5 ways to improve your job application process

Hiring & Recruiting Job seeker navigating an online job application process

Think you’ve already converted a job seeker when they hit “apply now?”

Think again.

You can still lose a qualified candidate at any number of stages throughout the application process.

In fact, according to a CareerBuilder survey, three in five job seekers are lost during the application process, thanks to everything from lengthy forms to overly-complex questions. And, according to the Jibe Talent Acquisition Survey, 23 per cent of seekers say that if they have issues with an online application, they’d never apply to that company again.

Do these five things to improve your application process – and ensure that your qualified candidates are making it right to the end.

Keep your instructions clear

Unclear application instructions are one of the top seeker complaints about the entire hiring process. According to Software Advice, 93 per cent of seekers point to it as an area for improvement.

Keeping your application process simple and easy to understand starts with the job posting itself. Provide a clear call to action for your seekers. If you want them to apply through an online application system, include a link. If you want them to apply via email, include the correct contact info. If your candidates are expected to provide specific inclusions with their application – such as a reference number, portfolio, salary expectations, or references – spell this out ahead of time so that it’s not a surprise in the middle of the application process.

If you use an online application system, candidates should know exactly what to expect once they begin.  Include an overview at the start that tells them what information you will be asking for, how many questions there will be, and roughly how long the process will take.

The best way to make sure your process is simple and easy is to try it out yourself. Do a mock application, and work through the steps as a seeker. Ask others at your organization to do so as well. If you find yourself getting confused (or worse, frustrated) with the process, it’s time to give it an overhaul.

Keep the process short

A seemingly never-ending process is one of the most common reasons why job seekers abandon an online application. According to CareerBuilder, 70 per cent of seekers want the application to be fewer than five pages, and 83 per cent want to answer fewer than 15 questions.

To simplify your application, assess your list of questions and assign them to one of three piles: questions that are absolutely necessary, questions that can be removed, and questions that can be asked later in the screening process.

For the questions that are necessary, considering shortening them as much as possible, and making them as easy as possible to answer. For example, offer multiple-choice or drop-down options over longer answers. In general, keep it as short as possible. According to CareerBuilder, 33 per cent of job seekers think the process should take 11 to 20 minutes, and 24 per cent of seekers think it should take five to 10 minutes.

Make it mobile-optimized

According to Jibe, 20 per cent of job seekers will give up on an online job application if they can’t complete it on a mobile device. More and more seekers are hunting for jobs on the go, and they increasingly want to be able to finish the application process without moving over to their desktop.

To optimize your application experience for mobile, make sure your pages are properly formatted for a range of devices, and are easy to read. Try to reduce the number of actions or components on each page of the application, and allow applicants to upload their resume directly from Dropbox, Google Drive, or LinkedIn.

…and user-friendly

This is a broad one. There’s a never-ending list of ways you can make your application process easier to use. In general, though, think about the features that would make any kind of online form easier to fill out. Is there a progress bar to let you know how far through the process you are? Can you save your application mid-way through and finish it later? How straightforward is it to upload documents and portfolios? Can applicants review attachments before finalizing their submission? Is it possible to apply, share, or link to an application form through social networking sites?

Offer a confirmation email

Job seekers always want more communication, and this is particularly true when it comes to the application process. Once they send in their resume, candidates want to know that a human being received it. And when they don’t get a confirmation, they instantly lose faith in the company. CareerBuilder’s Applicant Experience study found that 44 per cent of seekers that didn’t hear back from an employer after applying ended up having a worse opinion of that employer.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix that doesn’t require a lot of time commitment. You can automate the process by using a dedicated email for incoming resumes, and setting up an out-of-office reply acknowledging receipt of the application. Just remember to include contact info, as well as a clear outline of the next steps. Your candidates will thank you.

See also:
Everything you need to know about candidate experience
How the world’s most popular anonymous social app fixed its candidate experience

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