There was a nifty article in the latest issue of Journal of Applied Psychology in which the authors investigated what happens when you tailor a job posting to an applicant. Specifically, they looked at both telling how much an applicant’s profile “fit” with the requirements of the job, as well as customizing the order in which certain information about the job is presented based on the applicants’ claims of what’s most important to them (e.g., the nature of the work versus benefits). This was all on a Web-based job posting system mocked up to resemble something like Monster.com.
The findings, in short, were that “better” applicants applied when they were provided this kind of customization. Also, interestingly, fewer applicants threw their hats in the ring for jobs when there were customizations to the posting, which if you think about it is a very good thing if it means that you’re more qualified than unqualified ones.
Given the growing sophistication of web sites and the proliferation of social networking sites, this all has some pretty interesting implications. Look at how sites like Facebook or LinkedIn encourage you to provide information about yourself and engage in activities that bulid your profile to the point where it’s practically a meta game with a “% complete” score. No need to go overboard, but a corporate recruiting portal could easily ask for not only information about the candidate’s qualifications, but also information about what kind of aspects of the job are most important to them –location, values, career development, salary, benefits, nature of the job, whatever. Then you could programatically tailor your recruiting message by highlighting certain aspects of the job posting and/or presenting certain information first.
I even think an index of “There is a 70% match with your application profile” would be doable, and candidates would be both more likely to pay attention to job postings with higher ratings and less likely to spam you with applications for jobs with low ratings. In the end, they apply for jobs for which they’re a better match, and your company’s recruiters have a smaller set of more qualified resumes to dig through.
The article, by the way, is “Effects of Customization on Applicant Decisions and Applicant Pool Characteristics in a Web-Based Recruitment Context” by Brian Dineen and Raymond Noe. It’s in the 2009, Vol. 94 No. 1 issue of Journal of Applied Psychology, pp 224-234.