Does Your Job Application Have Abandonment Issues?

What if you knew that within the first hour of posting a job application, ten candidates started filling the application out? Pretty good, right? But what if we told you that six of those candidates QUIT filling out the application halfway through?

Recent statistics suggest that this is what’s happening: as many as 60% of applicants quit filling out an online job application right around the mid-point. If the number sounds high to you, many hiring experts suggest that the actual rate may be even higher. And their reasoning is simple: candidates often get turned off when a job application is either too long or too complex.

Doesn’t a long job application “weed out” weaker candidates?

Once upon a time, hiring professionals believed that a longer job application was better. As they saw it, the long job application helped screen candidates who were either less qualified, less motivated, or both. Even today, some recruiters and hiring managers still trust this model. But for job seekers, the opposite is often true.

When an online job application is too long or too complex, employers may lose out on job candidates from across the talent pool.

Today’s job seekers are well-aware of how valuable their time is. In an online environment, they expect job applications to keep up with the medium itself.

  • They want to be able to complete job applications in real-time, rather than having to save and return to them later.
  • They want online applications to function in a web-friendly way, from how it looks on screen, to how it works across devices (laptops, tablets and phones).
  • They don’t want to deal with redundancies like multiple log-ins, keying or pasting information from their resume into the application, or answering similar sounding questions as they scroll from page to page.

 

Previously we’ve written about the importance of testing your own job application. It’s a great way for you to determine if you’re asking the questions needed to find the best candidates for the job.

Here are additional questions to ask yourself when you’re creating or revising a job application. When you avoid these red flags, you can help keep candidates engaged with the job application process from start to finish—and may lower your bounce rate accordingly.

  1. How many questions does your job application ask? The recruitment company Appcast found job applications of 25 or fewer questions have twice the completion rate than applications with 50 or more questions. If the goal is to encourage candidates to complete your online job application, fewer questions is often better.

 

  1. Is your application redundant in any way? Ensure the application doesn’t ask unnecessary questions that will solicit similar answers.

 

  1. Is your job application smartphone-ready? Across all demographics, smartphones are becoming more ingrained in our lives by the day. When your job application is smartphone-friendly, you may reach a wider range of job applicants and allow them the ability to fill out your application at a time that’s right for them—whether they’re taking public transportation between job interviews, sitting in a café, or are in the lobby of a movie theater during the coming attractions. Don’t believe us? As one study puts it, mobile recruiting is becoming the “new normal.” And this starts with the job application.

 

As you continue to refine your job application, remember the ripple effect it sends across your entire organization. As we pointed out in a previous post, it takes an average of 52 days to fill an open position. This gap in your org chart may put serious strain on existing employees and the company’s bottom line.

One way to begin bringing this number down is to increase the number of qualified applicants who finish your job application.


Ready to automate your application process?

myStaffingPro’s application tracking software gives you tools to create powerful, easy-to-fill job applications. Candidates can pre-populate fields via social apply or resume parsing, cutting their application time and increasing your application completion rate. On-the-go candidates can even fill out applications via mobile devices.

Our support and integration teams are based in the U.S., and will configure your software to fit your unique process and needs. Our solution even includes candidate support, so applicants with technical questions can contact us with software issues—instead of their potential employer.

 

Contact a Staffing Pro Today

 

The Art of the Auto-Reply: Responding to Job Applicants

 

If you read our earlier “Test Your Own Job Application” article, then you know that the last step of the test involves the auto-reply message. To some, the auto-reply is a small formality. Not to us. Let’s go deeper into the auto-reply to review ways to connect with applicants.

Yes, your auto-reply message to a job applicant matters—maybe even more than you think.

Consider the applicant’s point-of-view for a moment. If they’ve applied for a job via your automated system, they’ve probably spent some time on your website, got to know the facts about your company, and perhaps even started following your company on social media. They’ve decided that things look and sound like a good fit for their next career move.

Most likely, up until the moment they click “send” on their job application, it’s been a one-way relationship. The auto-reply will be the first time the job seeker has received anything from your company back to them.

