Studies about how happy candidates are with various recruiting processes are regularly done by reputable institutes. There are also online polls done by big job websites and the online section of big newspapers, although these cannot claim to be truly representative. One conclusion can be drawn from them, though: HR in Germany has two big problems:

  • The whole process is experienced as increasingly impersonal, drawn out and unprofessional.
  • Many job ads go into great detail when describing the company, but don’t offer many specifics about the job itself.

 

In several polls done in Germany over the last two years, 40% of those looking for a new job said that they had to wait up to six weeks for a first reaction to their application. On the other hand, using the possibilities of electronics, especially big company are starting to straight away send a standardized rejection letter to those candidates who have been deemed unsuited after a first perusal of incoming applications. To many candidates this comes across as rude.

 

On the other end of the spectrum is still seems to be rather common for companies to not react to applications at all, despite actively placing job-ads and the possibilities of modern technology. Twenty per cent of those taking the poll complained about this. While in the past the physical documents submitted by the applicants were simply sent back, in today’s environment of electronic applications, there is no reaction at all.

 

Another trend that has been making the rounds, starting in big companies, but now picked up by more and more smaller companies as well, are online portals for applications: The Company offers an online form where candidates are asked to fill in their personal details, contact data, and often also their CV in standardized formats. The next step would then be the uploads of digital documents with their credentials. Often the referring job ad does no longer list alternative means of communication, or a contact person to talk to if the candidate has any questions concerning the job. Especially highly qualified candidates who would like to put in applications for specific leadership and specialist positions consider this method to be way too impersonal. The companies in return argue that after two decades of rationalization their in-house HR staff would be unable to handle the application process if done the traditional way.

 

The overall trend is clearly moving away from individual contact and toward electronic forms and automated acknowledgement letters and rejection letters. A consequence of this is that candidates do not hear from their prospective employer of long stretches of time – often enough too long. Status updates seem to have fallen out of fashion. Although technically it would be possible to also send those via an automated system, it usually is not done. Should an applicant want to enquire about the status of their application, they usually have to call the general hotline and then hope to somehow find the right person to talk to. Often enough, they do not get the necessary information in the end. Many companies seem oblivious to how detrimental these things are for their employer image, and how disadvantageous that is during a time when qualified workers and specialists are hard to find.

 

Those fortunate enough to make it through the automated pre-selection process are then met by old-fashioned personnel management methods after all. Then, despite equal opportunity laws, it still happens that women wearing a head scarf or young women in general are disadvantaged. That usually cannot be proven, of course, because rejection letters by now no longer list reasons for the rejection. Statistically it has been shown, though, that old forms of discrimination still happen, even though they have become rarer over the last few years. The latter, however, seems to be more due to the increasing shortage of qualified workers in Germany and central Europe and less because of a change of attitude.

 

Aside from all that, though, the polls show a growing dissatisfaction with the job-ads themselves. After the gradual shift away from printed publications and toward online job markets, the style of the advertisements themselves is also changing, becoming shorter and more telegram style. Cost considerations have reduced the layout to the bare minimum, and the requirements and job description are often formulated in little more than half sentences. Of course, applicants are also expected to adapt to modern times, and that not only includes the now prevailing means of communication by email, but also the job advertisements. The days of half-page print ads in newspapers and special interest magazines are over. That does not mean that it’s impossible to design pleasing job ads that also visually look appealing to the respective target group. The choice of media must not be an excuse for bad texting. On the contrary, the electronic advertisement, freed of the space limits of a print ad, offers more possibilities for presenting the job in question. In one poll, 40% of the participants said they were unhappy with the visual presentation and content of job ads. Only 16% were satisfied. It seems like there is still great room for improvement and something employers need to tackle to get the right candidates to apply to their job openings.

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