Five Ways to Improve Your Job Application Process

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The tighter the talent marketplace gets, the more challenging it is to speed up time to hire and to hold on to applicants before they get an offer from a competitor. Challenging — but it isn’t impossible. You have most of the tools you need to optimize your application process already; you and your team (and others outside of HR) will need time to evaluate, update and improve how your application process works for your candidates.

Strategies For Improving Your Application Process

Here are five strategies, as well as a downloadable checklist, for optimizing your application process.

1. Know your applicant drop-off rate

Your applicant drop-off rate is the proportion of candidates who begin your application process online, but do not complete it. This metric will help you benchmark where you are now and where you should be. Your application drop off ratio = # number of applications started: # of applications finished. For example, if 80 applications were started and 10 were finished, you have a drop off ratio of 8:1.

2. Start with mobile first

In 2020, a study performed by Appcast showed that 60.7% of job applications were completed on a mobile device compared to 39.3% on desktop. This means that the majority of job applicants are on a mobile device and if the process is not designed for ease of use and mobile responsiveness, they’ll abandon the application. 

Candidate receiving text messaging and mobile-forward application process to apply for relevant jobs

Related Article: How to Use Text Messaging to Improve Candidate Outreach

3. Evaluate your employer brand content

Are you still using employee videos from 2019? The entire world has (literally) changed in ways we never imagined since then. Consider how your photos and videos appear to someone who has never heard of your company and what the most important things your company wants to be known for right now.

Do you have flex schedules and optional in-office time for remote candidates? Is your new diversity program getting amazing results? If necessary, ask someone outside of your company that you trust to give you an honest analysis of your employer brand and listen when they talk. Then, work to build a stronger employer brand that makes candidates want to click 'apply.'

4. Prioritize candidate communication

Job seekers want (and increasingly expect) insight into two areas: how far along they are with the application as they’re completing it, and status updates as they go through the hiring process.

Whether you do this through automated or manual responses, the most important feature a candidate wants from you is to know what the next step is and how long it will take.

5. Test your own application process

Try to walk through your application process as if you were a candidate. Have others outside of your department do the same. If you work for a larger company, you might have an IT department to take the lead on testing, but many of us are wearing a lot of hats and I just added UX (user experience) tester to the list. In either case, we’ve included a checklist of items to consider when you and other test users are walking through your application process online. 

NOTE: This is an excellent place to get sponsorship from your leadership team by involving an executive in the testing process. How many on your executive team got their jobs by applying with your current system and how many years ago was that? Include an exec on your testing team so that you have eyes at the company leadership level on what kind of budget you need for 2022 to make necessary improvements.

Want More Application UX Strategies?

Download our Online Application Process UX Checklist here:

1-click Download

Topics: Recruiting Strategies

Updated October 12, 2021