Article Quick Links
Article Quick Links

Providing a great Candidate Experience is important when wanting to improve application conversion rates, reduce time to hire, and enhance Employer Branding. Starting early in the recruitment process with a solid application process can set candidates up for success and position the business as an attractive employer.

A typical job opening attracts around 250 CVs. After the initial screening, only 4-6 of the candidates are invited for an interview. This means that around 97% of the applications will be rejected from the get-go.

How do you make sure that the 4-6 applicants you pick are not only a good fit for the job, but also passionate about working for you? How do you become their preferred choice?

The war for talent is upon us and 59% of European employers are facing difficulty attracting candidates. As the playing field shifts and your candidates become the ones calling the shots, continuously optimizing your application process is imperative to succeeding in your hiring efforts.

This applies from the minute the candidate lands on your career page and starts reading your job ad to the last touchpoint of your communication (regardless whether it ends with a rejection or an offer).

Decrease Drop-Off Rate As Early As the “Apply” Button

How you write your job ad is important, yes. The remaining steps of your application process are just as much so.

However, what your candidate sees as soon as they click the “apply” button can already make or break their experience and their desire to work for your company.

A report showed that as much as 73% of job seekers abandon their application if the process takes them over 15 minutes. On the other hand, 49% admitted that they would consider applying instantly if the process appeared to be simple. 

Evidently, providing your candidates with a quick, relevant and convenient application infrastructure is the first step to establishing your company as an attractive workplace.

Especially when 4 in 5 candidates believe that the Candidate Experience they receive during an application process is a direct reflection of the company’s values

When you put Candidate Experience first and make it more attractive for your candidates to submit their job application, your task of screening for the best talent also becomes faster and more accurate. All the while building a great Employer Brand. 

It’s money out the window to miss out on great talent just because your application process is outdated.

So follow the 4 steps below to give your candidates an application process that allows them to showcase relevant skills conveniently and set yourself up for making more informed choices.

1. Put Yourself in Your Candidates’ Shoes (Or Let Us Do It for You!)

Do you recall your own experience applying for your current position? Have you implemented any changes since then, or is it the same process as 5 years ago? 

The first step to making your application process candidate-friendly is experiencing it the way your candidates would. 

Click that “apply” button on one of your open positions and follow the steps required to submit an application. Ask yourself the questions:

  • How long did it take you to prepare and submit all the necessary steps?
  • Were you able to showcase the most relevant skills for the position easily? Were there enough form fields to do so? And did you feel like you knew what the recruiters were looking for?
  • Did you encounter any unnecessary steps, questions that seemed redundant or technical limitations that made you feel like you were jumping through hoops to get to that final “submit” button?

Since 93% of job seekers report unclear application instructions as the primary cause for a bad Candidate Experience, this exercise is bound to surface some areas for improvement.

Download a Free Best Practices Checklist

Follow our Best Practices Checklist and go through your application process as if you were a candidate. Make a note of any areas for improvement and refer back to the checklist to implement them. The more candidate-friendly you make it, the higher your application conversion rates.

Application Process Checklist Download

Or if you want to find out about how to harness the power of first-hand candidate feedback, read more about our Candidate Experience Analytics Platform

2. Make It Quick

Let’s face it: candidates want to spend 5 minutes or less on submitting their application.

Asking them to fill out endless pages of questions or upload essays explaining their motivation is not only going to scare them off even before hitting the “submit” button, but it will create a maze for you and your recruitment team to go through in the initial screening round. 

Plus, candidates usually juggle a couple of applications simultaneously – the ones that take too long to submit will easily get abandoned in the large pool of open positions out there.

Don’t lose qualified candidates to competition due to a tedious application process.

You can improve the application conversion rate (i.e. the amount of candidates who actually submit an application after reading the job ad and beginning the application process) by as much as 365% if you reduce the length of your application process to 5 minutes or less. That’s huge.

Do you remember the number we started this article with?

Only about 3% of the applications you receive will be invited for the initial interview – do you have time to read 250 cover letters only to decide 6 of them will go through? Is the effort you’re asking your candidates to put in proportionate to what they will get in return?

Asking applicants to write a cover letter, submit a CV, a portfolio and 20 long form questions only for them to receive an impersonal, 2-sentence rejection email a month later will give them a negative Candidate Experience.

And they will likely tell their friends and family about it (actually, 72% of job seekers who have had a bad Candidate Experience will share it online or directly), hurting your Employer Brand in the process.

If your job description clearly outlines what is required for the role, as well as what’s expected in the application process, a CV and/or LinkedIn profile, together with 2 or 3 qualifying questions, should provide you with enough information to successfully complete the first screening stage. 

Plus, your candidates will be much more likely to actually submit their application (365% more likely!). 

