The Modern Application Process
Image is everything when it comes to companies attracting a Millennial crowd, and applications are no exception. With a younger generation of incoming employees, bars must be set to new heights. The Millennial employee is both concerned with the job we’re doing and who we’re doing it for. Millennials are interested in working for companies that pride themselves on image, aesthetic, and style. A company’s commitment to image reflects an outstanding investment, not only in the work being done, but also in the people doing it.
Application processes are by far the most important part of a critical first impression between employer and potential future employee. And a good impression must go both ways! The application process is a tell-all about the company’s work environment and culture, and whether or not it will be up to Millennial standards. Therefore it is just as important for a company to make a lasting impression on a candidate as it is for a candidate to present themselves desirably to a potential employer.
When I think of the modern application process, my mind goes straight to LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been the professional social media titan for as long as I can remember. Originally created to act as a computerized bulletin for job listings, it has grown into an expansive network of professionals through which users can sort in order to track and manage connections and career paths. And in this regard, it is highly successful. However, when it comes to actually applying for jobs via LinkedIn, the experience is less than satisfactory.
Uploading a resume, as is the protocol with most job listings on LinkedIn, is standard enough. And although listings do require different things depending on the employer, the LinkedIn experience is overall simple and easily navigable. So what is the real issue? Well, when it comes to the Millennial crowd, face value is just as important as function. And face value is one area where LinkedIn falls short. The website itself is aesthetically unoriginal and boring, not to mention cluttered and overwhelming. In fact, visiting it is such a turn off that many Millennials are actively seeking other ways to explore job options. LinkedIn, while useful in its own right, is unfortunately inconsistent, confused, and above all else: not a representation of the companies listing the actual jobs. And don’t get me wrong, LinkedIn isn’t the only site like it to disappoint. Similar sites like Indeed and SimplyHired are taking a cue from Millennials and fine tuning their aesthetics. But will this alone be enough? No.
Lack of representation of potential employers and company culture is at the heart of the issue. Millennials are a judgemental crowd--constantly assessing appearances and aesthetics. If they visit a company's website and don’t immediately feel drawn to the visual aspects, that can be the end of any interest, content aside. Like I said, face value is critical. Older generations put more stock in accessible information and functionality, two things that LinkedIn has made its name in. But Millennials need something more eye-catching. Something with more personality than a manilla folder. Ideally, job hunting sites should act as a stepping stone to company websites. Unfortunately, these sites, especially LinkedIn, are so off putting, users often don’t make it to the company website at all.
So what is the solution? How do employers attract the right kind of Millennial to their application process--someone who is concerned with a good first impression, but is also willing to dig deeper once their eye has been caught?
The value of a privatized application process must be reimagined. Companies must view LinkedIn as nothing more than the stepping stone it is to drive potential employees to their websites. Then, this website must be visually impressive, as well as engaging and exciting. In other words, a representation of the company itself. In a perfect world, I imagine that a new professional social media will arise that allows more possibility for expression and engagement. Something that will nullify the need for outside application processes once and for all. But for now, as a Millennial entering the workforce, I would advise employers to draw their desired candidates away from LinkedIn, and other websites like it, and into the culture and style they have curated for themselves.