It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how to better connect people to jobs, particularly in the industries that we serve at Apploi (retail, restaurant, hospitality, and services).

What continues to bother me is that we still have 8million people unemployed in the U.S. and that teenagers have the highest unemployment rate of any worker group at 16.1%. Further, more than two million of the unemployed are long-term unemployed, and this number hasn’t changed substantially in months.

What’s also striking is that there are over 5 million job openings in the U.S. right now!

  • So what is the hurdle that stands in the way? Whilst I don’t claim to have all the answers, there are some recurring themes that I see every day in running Apploi:

The Point of Capture

In the Service and Support industries, jobseekers are predominantly found at either open houses (where the store will shut off revenue-generating space to meet prospective employees/ have them fill out a paper-form), or via the company’s website (treated as if they are applying to a corporate office job).

Of course, neither is ideal; candidates are customers, especially in these industries, and need to be captured in a more meaningful and simpler way. Many of the demographic populations we serve (who find it the hardest to secure work), don’t have easy access to a computer (after all, they do everything else with a mobile device), they may not have the means to make it to a recruiting event, or they may just lack the correct guidance and support along the way.

To connect teenagers, long-term unemployed, and other worker groups struggling the most, we need to move away from what’s done now. These demographics are blocked from connecting to jobs entirely; others make it work with great difficulty, just because they have to. When today’s six year old (in just ten years time) is ready to make her first job application, its inconceivable that it would look anything like it does today (these six year olds complain when a movie take two seconds to load).

I’m certainly not of the opinion that applying to a job is a fun exercise, but it needs to become a connector and not a hurdle. Let’s provide quick cross-platform capture points for job seekers to express an interest in a job effectively and efficiently from wherever they may be, and at a time that suits them best.

And for those that don’t have their own computer or mobile device, ensure that there are easy-to-reach public access points to discover real jobs close to their location.

The Resume

When we enter an art competition we pull together our most beautiful portfolio of work, when we want to become the next pop star we enter shows like The X-Factor and demonstrate our talents in a few seconds, or when we search for a date or just to socialize we showcase our best selfie possible… But when it comes to finding our next job, yes, we still use a black and white piece of paper to represent ourselves!

Many of the jobs available on Apploi are looking for customer service employees; how can any useful judgment be made by just looking at a piece of paper? (No wonder turnover rates in these industries average over 75% per annum). The resume also acts as a blocker to the jobseeker, especially those mentioned above. For teenagers with limited experience, or the long-term unemployed without the ‘conventional’ career path, a resume doesn’t provide an opportunity to demonstrate to employers why they should be given a chance.

Facebook profile pictures are moving to videos, the iPhone camera now defaults to recording a second’s video rather than just capturing a photo, and YouTube continues to be one the most visited websites in the world. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. The resume needs to adapt to help employers have meaningful information, and to give jobseekers the chance to demonstrate why they are the best fit for the specific role. In industries that we work with watching a video clip of someone responding to a difficult customer can make all the difference.

Guidance and Support

Job searching is not easy. Teenagers, people who have struggled in securing employment in the past, new immigrants, graduates, and many others need help with this often difficult to navigate process, wherever they may be. It’s interesting how innovative e-commerce brands like Warby Parker decided the online shopping experience was not enough and needed to be blended with an offline store experience. The same is true with people searching for a job, why do we assume, just because a job is posted somewhere online, that everyone knows where it is and how to appropriately respond? Or that they have a computer or data plan to access that posting in the first place?

We need to capture jobseekers in easy and efficient ways, both on and offline. Jobseekers often have a feeling of frustration, vulnerability and need additional assistance. We need to put some power back into their hands and provide the tools to allow them to connect and get the right job for them. 

The Store Manager

Store Managers in industries we work with are tasked with a certain amount of responsibility over hiring, however they are not trained recruiters, nor is hiring their top priority (store sales trumps). Not only is there a hurdle mentioned above for the jobseeker, there is also a significant one for the hiring manager.

In today’s highly competitive and ever-changing high street the Store Manager needs to focus on hitting sales targets, and doesn’t have the time, training or background to act as a professional full-time recruiter would. They are predominantly on their feet, meeting customers and managing their employees, and so recruiting in the traditional sense is seen as a burden and distraction. They often don’t have easy access to a computer, and find it difficult to see what they need from a resume in fast and sometimes urgent hiring-cycles. This results in speedy decisions. We are all aware what high-turnover results in: low-morale, re-hiring and re-training.

We need intuitive and consumerfied products built specifically for the Store or District Manager. Provide them with simple ways to review jobseekers from any device and be provided with the relevant data that they need to decide whom to progress forward through the process.

And (without getting too technical), today’s progressive ATS companies (such asiCims – an Apploi partner) are developing strong sets of APIs, to allow for this all to happen, and to ensure everything can be captured, managed and tracked through the company’s ATS.

In Summary:

So this is a big challenge, but not one that can’t be solved! The motivation to solve this should be immense; after all we are talking about millions of people’s livelihoods and sense of purpose. This challenge is not going to disappear, but will only become more apparent, as the generation born holding an iPhone will soon be entering the workforce.

This article is from Apploi and was published on Jan 18, 2016.