Wash Away The Pain?

Wash Away The Pain?

Mike Roberts

Can we talk about candidate experience for a minute? This is something we absolutely shouldn’t have to talk about it anymore, but clearly do. I’m reminded once again, this time by one Mr. Matt Charney, that many companies still haven’t taken this whole candidate experience thing seriously. In his piece, “Black Hole Sun: Experiencing the Experience,” Matt documents his own horrifying journey posing as a candidate trying to apply for a position with G6 Hospitality.


All pretense aside, I’m mostly putting this post together so I can get .gif and image happy with Soundgarden, one of my favorite bands from back in the day. Sorry, I was a teenager in Seattle in the 90s. I can’t help it.  

First of all, please remember that Matt is doing all this from a desktop/laptop computer. So as you read through, just imagine how exponentially more difficult it would’ve been had he tried to apply from his phone. (by the way, here’s what a good mobile apply experience looks like) 

After taking a few shots (mostly valid) at some in the vendor community, Matt starts things off by suggesting that recruiters actually go through their own apply process…

“Speaking of common sense, you would not believe how many recruiters haven’t audited their own application process or even had the curiosity to try applying for their own jobs. When you suggest that this might make sense, most will act as if this is the most astonishing thing that they have ever heard.”

We find this often on the mobile front. Nine times out of 10 when we ask someone if they’ve ever tried to apply to their own company from their phone, they haven’t. And when they do, they’re horrified. Again, it could (and should) look like this.

After some good old Google, and a sidestep around paid search, Matt finds a position that fits his profile well enough on CareerBuilder.

“It was for a Senior Manager, Internal Communications, for a company called G6 Hospitality. I clicked over to the job description, and noticed that G6 must have paid CareerBuilder a pretty penny, because they’d bought the package with the fully branded job descriptions.”

So G6 added some branded spice to its job ads in order to draw job seekers in… “come in, it’s employment nirvana here… you’ll love it… see how pretty our ads our, so is our company… you’ll see…” (and yes, we’re carrying the Soundgarden theme all way through to the end on this one) 

Alright, so then what happens Matt?

“So, at last, I get over to the job description, having made the decision to apply and… I hit this sexy little landing page. Notice the clean, minimalist design that tells me I either need credentials or to create an account just to see the job description on their website. The one I just saw before clicking over. WTF? But, whatever. I decide I’ll create an account.”


So much for carrying the splashy branding element through the entire application process. And so much for making it easy to get right into the application. I would’ve already moved on at this point, but for the sake of research, Matt presses on.

“Mind you, I haven’t even applied for the job yet, but simply to register for the privilege of submitting a resume I’ll never hear back on, I still have to provide my personal information, including e-mail, phone number and THE LAST FOUR DIGITS OF MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.”


I’m sorry, what??

Yeah, I’d be so gone right now. But Matt continues, and is forced through a multitude of forms and legalese from the provider of this particular applicant tracking system he’s now registered into. It not only took him a long time to get through all these hoops, but I believe he had to swear over his first-born child to the developer of this ATS software.

Ok, so finally Matt gets to start actually applying for this job, and the experience didn’t get any better at that point.

“I then filled out the rest of the job application. It was basically the online, fielded equivalent of a paper based application, and just as much fun. I had to provide an employer I’ve never met with a copy of my resume, and also my employment history for the last decade (capped at 7), providing the full address, supervisor name, complete salary history and contact information for each, among other information that’s really unnecessary at this step. 

I was also required me before applying to fill out mandatory fields asking for three professional references, their contact information and how long I’d known each, and I’m pretty sure no one in their right mind would provide this information to a company who they’d just come across online for any consumer purchase. But I went ahead and filled in some stuff so the system would finally let me turn in my application, and when I finally clicked submit…TA DA! A form telling me “Thank You and Have A Great Day!

Well, I was having one before all that shit.”

How’s that for an experience? Can of makes you feel crazy enough to pull out the old cleaver and…

Black Hole Sun Gif ... - Imgur
… uh, do whatever it is she’s doing. Anyway, it’s painful. That’s the point.

Oh, and you know what else is Superunknown by the candidate before they begin? How long this entire process will take.

“I should mention that I timed this little exercise. From filling out the first field on the application to seeing that screw you message pop up on the screen, it took me exactly 29 minutes and 42 seconds. That’s a half hour of my life I’ll never get back to apply for a job I didn’t really even want.”

While Matt’s experience may seem extreme in how fantastically terrible it was, it isn’t an outlier by any means. The majority of candidates are still forced through way to many unnecessary steps, and confronted with way to crappy technology that is the exact opposite of user friendly. And only the truly desperate candidates (i.e. not the best) are going to suffer through that before moving on.

The math is pretty simple: Crappy Candidate Experience = Crappy Candidates.

Candidate experience is more than just the technology that powers your process, it’s the sum total of the entire lifecycle of the candidate’s job search. But fixing the technology will go a long way toward fixing the whole of your grungy application process.

And on that poor and tortured pun, go ahead and cue the video.

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