It is conventional wisdom that a recruiter's impression of an applicant is formed very early in the hiring process. If an applicant's resume doesn't stand out, he or she won't stand out and will figuratively wait by the phone for the employment call that will never come. As a recruiter or hiring manager, have you ever thought about the impression your organization leaves with a prospective employee? Do you respond to an applicant's resume with the perfunctory (but standard) thank you letter containing the statement that someone will be in touch if there's any interest?
Consider this: many of those looking for work today, especially college students who have found the employment picture to be particularly bleak, are looking for entry-level positions such as customer service, retail or hospitality. And many, if not all, of them have multiple applications outstanding - they will take a job, just about ANY job. Completing online job applications and sending resumes to a nameless, faceless e-mail address can be discouraging and demoralizing, especially for those who have been looking for some time.
To be fair, the number of job seekers in the market today makes it impossible for a more personalized experience, especially for entry-level positions. Or does it? Finding ways to get them more actively engaged in the application process can not only help them feel like they have some control of the process, but it also can identify those applicants who are more motivated and may be candidates worthy of consideration.
Think about ways you can "roll out the red carpet" for those applicants who interested in working for you. For example, rather than just passively accepting an application and resume, invite a candidate to take part in an online virtual interview. This is very easy to do, it can be a very valuable addition to the application and resume (benefits the candidate), and it can help shorten the time-to-fill cycle (benefits the hiring organization). Applicants who complete one of these virtual interviews demonstrate better knowledge of the hiring company and the job requirements, tend to be more motivated - they took a step beyond just submitting their application - and can be more productive in a shorter amount of time.