Using Google Forms for Recruiting

Some organizations look to recruit outside Mentors. The basic plan is to have interested people fill out a form and get reviewed by the organization. Those who move forward are then loaded into this platform as Mentors, ideally with little extra work on the part of the administrator.

This page describes how that might be accomplished using existing free tools.

At a high-level the set of tasks are:

  1. Gather set of people who want to become Mentors.
  2. Evaluate each applicant.
  3. For those who qualify, add them to this platform.

Gather Applicants

This depends on your organizations needs and resources, of course. You may choose to place an invitation on your website, send an email blast to alumni, or post in the local coffee shop.

Mentors Apply Here link

Using this platform, you can add a link in the upper right of every page which will say Mentors Apply Here. This link can point to any page, anywhere, so a user would be redirected to some sort of an application form. The link is visible and clickable to anyone, even those people who are not logged into this platform.

To enable this link, contact your TrustedPeer support, and provide them with a URL to use.

Link to Google Form

Where should the link point? Again, this is specific to your requirements, but it is really easy to have the link point to a Google Form, where the applicant is invited to answer a few questions.

The ease of using a Google Form is that you can get the applicant's information in a CSV file which, if you think ahead, can be directly fed into the Add Multiple User capability of this platform!

Create a Form

We'll continue with this example by creating a Google Form†.

Visit Google Forms and add a new form. Google provides lots of help on form creation and editing, so we'll just highlight important interactions with this platform.

You can see an example form at Junior University - Mentor Application.

Once created, you can configure the form to send responses to you via email and add to collect all responses in a Google Sheet spreadsheet.

Using the Form

You can now link to this form as part of Mentors Apply Here (use the Preview URL), or send mail with a link to this form to prospective Mentors.

As applicants fill out the form, their responses will be captured in the associated Google Spreadsheet. You should use that spreadsheet to evaluate the qualifications of each applicant. With Google Sheets, you can add a column to the existing spreadsheet without affecting the responses or the original form. This column (or columns) can be used to include your notes about the applicant and other information. Subsequent responses to your form will update the spreadsheet, leaving your new columns blank. (You can also add an 'Ignore' column to your spreadsheet, which will allow you to keep form data, but skip uploading individual rows.)

Using the Spreadsheet

From Google, download a CSV version of the spreadsheet. On the platform, upload that CSV file either on As Content Mgr dashboard, Users tab, or (if you want to upload them all into the same Group) the Groups tab.

After you've uploaded the CSV file, you'll want to make a few edits to finalize the information. Some of the columns are directly mapped to information in their profile. A Content Manager can edit the new user's profile page to make it more accurately reflect the applicant. You may choose to manually and to this person's Skills and Expertise.

Similarly, you may want to add each new user to one or more browse categories (See this help page for details.) This can be as:

  1. Dashboard drop down.
  2. As Content Mgr dashboard.
  3. Users tab.
  4. Browse & Search Category Editor link.

Some other things to consider:

  • Your CSV file must have column titles (the first row), otherwise it will not be uploaded. The order (or capitalization) of the columns does not matter. Google sheets will include the required column titles.
  • Column titles we do not recognize are ignored. See Add Multiple Users for a list of supported column titles.
  • You can upload the same CSV file any number of times: we'll add the person to the platform only if they are not already a member. If you upload the file to a different Group, we'll add the person to each Group you upload into.
  • If the person is already a member of the platform, no other data is updated. You cannot, for example, change the telephone number and re-upload expecting the number to be updated.
  • Mark your new user as a Mentor, if applicable. This is can be done on the Content Mgr dashboard Users tab.
  • If you like, add an 'Ignore' column to your spreadsheet. That way, if you choose to not include someone as a new Mentor, simply mark the Ignore column for them. You'll keep the form responses for that individual, but the data will not be used on upload. Again, this is detailed in See Add Multiple Users.

Form Contents

Good design of your Google Form can simplify your upload. Take a look at our example form (Junior University Application).

  • The input titles, First Name, Last Name, Email will become the column titles in the CSV file, so be sure to use the proper titles. If you need to provide additional guidance, add to the descriptive text (as we did with the "Telephone" field. The descriptive text is not included with the spreadsheet.
  • Titles we don't recognize, (e.g., "How did you learn about this opportunity") are for your benefit only, and will be ignored by the upload. These may be helpful to you while evaluating the application.
  • Input titles which end with a plus sign ( + ) trigger the column trick, and will be appended to the new user's Biography column. You can use this to put a lot of data from the form into the user's profile as part of the upload, and then post-upload, move the data to other parts of the profile.
  • The Time Zone field improves notifications while people are trying to arrange meetings. The user can always set it later. You can provide selections in form for other time zones, if you like. For a complete list, see the "Default Time Zone" drop down on your Settings page. If 'Other' is selected, we'll set the value to blank and use GMT. The user should change it when they log in.
  • In the example, we ask for a Headshot photo. The user is invited to upload a photo, a copy of which will be place in a folder on your Google Drive. The URL for the photo will be copied into the resulting spreadsheet. Before you upload this spreadsheet the first time, be sure to make that folder shareable.

    By using the File Upload input type, rather than simple Short Answer input type on the Google Form, we'll require people to a Google account to sign in prior to filling out the form. While that's really convenient, if that is a problem for your target audience, you should used the Short Answer input type, and ask user to paste a URL to a headshot photo. That URL should be visible without restriction on the internet, so we can upload it onto the platform.

Recipe

Okay, that's a lot to remember. The steps are:

  1. Make a form, referring to our Example Form, if you like.
  2. Include carefully worded titles on your form, so we can match column titles
  3. Fill out and submit the form with your information first. This will cause the underlying spreadsheet to be created. If you'll be uploading Headshots include one for yourself, so the Google Drive folder is created.
  4. Go to that spreadsheet (While editing the form, select Responses then Google Spreadsheet Icon View Responses in Sheets):
    • Add column titled 'Ignore' and type in True for the row with your data. This way, your data will be skipped on upload. (Yes, it will be skipped anyway, because your email is already in the system, but do this anyway.)
    • Add column titled 'Visible' and in the row with your data type in exactly
        =ARRAYFORMULA(IF(ISBLANK($B$2:$B),"",True))
      This trick will cause the value TRUE to automatically appear in each row, even though it doesn't appear in the form! We use the Visible column to set this user to be visible (i.e., available to be a Mentor). Without this trick, you would need to manually set the person visible after upload.‡
  5. If uploading Headshots, go to Google Drive and navigate to the Headshot (File responses) folder. It will be under a Folder named after Your Form (File responses). Make that Headshot folder shareable: Select On - Anyone with the link. This will make all photos added to the folder automatically accessible.
  6. Add URL of the form to Mentors Apply Here (Send TrustedPeer support the URL and we'll add it.). Also add the URL of the form to other locations where your potential applicants may see it.

That's the one-time setup. Then:

  • As form creator, you'll get emails as people submit. Review their responses. If not appropriate, set their row data Ignore to True
  • Periodically, export the Google Sheet as CSV, and upload using the Content Mgr dashboard, Users tab.

Note: TrustedPeer is not affiliated with Google in any way, and you are free to create a form to collect information using whatever tool you like. Ideally, your result should be captured in a spreadsheet, or CSV format.

Hat tip to Ben Collins for this ArrayFormula trick.

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