Surveys of job seekers — often performed by recruiting firms — reveal a variety of reasons why would-be applicants may decide to bypass your company. Some individuals may complete the application but through that process develop a negative preconception about your business. This is particularly true with younger job seekers.
High on the list of problems mentioned in these surveys was the length of applications. Some companies believe that a daunting application process will weed out applicants who aren’t serious about working for them. Current thinking, however, suggests that highly qualified job-seekers recognize the value of their time and will simply move on.
How long is too long? One survey compared completion rates of application forms consisting of 50 or more questions with those having 25 or fewer questions. The completion rates for the longer forms was only about half that of the shorter ones.
Do I Really Need This?
Some employers ask for information that, while nice to have, isn’t essential for the first round of elimination. It’s a good idea to review the questions on your application and ask yourself how important it is to have those answers at this stage of the process.
For example, if your application asks for references, consider whether you’re likely to contact references before you’ve had a chance to interview a candidate. If not, save the request for references until later, or simply say, “Applicants selected for interviews will be asked to provide references.”
Am I Giving Enough Detail?
Also take a look at the level of detail provided in the job description. Any description with fewer than 250 words may not provide enough detail to attract desirable candidates. Then again, given today’s shrinking attention spans, erring on the side of excess will also backfire. Using bullet points to highlight essential functions of the job might yield better results.
In addition to providing a clear description of the job, tell applicants enough about your organization to help them determine whether they will fit in well. An employee who might be right for a particular job might not be a suitable candidate based on your company’s culture and mission. You can save your time and theirs by being clear about these issues.
User-Friendly Job Sites
An online application that can be completed in 15 minutes will get a far higher completion rate than one taking 30 minutes or more. The best online systems:
- Require minimal navigation steps,
- Explain the steps in the hiring process,
- Allow applicants to save information they have input, log out and resume the application process later without having to start from scratch,
- Include engaging content like employee blogs and testimonials, photos and videos that highlight the most appealing features of your organization,
- Don’t require applicants to cut and paste job history information that is already contained in uploaded resumes or LinkedIn files, and
- Feature a unified log-in for your career site and the job application function.
Job application systems also need to be mobile-friendly. It’s not merely a matter of “responsive” pages. Mobile-friendly job sites make it easy for applicants to upload resumes via cloud-based storage sites like Dropbox and Google drive.
Staying in Touch
Even though job application systems generate automatic application acknowledgement responses, it’s easy for applicants to subsequently fall into a black hole. If job candidates don’t hear anything from you for many days while the hiring process is still active, they may draw the conclusion that they are no longer under consideration, and move on to another opportunity.
For qualified applicants who didn’t receive job offers from you, it’s important to keep them updated. Candidates whom you’d like to reapply at a later date for similar positions will be more likely to take you seriously if you have not left them hanging.
Soliciting feedback from actual job applicants — those who received offers, and, if possible, those who didn’t — can help ensure that your process is as user-friendly as it can be.
Find the Best Candidates
Whether jobs like those you need to fill are abundant or scarce in your labor market, a carefully designed recruiting and application process may help you find the best candidates available. It may also help avoid bad hiring decisions and a needlessly time-consuming hiring process.