Sure, a generic auto-reply is acceptable, but you can also use it as a way to differentiate your company. According to a recent report on HR recruiting trends, company culture is the #1 thing candidates wish they knew about your organization before they accept a job offer.  Why not use this opportunity to make a great first impression?

The auto-reply tells job applicants that there’s a human on the other end of the process.

Whether you’re reviewing an existing auto-reply, or creating a new one, now is a good time to consider your language and tone. If your marketing department has developed brand guidelines, by all means consult them before writing your auto-reply. If you have a copywriter in your organization, reach out and have them assist in the development of your auto-reply content.

Short of that, there are a few ways you can keep the tone both personable and professional.

  • Opt for an active sentence structure, rather than passive. (Active: “We have forwarded your email…” Passive: “Your email has been forwarded…”) The active voice is warmer, and has a little more personality.
  • Keep sentences short and conversational. For example: “A member of our HR department will be in touch,” as opposed to, “Shortly each applicant will be receiving an email reply from a member of human resources division.”
  • Provide some general information about what happens next in the process. Job applicants will appreciate having a sense of next steps. An example may read like this: “Expect to hear from us within the next two weeks. We will provide you with an update of your application status at that time.” And if you go this route, remember that white space is your friend. Compose your note as a series of stand-alone sentences, rather than a blocky paragraph. Your readers will appreciate the chance to scan.

Here are a few other ways you can make sure your auto-reply to job applicants is working for them and for your company.

  1. Personalize the message as much as possible. Depending on your email configuration, and how your auto-reply is synched up with the job application, you may be able to personalize your auto-reply by including the candidate’s name, and the job title they’ve applied for in your reply message.
  2. Include ways for applicants to find out more about your brand. Not all of your job applicants will have started following your company’s social media feed, signed up for your e-newsletter, or read the last blog post. The auto-reply is a great way to invite them to do so. Include social icons, links to your website, or e-newsletter buttons in order to deepen a potential employee’s connection with your company.
  3. Add a small degree of professional networking. Include links to other job posts, and provide them with a way to forward posts to friends or colleagues who might be interested.

 More than anything, remember that the person on the receiving end is connecting with your company—quite possibly for the first time. While an auto-reply is automated, it’s still a chance to show that your company is human.

Test Your Own Job Application: And See Things Like a Job Applicant

Almost everyone, at some point, has filled out a job application. Maybe it was for a summer job, or a retail position—or perhaps your current role started when you completed an application through an automated hiring system.

Filling out a job application typically isn’t a memorable experience.

The act of filling out a job application suggests that an applicant is looking for a change, or a new start. Maybe they’ve been in the job market longer than they’d hoped. They might be dealing with stress or anxiety. They also might be very excited to be applying to what sounds like their “dream job.” Whatever the case, it’s important to consider an applicant’s point-of-view when creating a job application process.

Getting beyond the application itself, remember that this could be their first interaction with your company. Even if they don’t apply now, you still want to create a connection.

Our point: keep sight of the applicant’s experience. One of the easiest ways to do so is to fill out your own job application.

When you fill out your own job application, you gain and entirely new view into the experience.

No matter the industry or career, job applications should gather information required to determine if the applicant is qualified for the position. A best practice is to review your application with legal counsel to ensure you are not asking questions prohibited by local, state or federal law. With that said, you can still tailor your application and process in ways that improve the experience for job applicants.

