Why the Best Candidates Hate Your Recruitment and Hiring Process

Written by Jonathan Wiersma

It shouldn’t surprise you that there are many people in your community who want to work for your local government. You may be shocked, however, to learn that many of those same people hate your recruitment and hiring process. Don’t feel frustrated. We’re here to help you understand possible areas of frustration so that you can make the necessary improvements to ensure the best talent are following through with your hiring process from applicant to new employee.

Citizens Want Better Communication Throughout the Application Process

When asked about areas of frustration during the job application process, candidates routinely point to the same issue: lack of communication. When applicants feel like they don’t know where they are in the application review process, or even if their resume has been received, it leaves them with a dissatisfied perception of your administration. Such negative interactions with your local government can also make an individual less likely to apply to future opportunities in your administration, and may even tarnish their perceptions of your municipal leadership in general.

At the same time, the issue that human resource teams face, especially in local government, is often a lack of staff, resources, or time to manually follow-up with each applicant for each open position. Human resource software for government with an automated email follow-up component can help you provide the level of quality communication applicant wants, without overburdening your staff.

Candidates Aren’t Finding Your Job Postings Where They’re Searching

If you’re not using multiple channels to share job postings—and specifically those channels where they majority of job seekers are visiting—you could be missing opportunities to attract qualified talent, and frustrating active job seekers. A 2015 study conducted by CareerBuilder found that job seekers consult up to 18 resources throughout their job search. Common resources include job boards, social media, search engines, and online referrals.

Attract Talent in the Digital Age eBook

If you’re only using job boards, or only posting to your local government website, your positions may not be receiving the visibility needed to attract the highest quality talent. Make sure you are tracking applicant sources so that you can refine and improve your recruitment channel marketing efforts.

Civic Tip: Click here to learn how to recruit talent using social media.

Job Applications Aren’t Mobile Optimized

Today’s job seekers are mobile-minded and are searching for opportunities from their smart phone or tablet. Today, more Google searches are performed from mobile devices than desktop computers. Not only are job seekers searching for employment from a desktop computer, they are searching on-the-go from their mobile devices. 28 percent of Americans have used a smartphone as part of a job search, while half of smartphone job seekers have used their smartphone to complete a job application.

Despite the proliferation of mobile technology, the mobile resources and tools available for job seekers do not always enable a convenient, streamlined experience. Nearly half of smartphone job seekers have reported experiencing difficulties accessing job-related content due to issues with usability and mobile functionality. In addition, 30 percent have reported having difficulty entering a large amount of text into mobile interfaces, or having difficulty submitting supporting documentation from their mobile devices. To attract today’s mobile-savvy job seekers, local governments need to ensure any job postings or digital talent acquisition tools are optimized for mobile.

Candidates Feel Applications are Too Lengthy

According to a separate survey conducted by CareerBuilder, three in five candidates will not complete an application process if they feel it is too long. In local government, where the qualifications for civil service require unique, and often more involved applicant verification steps, quality candidates may be abandoning the process if they feel the process is too time consuming and involved.

One way to ensure this doesn’t happen to your applicants is to ensure you are using applications customized to the department or role. Many local governments require each applicant to complete a lengthy generic application, and then add on to that additional questions or requirements depending on the position or department. Instead, ensure you are creating application versions that only ask the questions relevant for the associated position.

This process of creating custom applications proved successful for Spartanburg, South Carolina. When the human resources team in Spartanburg implemented the CivicHR applicant tracking system (ATS) they were able to streamline their application versioning and application routing process. They created a standard, initial application for all positions that obtains basic candidate information. After the initial application is pre-screened, only those qualified candidates receive a secondary follow-up application and are sent the required documentation as the next step in the hiring process for prospective law enforcement officers.

“The new process that we have devised for our Sheriff’s Department using CivicHR works much better than our previous paper-based process,” said Tony Bell, Spartanburg County Director of Human Resources. “Before, we would give our Sheriff’s Department a pile of paperwork with every applicant, regardless of whether the applicant was qualified. Now, only qualified candidates are passed on to the Sheriff’s Department. It has significantly cut down on the amount of documentation being reviewed for each applicant, making the screening process much easier for everyone.”

Click here to read the full story about Spartanburg County, South Carolina.


To remain competitive in the job market, especially as local governments continue to compete for the best talent against private sector employers, make sure every element of your recruitment process is optimized to attract the best candidates. An applicant tracking software solution can help to streamline your workflows to enhance the candidate’s experience, regardless if you are a team of one or dozens. Click below to learn how to implement local government software for human resources without straining your team.

 How to Implement a Local Government HR Software Solution