Most of the professionals that we work with here at OpenWater on a daily basis are program administrators and coordinators who work tirelessly to ensure that the day-to-day running of their programs are working smoothly. From the call to application, to the review, selection, and feedback process – there is nothing that doesn’t pass their eye first. So, whenever it is that we begin working with a new admin, the first question we ask them is what the hardest thing about their job currently and to our surprise, most of them reply with the same answer. For most program administrators, it is the very end of the program cycle that has them wrought with issues the most – the challenges and uncertainties of providing adequate feedback to their applicants.
Keep Your Applicants Engaged – be sure to Close the Loop
Challenges in providing feedback to applicants can be problematic for any program administrator, but the stakes are higher than others for some programs more so than others. For instance, if you are an admin running an Awards or an Accreditation program where it is more likely that you’ll be working with applicants who will be submitting multiple applications over several cycles or years even, giving them concrete feedback to ensure that they will be motivated to come back and try again the next time might be the key to ensuring a steady flow of applications every year. We call this closing the loop on people who might want to come back and apply.
Associations are a Brain Trust – Use It
According to recent market research, more than half of associations admit they have trouble engaging young professionals in their various fields of expertise. Reasons for that may partially due to shifting demographics on who these associations cater to alongside the increased likelihood for members of the millennial workforce to be more dynamic in their early career stages than ever before. However, most association professionals agree on that one thing has remained unchanged over the years; people join associations for the purpose of unprecedented networking opportunities and the benefit of professional advice from the association. The programs that are being rolled out by these associations are often chaired and reviewed by experts in the field, meaning that any form of feedback they receive are in the form of expert advice from the real deal. Giving applicants the courtesy of providing feedback along with their application can really boost the reputation of your program and by extension, your association as well.
Providing Feedback doesn’t have to be Time-Consuming
The reason why administrators experience so many problems providing applicants with feedback at the end of a program cycle is because of how time consuming the process can be without a proper application and review system in place that automates everything in an organized and linear fashion. Despite the good intentions of program admins, it almost always ends up so that feedback reaches the inbox of an applicant in the form of a vague letter — resulting in a no-win situation where frustrated applicants are demanding constructive criticism on one end, and admins are complaining about how much of a time sink it is to individually provide applicants with feedback on the other.
The process of providing feedback doesn’t have to be this daunting, overtime effort in providing personalized feedback to every single applicant that applied to your program. Of course, there are different kinds of feedback — and some programs may offer personalized feedback to each of their applicants. However, for most programs, there’s no need for that. For instance, using OpenWater, admins are able to let applicants to see their judge scores, providing them with a barometer to compare their performance to years past and going forward. Going back to the idea of “closing the loop”, having this small, but valuable, way of knowing how they performed can make a huge difference in the longevity of the program.
How OpenWater works to Close the Feedback Loop
Click here to read about the various functionalities within OpenWater that lets program admins tweak with the level of privacy to which certain comments and scores are going to be kept at, and which ones can be made available to the applicants upon release. For example, when setting up a program within OpenWater, program admins can set up the review side so that an information piee can be included for reviewers that comments may be seen by the applicant, or providing them with a platform to send comments to the applicant specifically. Most importantly, by having a robust solution that works to ensure that every part of the application and review cycle runs in an organized, linear way, the aspect of providing important feedback to applicants is no longer the same challenge it was before.
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