Today’s competition for top talent is fierce. In fact, a Career Plug Candidate Experience Report found that 58% of job seekers declined a job offer due to poor experience.
While your company may have exciting career opportunities, you could still miss out on top talent if applicants don't feel appreciated.
In a recent webinar, 4 Fixes That Will Generate More Quality Applicants, we teamed up with Rally Recruitment Marketing to share how to improve your candidate experience. And, believe it or not, you don’t have to rip and replace your current applicant tracking system (ATS) to do it.
In this post, we’ll outline how to identify problem areas in your job application flow and how you can fix them.
Does your candidate experience betray your brand?
For many companies struggling with candidate experience, their brand and job application process do not align.
You may have a warm, welcoming culture on the inside, and a beautiful career site to boot. But, if getting in the door is too cumbersome, candidates will never realize what you have to offer.
Too often, companies focus on the career site while neglecting the apply flow. If this process takes the applicant to a page that looks drastically different from your brand, the experience feels disconnected and subpar. In fact, nine out of 10 candidates abandon the job flow application because it’s too frustrating.
Is your apply flow broken?
Using a data-backed approach is the most effective way to assess your apply flow. Start by examining your career site conversion rate.
Review the number of applicants to your career site, and study the application conversion rate—in other words, the number of complete applications versus the number of applications started.
How many people intend to apply versus how many people actually do? That data point is your success rate.
If you simply don’t have the data to analyze, don’t worry; you can still do a qualitative analysis. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes starting with the job posting, clicking through to your career site, and moving through the application. How easy (or onerous) is that process?
Making your apply flow seamless is absolutely critical. All of your talent acquisition, recruitment marketing, advertising, and branding efforts drive to this singular conversion point all candidates. And the average candidate journey is not too pretty.
By far, a broken apply flow causes the most friction in the candidate experience. It’s inefficient (you’re filling a leaky funnel), creates a negative impression of your brand, and it slows the hiring process.
In the process of secret shopping your own apply flow, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it complicated and confusing?
- Does it takes too long?
- Are you asked to reenter information?
- Is the experience poor on mobile?
Cumulatively, all these points of friction cause candidates to tune out.
Fix your candidate experience without changing your ATS
Once you’ve gathered the facts via data analysis or qualitative assessment, it’s also a good idea to audit your hiring competition. What are they doing well that you could incorporate into you process? With that punch list in hand, analyze your improvements with these things in mind:
- Is the branding consistent?
- Does the navigation change?
- Is the quality of the experience the same from start to finish?
1. Create an experience as unique as your brand
Think of your career site like a Ritz-Carlton lobby. Each subsequent touchpoint should fortify its splendor. As the candidate moves through the apply flow, does it make them feel that way? Or did they just rent a room at the Bates Motel?
Making your apply flow match your career site may feel like a tall order, but it’s not as complicated as it seems. Start by owning these assets:
- Browser icon
- Address bar
- Look and feel
- And flow
When you implement an out-of-the box ATS solution, it dictates your apply flow experience. The browser tab, URL, and footer all reference that company’s name and branding, rather than your own. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
2. Defer upfront account creation
The average person in 2022 has 100 digital passwords to manage. So, if the goal is to get people through the application process as quickly as possible, forcing candidates to create yet another online account before applying is a huge deterrent.
Make it easier on candidates by lacing your system and the ATS together in a way that saves them time. Pre-fill as much information as possible (from their LinkedIn profile, or accepting files from Google, Dropbox, etc.). And then, using all that data, create their account in the background, combining your talent network and ATS registration into one step at the end.
3. Shorten your application
In the race to win top talent, every minute counts. If your application takes 15 minutes to complete, people are 365% more likely to quit the process.
Review your application and eliminate all unnecessary questions. Many companies add components to the process over the years and fail to perform ongoing audits. Getting your application as short as possible will help you stay ahead of the competition.
4. Simplify the apply flow
As shared above, a lengthy application is a sure-fire deterrent. Top candidates have too many other options and they won’t tolerate an inefficient process. As part of simplifying your apply flow:
- Remove anything that recruiters don’t need or anything that's not immediately necessary
- Create abbreviated flows for key roles
- Keep content short and sweet
- Don’t program for the exceptions
- Let recruiters do a second pass for promising candidates
Another key so simplifying your apply flow? Optimize it for mobile. Rally Recruitment Marketing found that 83% of recruitment marketing engagement occurs on a smartphone or tablet. And mobile optimization increases mobile conversion by 620%.
A mobile-optimized apply flow means:
- A rich experience through responsive web design
- An enhanced UI for touch/gestures
- Optimal content formatting and layout
- And full branding
You don’t have to rip and replace your ATS
Take it from Piedmont Healthcare, it’s possible to improve your candidate experience without starting from scratch. This organization recruited high-quality nursing talent in a short period of time—at the height of the healthcare crisis. Here are its successes:
- 60% of applications from mobile and trending up
- Application process down to 2.5 minutes from over 25 minutes
- Application completion rate over 70%
- Hired eight cardiovascular operating room nurses within two months
You too can improve your apply flow by customizing your ATS, and seek third party solutions to help you get there. It’s key to maintain the data integrity of your system of record, so avoid tools or platforms that take data outside that system.