Ten ways to repel applicants

Recruitment practices can repel rather than attract applicants. Here’s ten ways you can make life difficult for applicants and thereby reduce the chances of filling a job.

1. Too long a list of selection criteria
Once you move past 5 or 6 criteria applicants, both within and outside the public service, are going to start asking themselves if it’s worth the time and effort.

2. Too complicated criteria
The move to generic criteria has spawned long lists of criteria with multiple sub-parts. Given these criteria can be more difficult to write to than job-related criteria, applicants will have to be very keen to embark on this process.

3. Unclear instructions
A note that ‘applicants must address the selection criteria’ is insufficient to explain to an outsider how to apply. It is a meaningless statement that many an applicant doesn’t even see.

Other instructions about what to supply, which criteria to address, what to do about sub-parts to generic criteria, may all be unintelligible to applicants or sufficiently ambiguous to send them off on a path that leads nowhere.

4. Limited information about the job
Agencies vary in the amount of information they provide about the job. A one paragraph summary, a list of responsibilities and a list of criteria is insufficient. A more thorough approach includes information like key relationships, accountabilities, results.

5. Contact person not able to be contacted
Contact officers continue to be mysterious, ghost-like creatures who cannot be found and do not return calls

6. Unhelpful contact person
Contact officers who think that they should give little away in terms of information do their agency a disservice.

7. Complex competency frameworks
Some agencies have complex frameworks that link competencies, values, leadership qualities, work level standards and selection criteria. The task of applying for a job becomes even more complicated as the applicant tries to fathom how all this information fits together. Assuming, that is, that they have access to this information.

8. Long and slow selection processes
Agencies cannot afford to drag the chain once applications have been submitted. In a competitive market you chosen candidate isn’t going to wait while you take months to make a decision.

9. No information provided about the selection process
Applicants continue to be surprised by what they face when called for interview. Tell them what the interview will involve, who will be there, how long it will take and whether any other selection methods are being used.

10. Web sites difficult to navigate
Referring applicants to web sites is fine but if basic information like annual reports, strategic documents, organisation charts are difficult to find, you may well lose applicants.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.