If you’re using an automated hiring system, here are some steps to help you test your job application process:

  1. First, set up a personal email account, or create a new one if you don’t want to use an existing one.
  2. Apply for one of the jobs that’s listed on your company’s automated hiring system.
  3. As you apply, take notes, and consider a wide range of questions.
    1. Are you asking the right questions to get the information you need? Will an applicant’s answers help you decide whether or not to take them to the next step in the process? Can they communicate their talents, and explain how they’ll fulfill the demands of the position?
    2. Can you automate the process? For instance, can your system automatically pull data from sites such as LinkedIn, or from an applicant’s resume or online portfolio? If so, does your system format their information in a professional way? Or does it take an applicant even more time to re-format the info? In addition, are applicants able to upload or write a cover letter that explains their interests in your job, and why they’re a good fit?
    3. What does the application say about your company or your department? Does it “look” and “feel” like your company and brand? Is your company’s logo on the application? Have you included your colors and fonts? Does the application reflect your marketing?
    4. Finally, how long does it take to complete the application? Studies show that longer applications lead to lower completion rates. You want your applicants to feel like filling out your job application is a good use of their time.

Once you’ve completed the job application, the testing process continues.

After you click “send,” it’s time to test the auto-responder:

  1. Do you receive an auto-reply message right away? Do you even get one?
  2. How does the auto-reply message read? Is it too formal? Not formal enough? Does it match the tone and voice of your brand? (Keep an eye out for our upcoming “Art of the Autoreply” post, which will dig deeper into the auto-response message.)

While there’s no one-size-fits-all template for the “perfect application,” here are three tips to consider as you reevaluate your own job applications:

  1. Ask questions that fit the job, and build the application accordingly. In some fields, professional experience is the most important factor; in others, education or required licenses matters more. The right mix, depending on the job, will help your applicants provide the information you need.
  1. Strike a balance. You want job applicants to feel that your company respects their time. Create questions that flow into one another, and use multiple choice questions, as well as “click all that apply” options where you can. Remember: a job application that takes a few minutes to fill out will drive a higher completion rate than one that takes an hour!
  1. Be consistent in your style. The tone should fit the voice of your company and brand, and reflect the atmosphere of the department that’s hiring. Along these same lines, consider ways to improve the interface so the process is as user-friendly as possible. An interface that is easy to use—and reflects the company’s personality—will help job applicants move through the application quicker.

Ready to automate your application process?

myStaffingPro’s application tracking software gives you all the tools to create powerful, easy-to-fill job applications. Candidates can pre-populate fields via social apply or resume parsing, cutting their application time and increasing your application completion rate. On-the-go candidates can even fill out applications via mobile devices.

Our support and integration teams are based in the U.S., and will configure your software to fit your unique process and needs. Our solution even includes candidate support, so applicants with technical questions can contact us with software issues—instead of their potential employer.

Contact a Staffing Pro Today

Should Businesses Be Worried About Their Job Application Completion Rates?

Sixty percent of job seekers quit filling out job applications in the middle of the process. That’s a lot of drop-outs. But is that a good or bad thing?

One school of thought says you’re actually weeding out the bad applicants. Another says job applications rates are one of your most important HR metrics. Is either right?

The Psychology of Job Applicants

When a potential job applicant sees an opening and begins the process of filling out an application, they’re not necessarily committed to completing it. They have a lot of unanswered questions about the position and the company, and they might be in the early stages of researching a career move.

Whether or not they complete the job application can depend on a) how badly they want the job, b) how likely they think they are to get it, c) how much time they have and d) how difficult they think the application will be to fill out.

If we look at each of those items independently, we can start to see what kind of applicant might complete a lengthy application, and what kind might not

Are Desperate Job Applicants the Best Applicants?

You want a hungry applicant, right? Maybe. While a sense of urgency and follow-through might be strong qualities to have in an employee, it could also mean an applicant with a low skill set and mitigating factors that have left them unemployed for a long period of time. A difficult-to-fill-out application can weed out passive applicants who already have jobs, have a strong skill set, and who are casually looking for a change. That’s not a good thing.

Don’t Let the Job Candidates Make the Selection for You

Why not let candidates self-select? If a candidate thinks they’re a good fit for the job, and is therefore willing to fill out a lengthy application, wouldn’t you rather have them complete the application than the candidate that doesn’t? Again, maybe. The problem is, maybe that certification you’ve listed isn’t that important, especially if the candidate is a certified genius.

