Seize Their Moment: Looking Back On Nick and Zoey’s Candidate Journey

Seize Their Moment: Looking Back On Nick and Zoey’s Candidate Journey

Mike Roberts

73% of all job searches now start on Google. The career site was the top source of hire in 2014. Last year, 45% of job seekers used their mobile device to search for jobs at least once a day. 8 in 10 candidates are likely to use social media in their job search today. We could go on, but you get the idea—the internet and mobility have changed the job search process forever. Question is, are you prepared for that?

Over the past six weeks, we’ve been sharing the story of our fictional characters, Nick and Zoey. Although Nick and Zoey may not be real, they likely represent some of your typical job seekers, and through them, we set out to demonstrate the new candidate journey. The new candidate journey is an internet-first, mobile-forward way of finding a job—how today’s job seekers find, learn about, and apply to your positions.

In case you missed some of the posts, or you’re just now learning about Nick and Zoey, you can read through their stories here. And in this post, we’re going to recap their journeys from start to finish, highlighting a few takeaways. Don’t forget, Nick and Zoey will be at HRTech—live and in person—so stop by the Jibe booth to say hello.


A so-called “Purple Squirrel,” Nick was hired directly from his internship and then promoted more than once in just a few years. Everything was going great at Rapid Financial, until an acquisition introduced a new, overbearing supervisor into the situation. Vance Jones was attempting to micromanage Nick into the ground, and it didn’t take long for Nick to have his moment—“I need a new job.”

Like most job seekers today, Nick’s job search started on Google. He searched for “top tech companies to work for.” Considering that he was the ideal candidate, he figured he’d have the pick of the crop. That is, until he actually got into a career site and its ATS search and apply experience. His first attempt at finding a job was meant with an ATS that timed out, leaving him frustrated enough to abandon the process and tweet about it.

Nick’s next attempt at applying was a little more tactical. He made a list of every company he wanted to work for based on their Glassdoor rating and other factors. It was at this point he started experiencing the gauntlet of the job search process—the good, the bad, and the ugly of candidate experience. The one company he really wanted to apply to didn’t have any open positions, but he had the option to opt-into job alerts.

Some time passed and Nick hadn’t heard anything. He knew he was fit for just about any job he’d applied to, but all he heard was crickets. His friend told him to continue applying in the meantime, so he did that weekend. After applying to a bunch more jobs, the unbranded and outdated ATS experiences were all starting to blur into one. His progress was halted when he timed out of his second application that day. He called it quits.

Finally, a recruiter reached out to Nick. He read through her email and then looked up the company. Unfortunately, it only had 2 out of 5 stars in its employer rating, and it didn’t even have a Twitter account. He deleted the email. Desperate, Nick decided to apply once more on his bus ride home from his phone. He went through an entire application, but got an error when he tried to submit it. At that point he decided to give up.

Not hearing much in the previous few weeks, Nick didn’t have any hope left. He was just going to continue working for his oppressive boss for the time being. That is, until he received an email from his favorite company. It was a job alert he’d signed up for five weeks prior. A position had become available that morning and he applied right away. Nick got the interview, and as it turns out, the job came to him.

Although Nick is a fictional character, his story represents the new candidate journey—an internet-first, mobile-forward way of finding opportunities, learning about employers, and applying for jobs. The candidate journey is no longer linear. Attracting the best talent in 2016 and beyond will take more than a good job board strategy. The first step is to put yourself in your job seekers’ shoes. What’s it like to go through your own candidate experience?


There’s something to be said for people who can regularly do their job well, and step up to do more whenever needed. This is how any manager would describe Zoey. She’s as dedicated as she is hardworking. After her mother was in a car accident, she moved back to Queens to help her recover, only to find herself working for a company that could care less about work-life balance. This is how she entered into the job search process.

Zoey was traveling from her job at a department store in Manhattan to her mother’s physical therapy sessions in Queens three to four times per week. It made her tired for the first few days, but after several months of that back and forth she was exhausted. It was taking an emotional and physical toll on her that could only (hopefully) be rectified with a new job.

As part of a growing population of mobile-only internet users, Zoey planned to conduct her job search from her iPhone—just as she’d bought things online or ordered an Uber in recent years. She hadn’t had a PC for quite some time, and didn’t see any reason to get one. Through no fault of her own, however, this turned out to be one of her greatest obstacles in the job search process.

Zoey came to learn quickly, few companies supported the option to apply for jobs on mobile, and most of the ones that did offered a lackluster user experience. In many cases, she’d either get an error message or a prompt to finish the application from a desktop computer. Considering that she didn’t have immediate access to a computer, this was turning out to be a big problem.

Despite being tired already from working and helping her mother, the challenge with not being able to apply on mobile led her to a weekend in the library. She had to use a community PC just to apply for a job when she could have been resting. What’s worse, a few weeks later she actually paid to use a PC at an internet café. She was more than qualified for many positions, though, the outdated mobile experience (or lack thereof) offered by too many companies was a major barrier.

After almost two months, Zoey finally heard back from three different recruiters. Her difficult journey represents the experience many people have who are mobile-only internet users. Companies are essentially removing them from their candidate pool, simply because they’re following strategies that worked in the past. Continuing on that path is a recipe for getting overlooked by more and more qualified and talented job seekers as time goes on.

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