate forms an unofficial company image and there are way more candidates rejected than selected. Multiple negative reviews and rants could easily harm a brand. A polite “no” (which can be reused in every selection process) is better than nothing; and it takes only 4-5 clicks no matter how many people are informed at once.
After pre-filtering, as the selection progresses, more personalized feedback can benefit the employer brand and the long term human resources. This still does not mean you need to write every individual a custom email, when there are still plenty of applicants on the short-list. A sophisticated ATS enables HR professionals to add the reasons of rejection to each unselected candidate using granular categories. This feature helps to customize emails to each candidate group, to inform them that for the applied position improving their language skills or gaining more experience is essential (or even let them know if there is a more fitting position open). The candidate will be grateful for the feedback, and may even return for the next opening as the ideal candidate, now armed with the requisite skillset.
ATS can shorten the selection process as it helps to access all necessary information easily in a well-organized fashion, while it also reduces monotonous tasks. It would take an entire article to explore all the possibilities in an ATS to optimize the recruiting workflow. From the employer-branding angle, it is enough to say that selection can be more effective and less time-consuming. The company can acquire a reputation as an efficient team and a caring employer even during recruitment. Besides, competitors will have no time to spot and entice your increasingly committed top applicants.
Energy invested wisely into recruitment and candidate selection brings great benefits in the long run. Every carefully crafted job post appearing on the well-chosen social media sites adds to the employer brand. Positive applicant experience will spread on forums, on blogs, via influencers and find its way to Generation Y and Z job-seekers. The “popular employer” status will be reflected in both the number and the quality of the applicants.