Seize Their Moment: Think Beyond the Candidate Experience Status Quo

Seize Their Moment: Think Beyond the Candidate Experience Status Quo

Mike Roberts

Even today when the number of unfilled positions in the U.S. is at a record high, candidates still have this expectation that the job search process will be drawn out and frustrating. The issue is, improving candidate experience doesn’t seem to be a priority for talent acquisition professionals, mainly because many aren’t even aware of what it’s like to apply for one of their own positions.

The next chapter in our “Seize Their Moment” series looks into more of the challenges our fictional characters, Nick and Zoey, face as they go deeper into the job search process. Nearly all of the difficulties these two candidates experience are a result of large organizations sticking with the status quo. Keep that in mind as you read through their stories.

Also, if you’re heading to HR Tech this October, don’t forget to swing by the Jibe booth to see Nick and Zoey in action.

Chapter 4: A Weekend Dedicated to Applying


Nick didn’t hear much after applying to his “ideal” companies. Aside from a few auto-reply emails that said something like “Due to the volume of responses, we may not be able to respond to each applicant individually on the status of your resume,” only one recruiter had reached out to him. It turned out the position he was interested in had just been filled, but there was a similar opening in Vermont. He had no interest in moving there.

He considered waiting to hear from the other eight companies. However, Henry Wilson, a colleague at work privy to Nick’s disdain for his boss, shared some sage advice. He said, “There are no sure things in the job search process. Even if you think you’re definitely going to get the job, you should keep applying and interviewing at other places until it’s final. Best case scenario, you can get two offers and pit the companies against each other.”

That advice made sense to Nick, so the following weekend, he decided to dedicate both days off to searching for a new job—a weekend that would ultimately result in 23 submitted applications.

But those submissions hadn’t come without Nick experiencing a gauntlet of frustration as a result of dealing with a number of different Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in the process. Two distinct experiences stood out.

First, after applying for a handful of jobs on Saturday morning, Nick found an analytics manager position at a large financial services company, so he hit the apply button and was then navigated to the standard ATS login screen. He had seen this exact login screen while applying for the previous job at a different company, with the same ATS branding, so he put in the same login credentials from before.

It didn’t work. He tried to retrieve his password information, but the ATS said he had never created an account. This was confusing, until Nick realized that the company was using the same apply software as the last job he applied to, and it looked identical. After five minutes of wasted time, he created a new login and then let out a huge sigh realizing he would have to input all of his employment history again.

Second, when Nick decided it was time for a change of scenery, he took his iPad to Starbucks to continue the search there. He found a job he was interested in and started applying. It was another drab-looking and long application, and to make matters worse, it wasn’t optimized for mobile. After fifteen minutes of filling in the same information he’d been filling in all day, an old college friend interrupted him.

Nick cringed at the thought of stopping the application but didn’t want to be rude, so he quickly searched for some way to save his progress. It wasn’t possible. He talked to his friend for a while, and when he opened the webpage back up ten minutes later, his session had timed out.

He never tried to apply there again.


Not having a computer to use during her job search was proving to be a bigger problem than Zoey had originally expected. As someone who had been online shopping for the past decade, doing most of it from a smartphone, it only seemed natural that the experience of applying to a job would be just as seamless. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. And taking care of her mother while working 9-to-14-hour shifts wasn’t helping.

Since the start of her job search, she had only been able to submit four applications from her smartphone. That’s four out of 12. Most attempts ended with a prompt telling her she’d need to complete the application from a PC. Because she was a mobile-only internet user, she didn’t have a desktop computer. And buying one was out of the question, due to all of her money being consumed by the costs of New York.

She explained the problem to her mother one day while heading home on the train after a physical therapy session. Like Zoey, her mother was also a mobile-only internet user, having just got her very first iPhone last year, so she couldn’t offer much help. That is, until she looked down at the book she was holding. “I’ve got an idea.” her mother said with excitement, “You can use the computers at my library in Queens.”

Later that week, not overly joyed by the idea of spending her day off inside and having to cancel plans with a friend, Zoey cursed her phone as she traveled to the library.

When she got there, she logged into her email account and completed four applications that required a desktop. She was faced with a mix of good and bad apply experiences, but it was all clouded by the fact that she was sitting in a dusty, smelly old library.

For five straight hours, Zoey applied to more jobs. As is the case with most marathon online job searches, toward the end she started applying to anything that seemed to remotely fit the description. She often started her search in Google with a query like “retail management jobs queens,” but seemed to always end up in a job board, which then navigated her to a career site or apply flow. Nothing really stood out.

Just when she was getting ready to give up, she came across one Google search result from Lacy’s, a clothing chain with a store in Queens, that went to the actual website rather than a job board. She clicked it and was presented with a beautiful landing page, full of colors and pictures, and in big letters it said “Life At Lacy’s.” It seemed like a place that really cared about work-life balance.

Having had enough of the library, Zoey checked to see if it was possible to apply to Lacy’s via a smartphone. It was, and the apply flow had a much more consumer-like look and feel to it than most of the other big corporate ones she’d seen.

She applied during her bus ride home.

Subscribe to the Jibe blog to get notified about the next chapter in Nick and Zoey’s journey.

Interested in learning more about what it takes to build a modern candidate experience? Check out our new “9-Point Checklist for Building a Next-Generation Candidate Experience.”

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