Robert Ullman

Jeff King, of Jeff King & Co., in San Francisco, included an online application when he organized his company’s first website. “We have a fairly specific procedure for hiring,” he says, “and [the online application] is part of that procedure.”

At Orren Pickell Designers & Builders, COO Lisa Pickell says that online applications help streamline the Lake Bluff, Ill.–based company’s hiring process. “It gives us the basic information, so you can have administrative staff review it and call to get more information or set up an interview so that your higher-level people are not spending time going back and forth with someone who is not qualified.”

No Resume? No Problem

King says that the online application is useful when he’s hiring carpenters or laborers who have not had the need for a formal résumé. “It gives them a place to record that information,” he says. Pickell, whose company also hires a range of blue- to white-collar workers, agrees. “Guys in the field usually do not come prepared with that kind of documentation. Our application includes the minimum amount of information we need to make a decision.”

King’s online application form asks questions to obtain information that people don’t generally provide in their résumés, such as salary in previous positions. Even if candidates have sent in a résumé, both Pickell and King ask them to also fill out the online application. “To me, the thoroughness with which they fill out the application is like a mini-test,” King says. “It gives insight into their personality.”

The Orren Pickell Designers & Builders application makes it clear to applicants, both at the top and bottom of the form, that the company will conduct a drug test. “We don’t want to go through the time and effort, if you’re not going to pass the test,” Pickell says.

Better Qualified

According to King, the online application also provides more qualified candidates because they have reviewed your website and know a little about your company. He says that some candidates fax or e-mail résumés without doing any research about their potential employer. “Our website is pretty specific,” King says. “It tells you a lot about who we are and offers some indication of what our expectations are as employers. It will attract a higher-level candidate as well as remove low-level candidates or those not appropriate.”

Based on the type of candidate he is trying to attract, King places either anonymous or company-specific ads on classifieds website Craigslist. With company-specific ads, he includes a link to his firm’s website and a direct link to the application. With anonymous ads, where he is trying to attract a broader range of people, he doesn’t include his company name or links.

Pickell gets five to six unsolicited applications a week. Even if the company is not hiring, she keeps these applications on file and contacts any applicant who stands out or has an unusual background, so that if a position does open up, she already has a sense about that person.

King hired his current project manager through the Jeff King & Co. website. “He sent me a résumé through the Web portal,” King says. “I kept it on my desk, and when we went to advertise for a project manager, I called him to find out his status.”

Each of the companies’ websites is set up so that online applications are e-mailed to administrative or human resources staff. Pickell says that her company uses a variety of online forms, and its site includes applications for subcontractors and realtors, as well as for charity requests.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.