3. Make It Relevant

Google produces over 6M results upon searching “beat ATS”. But why do candidates worry about having to beat your Applicant Tracking System?

It is often the case that employers unintentionally set qualified candidates up for failure by not updating their job descriptions.

Candidates are likely to omit relevant skills on their resume when the ad isn’t explicit enough. As a result, qualified candidates may fall through the cracks during the ATS screening process.

Implementing an ATS allows you to easily manage and screen through job applications, but it shouldn’t be something candidates need to learn how to “beat”. 

Candidates are more likely to drop off before they even click “submit” if they aren’t sure what the job ad is asking for.

According to our recent study, 56% of candidates believe the most challenging part of the hiring process is being unsure about how their application is going to be assessed or what skills they should highlight. This breaks down to:

  • Distinguishing what skills are required and which are preferred (18.7%)
  • Structuring the application (13.3%)
  • Knowing which qualifications to emphasize in the application (13.2%)
  • Knowing what the application will be assessed on (11.1%)

Make your application process is explicit enough by giving your candidates instructions that allow them to:

  • Tailor their application to the specific skill requirements (both soft and hard)
  • Understand how to showcase them effectively via the way they’re asked to submit their application.

This way, candidates are able to provide you with the most relevant information about themselves, allowing you to make better informed decisions and giving them a platform that values and respects the effort they make to submit an application for one of your job openings.

Have You Considered Scrapping the Cover Letter?

Or moving it to a later stage in the recruitment process? 

Recruiters spend around 20 seconds scanning their candidates’ cover letter and CV in the first screening stage. Thus, a cover letter at this stage in the application process might be a redundant requirement.

Our Candidate Experience Managers suggest 3 alternatives:

  • Include a short personality test, such as the Predictive Index, as part of the initial application process
  • Ask candidates 2-3 specific short-form questions
  • Include it further down the process

Personality Test
A personality test does not take long to complete and gives you a good indication of the candidate’s profile more efficiently than a long cover letter. 

A good assessment framework equips you with data to fall back on when giving candidates feedback (whether it’s positive or constructive), informs the interview process and can be related directly to your job requirements.

Short-Form Questions
Narrowing down your requirements to 2-3 short-form questions will give candidates a clear idea of what you’re looking for and whether they match your expectations. 

Specifying your requirements explicitly by asking relevant questions will decrease the amount of unqualified applications.

Giving candidates room to clearly outline how they match your expectations makes their application more tailored and efficient to complete.

Move Them Down the Application Process
Cover letters are time consuming to write for the candidates and to read for the recruiters.

Thus, it is more efficient for both parties to include cover letters further into the process, once the initial screening has been completed and there are about 5 candidates in the process.

Plus, it is mostly Hiring Managers who are interested in reading them and they don’t meet the candidates until the 3rd step of the process.

4. Make it Convenient

We live in a digital world where 86% of active applicants search and apply for jobs on their mobiles. So if there is one thing you should take away from this article it’s to make sure your job application process is convenient and mobile-optimized. 

But what does that mean?

Intuitive Application Flow
Structure your application process intuitively and reduce the amount of steps/clicks your candidates need to get to the “submit” button.

Optimize for Mobile
Make your application interface user-friendly for mobile and tablet devices. Get rid of any unnecessary page redirects that might lose their progress.

Give Them a Chance to Save Their Progress
If your application process is on the longer side, give your candidates the option to save their progress and return to the application at a later time.

Easy Document Upload
Give your candidates an easy way to upload any necessary documents, e.g. to auto-populate information from their LinkedIn profile or upload their CV directly from Dropbox or Google Drive.

Do Not Ask Candidates to Register
Asking candidates to create an account in order to submit their application will heighten the entry barrier and increase the likelihood of scaring off top talent. 

Unless they wish to stay up to date with your other job openings or have a clearer overview of their submission(s), creating an account is redundant.

If anything, give them the option to sign up after their application has been submitted.

Cover All Your Bases
Depending on the nature of the position you’re hiring for, your candidates might have different ways for showcasing their skills.

Make sure your application forms accounts for multiple uploads beyond the resume (e.g. portfolio files or samples) and gives room to upload relevant links (e.g. online portfolios, websites or past projects).

In Short

Sharpen your competitive edge by providing great Candidate Experience. And the earlier in the recruitment process you start, the more solid the foundation. 

If your application conversion rate is low, your current application process might be scaring off top candidates and damaging your Employer Branding.

A solid application process that sets candidates up for success will also make the job of choosing the right candidate easier, reduce time to hire and position the business as an attractive employer in relation to competition.

To succeed in today’s war for talent, you should:

  • Put yourself in your Candidate’s shoes to identify gaps in your application process
  • Make sure it takes 5 minutes or less to complete
  • Ask the right questions
  • Optimize for mobile
facebook logotwitter logolinkedin logo

This is some text inside of a div block.