Many employers ranking among Fortune’s list of ‘2012 Best Companies to Work For’ failed to make job seekers feel welcome at their websites due to needlessly complicated online applications, irrelevant questions, and ignored résumés, according to the results of the annual Mystery Job Seeking survey from staffing industry consulting firm CareerXRoads. The results of the August 2012 survey are available at: For the survey, a résumé was created for a fictional job seeker named ‘Charles Brown,’ who was most recently a marketing manager of a major company’s ‘Great Pumpkin’ division. The fictional Charles Brown applied for open positions on websites for all 100 employers on Fortune’s list of ‘2012 Best Companies to Work For’ available at: The survey revealed while “leading companies believe they excel in recruiting candidates quickly, efficiently, and respectfully via their websites,” the fictional job seeker “found that reality is far different.”  Although employers had shown improvement in the 10 years since the introduction of the annual survey, and the majority of companies acknowledged receipt of a job application, too many organizations also: 

  • Provided insufficient information about jobs and their corporate cultures. 
  • Failed to make the application process user-friendly by not allowing job seekers to upload information in an easy, logical manner.
  • Besieged candidates with irrelevant questions.
  • Required candidates to take 10 minutes or more to apply for an opening.  
The survey also found that many companies on Fortune’s list of ‘2012 Best Companies to Work For’ did not offer enough useful feedback to job candidates after they have applied for a job: 
  • Nearly two-thirds provided no two-way communication with job seekers. 
  • Another one in four offered only minimal interaction.  
  • More than half did not set expectations or offer closure. 
  • More than 40 percent received poor to middling grades for the ease in navigation of their website. 
  • More than 50 percent did a fair to poor job of making relevant content readily available. 
In addition, the survey found many job seekers and employers are left “in the dark” during the online hiring process. While job seekers are unable to determine the status of their application or learn more about a potential employer, companies do not know what is working – or not working – in their online hiring systems and how their employment brand is perceived, mostly because they do not have built in opportunities to ask questions of candidates about their experiences in applying for positions. 
  • Nearly one in four employers asked no screening questions.
  • About two in three employers asked only generic screening questions.
  • Six percent asked for a Social Security number that could have no bearing on a job seeker’s qualifications for a position. 
  • Fewer than three in 10 employers asked questions specific to the job for which the fictional job seeker was applying.
The annual Mystery Job Seeker survey from CareerXRoads audits of how companies treat candidates applying for positions through their websites to foster best practices in the online recruiting processes of companies. Past Mystery Job Seekers have included Security Systems Programmer Chris Kringle and Administrative Assistant Ted E. Baer. The company does not hide its involvement as a disclaimer at the end of the résumé notes: “This is a CareerXRoads Mystery Job Seeker.” For more information about pre-employment background checks as part of a Safe Hiring Program, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and a nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at, call 415.898.0044, or email [email protected]. Sources: About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their businesses, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by fewer than 2 percent of screening firms. By choosing ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information, visit, call 888.999.4474, or email [email protected]. About ESR News: The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected].]]>