Conventional wisdom about online job applications encourages employers to create long, multi-step applications.
Supposedly, an extensive questionnaire and lengthy process ensures that only the best and most motivated applicants finish the application. In practice, though, talented candidates are lost during this process. Many jobseekers give up whenever they encounter frustrating experiences. To create an effective job application, you need to minimize the percentage of people who abandon the process.¹
Surprisingly, well-qualified candidates regularly abandon job applications that are too long or inconvenient to complete. Some human resources professionals claim that the majority of online applicants eventually quit before turning in their applications.
This means that hiring managers never hear from most of the people who expressed interest in a particular job, limiting the employer’s hiring choices.¹ ²
Paying attention to application issues such as ease of use, length, and compatibility with smartphones may help you gain access to more qualified candidates.
Simplifying online applications
Typically, online job applications ask for copies of the applicant’s resume, references, and work history. Applicants spend significant amounts of time uploading documents and writing-in or copying information. Many applications ask for cover letters, answers to lengthy quizzes and permission to investigate candidates’ financial, or personal backgrounds. This information is all very helpful in making hiring decisions, but can make the application complicated enough to frustrate applicants. ¹
Keeping the application short may boost completion rates. Completion rates may increase as much as 365 percent when the job application is shortened to five minutes or less, according to the recruitment firm Appcast. Their data also found that increasing an application from 25 to 50 questions reduced the completion rate by 50 percent.
Candidates seem to have little tolerance for extensive applications. If you want jobseekers to finish applying for your jobs, you will need an application that is short and easy to complete. ¹
Instead of asking for everything in every online application, consider asking only for information you need in order to move candidates to the next step of the hiring process. Make it easy to upload information by choosing a system that is compatible with popular cloud-storage software such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Choosing a custom job application system can also work, as long as you have control over how long the application is and how much information candidates need to apply for jobs. ¹ ²
Mobile-friendly applications wanted
Many people want to apply for jobs on their smartphones. Applying through a smartphone can be tricky. Some applicants give up if they cannot immediately apply on their phones.
According to a 2014 jobseeker survey conducted by Jibe, Inc., one-fifth of applicants give up completely on Internet job applications if they cannot complete them via smartphone. Survey participants also expressed interest in applying entirely on their mobile devices. In fact, 70 percent said they are willing to do so.³
To make sure your job application can be completed on a smartphone, develop a simplified interface that adapts to mobile browsers and does not require extensive uploads. Your applicants probably do not have their resumes saved on their phones and probably cannot edit documents from smartphones, so avoid requiring unnecessary document uploads.²
Respect your applicants’ time
In-demand, highly-skilled candidates often value their own time too much to push through inconveniences and redundant questions. Someone with fewer options in the job marketplace, however, might be more motivated to complete bad applications. Because most employers are looking for the best candidates they can possibly hire, they should create applications that respect and value jobseekers.¹
Whenever possible, ask only for as much from your candidates as you actually need. If you can remove a section from your online application without harming the hiring process, then you probably should. Simplify every section, ask for fewer uploads and create a mobile-friendly process. Finding the right candidates is probably worth the effort.
- Zielinski, D. “Study: Most Job Seekers Abandon Online Job Applications.” Society for Human Resource Management. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/study-most-job-seekers-abandon-online-job-applications.aspx. Published: May 2016. Accessed: June 2017.
- Thygesen, K. “How to Make the Mobile Job Application Experience Great for Candidates.” Entrepreneur. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279981. Published: August 2016. Accessed: June 2017.
- Jibe. “Jibe survey shows a poor application experience deters one quarter of candidates.” https://www.jibe.com/news/recruitment-survey-reveals-significant-disconnect-between-job-seeker-expectations-and-reality/. Published: September 2014. Accessed: June 2017.