Step Away from the AppliCANTion

Posted by Judy Fort on February 11, 2016

The Burning Question of Scope Creep

How many times have you started applying to a job, only to be annoyed by the amount of information, number or steps, or how much time it takes to complete the online application? With all of the focus on the applicant experience over the past year, I'm surprised by the feedback I am still receiving from applicants, recruiters, and HR managers about overly complicated or too long application processes. What are the biggest complaints?

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  • There are too many steps in the application process.
  • There are too many places to enter the same information.
  • There is no feedback after completing the application.
  • There is no way to tell which applicants have not completed the process.
  • There are too many costs associated with changing how the online apply process works.

Most of these are not new complaints. In fact, the first three are things I've heard or experienced myself ever since I started applying for jobs as far back as high school. These are discouraging, to say the least. But are they also inevitable? I think not. So, what can you do?

  1. Evaluate your application process.

    Apply online to one of your company's job and take a look at things from the point of view of an applicant. Are there steps you have to go through that are overly time consuming? Are any of the steps ones that, as a recruiter, you don't use to help make a decision? Is there any information that you don't need to be collecting, or could collect at a later point in the hiring process? How many times are you being asked to enter the same information (such as your address)? At what points did you consider stopping?

    As you go through and think about these questions, you may find there are things you could change to make this process easier for applicants. For example, if you are asking every applicant to submit a cover letter, but you never read it, remove it from the application. Another thing that works well for some companies is to ask for basic information up front, then request any additional needs after a phone screen has been completed. Also, give applicants the ability to upload a soft copy of their resume and parse that information to fill out some of the most common fields.

  2. Build feedback into your hiring process.

    Most of the time, the applicants who don't get feedback are those that you aren't interested in hiring for the job. Whether that happens when they first apply or after they've had an interview, it is still discouraging to applicants. Some will call or email for follow up, requiring you to research what job they applied to and what status they are in, taking time away from other persuits.

    Instead of just leaving applicants hanging, incorporate emails notifications into your hiring process. Set up notifications that your online system can send automatically if someone doesn't pass screening questions or is declined after interview. Having these automated emails in place doesn't take any extra time for your recruitment team and lets applicant know where they stand.

  3. Work with a vendor who enables your administrator to make these changes in your system.

    It is true that many vendors charge you for every change you want to make to your online application process. If you are evaluating software, make sure to ask about costs associated with form or process changes, and whether or not you can do that yourself or it requires the vendor's help.

    We encourage our clients to continuously evalaute their process and make changes to get the most out of their online application. The Deltek Talent Acquisition tool supports you in making changes and tweaks to your process overtime, including removing steps or changing the application form.