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Is your job application process turning off top talent?

Posted January 06, 2020 by

At job search site College Recruiter, we’re seeing far fewer employers with horrifically cumbersome application processes A decade ago when employers had their pick of talent, it wasn’t at all unusual for a candidate for an entry-level job to be forced to spend 20, 30, even 40 minutes applying to a job and having to hand over a wealth of highly personal and sensitive information knowing that it was incredibly unlikely that they would even hear back from the employer, let alone be hired.

Today, only the most stubborn of employers believes that it is a good thing to put candidates through a process like that, but the vast majority could and should be doing far better. Very few talent acquisition professionals have a lot of marketing experience, but those who do understand that a job application is to employment marketing what a sales lead is to consumer marketing. A car deal would never ask a prospective buyer to spend 30-minutes filling in page after page of information if interested in buying a car. Instead, the marketer gathers only the information that they need to properly qualify the buyer and not one question more. There are many questions that the marketer needs to ask, but not at the lead generation point and so they hold off on asking those questions until later in the process. 

In contrast, too many in HR justify asking questions during the application (lead generation) process because that information will be needed if the person is hired, but the effect is to ask these questions of 100 candidates who convert into five well-qualified applicants who convert into one hire. The questions are typically important, but not to those who are mere leads. The questions should be asked only of the five finalists and perhaps only of those who received job offers. By asking these questions too early in the sales process, HR kills the click-to-apply conversion rate and so needs to spend far more time, money, and other resources generating far more leads in order to overcome their poor conversion rates.

So, what benchmarks might an employer look to in order to gauge whether they’re asking too many questions or, perhaps, not the correct questions during the application process? Historically, most of our employer customers, when pressed, will admit that they do not track how many candidates view their job postings and so they don’t know their click-to-apply rate. In other words, they don’t know how many candidates they need to drive to their job posting ads in order to generate enough applications that they’ll hire the people they’ll need. Even fewer employers know how many apply starts they see, meaning how many candidates start but don’t complete the application form.

The good news is that the majority of our employer customers now know how many apply to their jobs, so at least they have a good handle on how many people tend to apply for each person they hire. And even more know how many quality applications they tend to receive as they tend to equate interviews with quality and that should be a pretty easy metric to pull from an applicant tracking system.

What are some typical metrics? For every 100 people who see your job posting ad, somewhere between five and 10 will apply. The shorter your application process, the higher that percentage will be. The more attractive the position, the higher that percentage will be. If you can increase your click-to-apply rate from five to 10 percent, you’ll only need to attract half as many candidates to your opportunity, which will greatly reduce your effective cost per application and time-to-hire, both of which will improve the bottom line of your organization.

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Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters, Industry News and Information | Tagged