We don’t want you to apply

I’ve been talking quite a lot recently about the candidate experience, and where it might be breaking down. Usually, when we are talking candidate experience we are really talking about the application process, and how much the technology isn’t really working.

When I first go in to a business to look at their recruiting process, with a view to taking them social, one of the first places I look is the drop off rates. I want to know the ratio of click-throughs to people who actually apply, and tellingly number of people who start the application process and then drop out. I’m looking to see how far they go and where they are taking the decision to quit. Looking for trends in where they are making the decision that it is not really worth the bother. If there is a lot of click-throughs but a low number of people starting to complete the application process, the problem usually lies in the landing page.

Typical reasons for drop off is things like taking people out of channel and in to an ATS, or to a career site. If the candidates are in Facebook, then the application process needs to stay there. The drop off rate when you don;t runs around 45% on average. Another problem is when clicking on a link takes you to a registration page rather than a job or job content. I think many people underestimate what a big step it can be for people to apply for a job. If they are not sold on the opportunity when you start asking for information then the chances are that they are going to have a change of heart. If they are arriving by mobile and need to bookmark the job or e-mail it to themselves, only 50% ever bother revisiting. Candidate research is showing that people are only applying for jobs that they think they have a chance of getting an interview.

Job seeker fatigue is showing that unless they think they have a good chance of getting through the application process, then they are not going to start it, and fear wasting time before ending up in a black hole. information on requirements need to be clear and transparent to get the conversions in to applicants.

With all of these barriers, my big question is why we ask people to apply at all? I don’t think it is really necessary in the data age. All the information we need as recruiters to make decisions on who we want to apply is for the most part available on-line, all we need to be able to do is access it. My view is that it would be so much more efficient for everyone if we asked people to express interest rather than push them in to a lengthy application process.

Recruiters don’t normally look at candidates until the technology has vetted them. What I’m seeing is that this is no guarantee that the candidates left will fit the bill, or that the best suited candidates may well have either dropped out been vetted out by the machines. It’s a broken process, and why do we do things this way? Is it because it’s the most efficient way of doing things or just because we always have? I suspect the latter.

If candidates were to express interest rather than apply, and the recruiters got a look at their profile and details, then they can make a decision on the direction the candidate should be taking. If their details look like a match, then direct them to the application process or assessments. If they look a good candidate but not right for the role, direct them in to an easy sign up talent network, and if they just don’t look right, you can manage the rejection process in the best possible way. This has to be better for candidates and i believe better for the recruiters. What do you think?




3 comments on “We don’t want you to apply

  1. You make some great points about the issues with the traditional job application process. Long applications are more likely to lose talented applicants than to keep them. With more job seekers feeling burned out by the whole process, it’s less likely that talent will stick around to fill out a lengthy application, no matter how great the job. This is a big reason why new technology like video resumes are gaining steam. Instead of spending a huge amount of time filling out an application, candidates can record a video resume giving employers the same (or more) information in 60 seconds!

  2. Great points backed up by scary data around what huge impact decisions on design and touch points make on candidate attraction.I think we as practitioners can overlook ‘brilliant basics’ ie ensuring the link to apply for jobs is visible, easy to navigate to etc and focus on making things visually compelling- both of equal importance
    Great article.
    Charu Malhotra

  3. Two other factors that lead to a high bounce rate / drop off… 1. There isn’t a relevant opening at the exact moment that the prospect happens to visit your careers page. 2. The timing isn’t quite right for them but they’re checking things out in the meantime.

    In both scenarios, it would still be highly valuable to capture their information so that the recruiter can ping them once the right opportunity becomes available and the timing is right. But if they don’t “apply” then there’s no way to do that. I agree. Every careers page needs a giant welcome sign where they encourage everyone to submit their resume (or LinkedIn profile – hello mobile users!) whether they see a relevant opening or not. Some companies claim to do this, but it’s usually in grayscale, minimized font at the bottom of the page. I think this should be the headliner… with the job postings (if you choose to still post them) as a secondary consideration lower on the page. My two cents.

    Very forward thinking of you, Bill. This article is 2+ years old. I like the way you think. 🙂

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