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Say No to the Status Quo

by Declan 13. May 2011

I could count on one hand the number of job adverts and application forms I can remember, and I would assume it’s a pretty similar story for most. Rather than create excitement about the role, they can be quite repetitive and generic, and it becomes just “another form to fill”. There is little connection with the company itself, and the understanding of the role, and the duties and responsibilities involved may not be as clear as they should be. Do the following questions look familiar?

  1. Why are you applying for this job?
  2. What skills do you possess that would make you an ideal candidate for this position?


Not surprisingly, some organisations are beginning to buck the trend, wise to the rewards that lay instore for those that differentiate themselves from the masses. A prime recent example is Pokelondon The creative advertising agency lost a member of staff to the White House, but has used this to create both an ad and application form.

The ad then encourages somebody who feels they could replace that particular employee by completing certain challenges, including one where the applicant is assuming to be the President. The creativity here moves away from the traditional “tell me your skills”, to the more interactive and less invasive demonstrate your skills. This advertisement creates much more of a relationship with the company, and candidates are highlighting their skills in a seemingly more informal manner.

Obama stole our writer advertisement

So what should be in the job spec and advertisement?

Of course the above example suits the creative agency and this particular role very well. What is important is the innovation that is used. Regardless of “thinking outside the box”, a number of principles will still remain with the job spec. First and foremost, it must sell the job and the company. Pokelondon achieve this without falling into the trap of going overboard. Being part of the Fortune 500, and highlighting company awards adds credibility, but should not be the primary focus. The candidate needs to be able to identify with the role, but also know that it will be challenging. Identifying attainable targets and objectives is essential in certain roles, particularly sales, but these should be well thought out. Setting these too low will create a complacent and low productivity environment, while setting them too high can create disillusionment.

How do I ensure I identify the strongest candidates?

No one wants to be bogged down by manually going through CV’s, and Excel sends a shudder through most HR employees! An applicant tracking system, ATS, is the most efficient way of screening, ranking and communicating with applicants. It greatly speeds up the entire process, and crucially provides reporting, allowing you to see the strengths and weaknesses in your process, and where you are getting value for money. An effective job spec compliments the ATS as it acts as a pre-screener in itself. For example, you can state that the role requires at least 5 years experience.

Application forms are also very useful to rank candidates that appear to have similar credentials. Again, the ATS can differentiate between candidates by compiling their answers to certain questions. These questions are weighted which will highlight the candidates with the closest match to the role, so the recruiter can deal with the most applicable candidates first. The application form can also gather additional information which may not be present on the CV. It may allow a candidate to highlight how they dealt with a certain type of scenario or situation in the past, giving a fuller picture of his/her strengths.

What has been one of the biggest developments in the ATS sector is the movement away from being merely recruitment software, but towards consultancy based service. Candidate Manager, a leading provider of applicant tracking solutions, is a strong advocate of this. With an account management team hailing from recruitment backgrounds, and a dedicated customer support team, the emphasis is the service more so than the product. Generally speaking, most vendors offer similar functionality, it is the service that differentiates the providers. Candidate Manager advises clients on best practices, ensuring that users get the best possible ROI. Guidance in creating quality applications forms, use of social media, introduction of various testing, job posting is all provided, So like The White House, you too will get the best quality talent

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