Trouble Converting Candidates? Here’s 9 Ways to Improve Your Online Job Applications

Trouble Converting Candidates? Here’s 9 Ways to Improve Your Online Job Applications

Mike Roberts

This week, we continue our series on how to improve candidate experience by focusing on the dreaded online job application. Read our last post on candidate experience best practices for candidate sourcing.

It’s no surprise that candidates dislike most online job applications. We don’t blame them either. Applying to a job online typically involves interacting with the same legacy applicant tracking system (ATS) software that job seekers were complaining about a decade ago. Now that candidate experience is at the forefront of the recruiting conversation, though, talent acquisition professionals are more interested than ever in figuring out ways to overcome this long-running problem.

Below is a list of online job application best practices you should be striving to meet. Some are easy to implement, while others may require ATS integration.  It might help if after reading this article you go through your own online job application to give yourself a refresher on how good or bad yours actually is.

1. Let candidates know how long the application will take

Setting a simple expectation up front such as “This application will take 20 minutes to complete” will likely improve the experience candidates have. This may sound non-important but candidates actually want to know what they’re getting into. Take the time to let them know.

2. Offer candidates the option to save applications for later

Many consumer and business transactions taking place online now account for the fact that users may be interrupted during the process. As a result, they offer the option to save progress and finish later. Candidates bring this same expectation into the online application process.

3. Show a progress bar indicating application progress

According to The Talent Board, 43% of candidates were able to view a progress indicator showing the percentage of the application they’ve completed in 2015. This level of visibility lets candidates know what to expect, and will improve candidate experience.

4. Make sure candidates can apply for your jobs on mobile

Today’s job seekers spend an incomparable amount of time on their phones. In fact, one study showed that Millennials touch their smartphones an average of 45 times per day. And yet, many of the world’s top employers still offer an outdated mobile experience—if one at all. Take a look at how well your own mobile recruiting experience performs and see if there’s room for improvement.

5. Simplify the process of filling in application information

One complaint that frequently surfaces from candidates is having to manually fill in the same information over and over on job applications. Make sure your resume parsing functionality works well, and also offer the option for candidates to apply with a social media profile. Candidates are relieved when this expectation is met, and far less likely to abandon the application process.

6. Let candidates know why you need certain information

The Talent Board explained that close to half of companies never explained why gender, race and ethnicity questions were asked in 2015. The more clarity in your process, the fairer it will seem to candidates.

7. Consider shortening your application

Across the board it seems as if candidates prefer shorter applications. The Talent Board reported that 43% of candidates spent more than 30 minutes completing an application, and 12% spent more than one hour. How long does yours take? User experience is key here. If the UX is terrible, then a long application will be even harder to complete.

8. Thank every candidate for applying

Send some form of follow up to thank candidates for taking the time to apply. According to founding member of The Talent Board Gerry Crispin, “There’s absolutely no excuse for not telling someone they didn’t get the job or thanking them for applying. You’ve got to be able to do that—and, at the very least, technology makes it easy to automate this.”

9. Provide the opportunity for candidates to showcase their qualifications

It’s arguable that from a fairness perspective, candidates want the opportunity to differentiate themselves from others during the application process. Again, much of the poor candidate experience related to applying to jobs online is the feeling that applications will never get noticed. The Talent Board reported that 50% of candidates were asked about their job-specific skills, and less than one-third were asked to take assessments. Consider how you can enable candidates to showcase their skills, experience, and knowledge—without doing so in a burdensome way.

Interested in candidate experience? Then you’re going to want to read our eBook, “The Path to An Exceptional Candidate Experience (According to Gerry Crispin.” Get it now!

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