The glory days
Let’s rewind 20 years and picture ourselves applying for a job. We’re scouring the employment section of the newspaper, trying to find that dream employer and seeing if we fit the bill. We might have even asked an employment agency to help - leaving the scouring to them. And then, we find it - the one. We pull our CV together and, if we’re fortunate enough, we do this through our home computer. Once we’ve done that, we might print it out and mail or fax it to the address listed in the job advertisement.
That’s it. We’ve applied for the job. Now onto the next.
A fire hose of applications
Fast forward to present day - and it’s a different story. There are thousands of online platforms facilitating one-click job applications. LinkedIn alone has 55 job applications submitted every second. According to my maths, that’s 3,300 applications a minute. 198,000 applications an hour. 4,752,000 applications a day. And that’s just LinkedIn.
Let’s also not forget who’s on the receiving end of this. It’s the recruiters at companies who are tasked with multiple responsibilities, only one of which being to sift through thousands of applications (even paying for tools to auto-filter out candidates). And there are the war stories, like Goldman Sachs receiving 250,000 student applications in a single year or the graduate recruiter spending hours reviewing thousands of resumes only to find that a notable number aren’t even qualified to work at the company (sometimes you need to be a chartered accountant to work at an accounting firm).
The job application business has become so streamlined that the efficiencies originally created by these services are now causing significant headaches for the companies.
Yearning for the way things used to be
So what’s the main difference between our nostalgic moment from 20 years ago to today? There’s no friction. Manually preparing applications and using ‘snail mail’ to deliver them meant candidates had to overcome a series of steps that required them to think carefully about whether they wanted to proceed - whether they really wanted a job at that specific company.
Today, it takes mere minutes (if that) to apply for a job. All you need is your CV, cover letter (sometimes) and academic transcript or portfolio loaded with your profile - and you just hit ‘submit’.
Creating a healthy hurdle candidates choose to overcome helps recruiters bubble up to the surface those who are genuinely interested in their company - this is ‘positive friction’.
Some companies will prioritise applications from candidates that have invested time to attend certain events or training programs run by the company. Others think about it a bit more innovatively.
The best way to introduce positive friction
At Forage, our clients bring to surface high-intent candidates that are upskilled on their specific work environment and ready to hit the ground running from day one. They do this by creating open-access (and free of charge) virtual work experience programs that simulate what it’s like to work in a specific team at their company, like BCG’s Strategy Consulting virtual experience program. Individuals participate in these programs and immediately understand what it really means to be a Strategy Consultant at a place like BCG - illustrating to them what skills they need to be a success, while also helping them gain those skills.
The magic comes from the fact that companies can see who has participated in their programs (if the candidate has elected to share their information, of course, which in most cases they do). From this, they can see who has voluntarily decided to invest 6 to 10 hours of their time, on top of university and part-time work commitments, to learn more about them specifically. Some companies will cross-reference their applicants to see which of them have taken part in their programs. Others will include a question asking if they’ve completed a program in the application process itself. Either way, it’s an immediate gauge on genuine candidate intent - and that’s invaluable.
Why? Because if you, as the company, are going to invest thousands of dollars of recruiting, onboarding and training time to bring in a new candidate - you want them to be a candidate committed to your workplace. Not one that will leave in 12 to 18 months, or even renege on an offer, and leave you back to reviewing those thousands of resumes. If you receive the same type of application from two individuals - one who’s invested personal time to learn about your company vs another who’s repeated language from your website - who would you pick? To the former, you’re more than just the ‘submit’ button on the job application page.
What are you waiting for?
Without ‘positive friction’ like this embedded in the application process, recruiters will continue to struggle to solve the proliferation of job applications and lose time with low-intent candidates.
And creating this type of ‘positive friction’ not only benefits you, the company, but also benefits the candidates and generates immediate, far-reaching goodwill - it’s a win-win.
So what are you waiting for?