If a candidate doesn’t have time to fill out your application, then they’re going to be too busy to concentrate on their job, right? This isn’t necessarily an accurate assumption either. On-the-go people might be the very people you want in the position, especially if you’re looking for an outgoing sales rep or a high-level executive.

Meet Jill, the Employee That Didn’t Complete your Job Application

So let’s put these factors together and compare a fast application process versus a slower application process.

Let’s look at Jill, a sales representative who has been rapidly increasing sales at her current job, but was passed up for a promotion. She’s been discussing it with a friend at a café. Her friend goes up to the counter to purchase a latte. While Jill is waiting, she casually pulls up Indeed, and stumbles upon your job posting. It’s a perfect match for her job skills.

In Case A, there’s a social apply option, so that Jill can apply for your job in 5 minutes with her LinkedIn profile before her friend returns with her latte. She applies.

In Case B, Jill clicks on the apply button and sees a page that makes her fill in data manually. She doesn’t apply.

Bad Job Applications are Bad Karma

According to a recent recruiting trends report, the information candidates most want to know about a company when considering a potential employer are its culture and values.

Don’t make a bad first impression by asking job candidates for more information than you need up-front, or, worse yet, forcing them to double-enter data. When job candidates feel like their time isn’t being valued, they may assume you won’t value their time while they are employed as well.

Smart Applicants Want Smart Applications

Savvy, in-the-know job applicants generally want to see that your company is also savvy and in-the-know. If your job applications look like a throw-back from 1997, it may imply your company is also behind the times.

If you’re looking for engineers or professionals that understand the current market and user-experience, you’ll want to demonstrate that your company is also current.


How to Increase Your Job Application Completion Rate 

It’s a simple equation. The faster an applicant can fill out a job application, the more likely it is that they’ll do so: a five-minute application gets a higher completion rate than an hour-long one.

Most large and mid-sized companies use an application tracking system (ATS) to assist with creating, tracking, and submitting easy-to-fill job applications to career websites or online job boards. myStaffingPro is a premier ATS for HR professionals. Recruit candidates, seamlessly flow applicants through interviews, offers, background checks, and onboarding with our trusted software solution.

Contact myStaffingPro Today

Optimize Your Applicant Experience

Optimize Your Applicant Experience Treat your candidates like customers. Making a great first impression is essential to the applicant experience. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on optimizing your recruiting process.

Put yourself in the applicant’s shoes by testing your application process:  

  • Search for a job that your company is hiring for.
  • How did you find the job?
  • Where is the job posting listed?
  • Can you apply through a mobile device?
  • Can you login with a social media profile?
  • Can you upload your resumé into the system easily? If so, does it automatically fill in your information or do you have to manually enter it in?
  • Can you make edits along the way?
  • Are you updated about your application status?
  • Can your easily check the status of your application?

If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, than it’s time to re-evaluate your applicant experience and upgrade to a more user-friendly system that can incorporate usability techniques into your online application process. Take a look at our usability  tips.

 

Flexible and Scalable Onboarding

Flexible and Scalable Onboarding An important way that organizations can improve the effectiveness of their employee management system is through onboarding. Onboarding is the process of helping new hires adjust to their new job quickly and smoothly.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management an effective onboarding system should follow the appropriate foundation of the ‘Four C’s’, these are: Compliance, Clarification, Culture and Connection.

A flexible and scalable onboarding software system can help your HR Team effectively onboard a new hire by connecting them to:

  1. Company information such like your employee handbook, policy guidelines, employer obligations and employee rights.
  1. Any forms you may need them to fill out such as the FormI-9 , IRS W-4 Form, state withholding tax forms, direct deposit authorization form, and a voluntary self-identification form.
  1. The initial introduction process with a welcome letter and video so that the new hire is able to become familiar with the company culture.

New hire information should  be entered and submitted onto a secure, encrypted site with dual authentication.  With an easy “save and exit” feature, the new hire should be able to return to the documents at any time. Giving them the flexibility to grab any documentation that is required.

This in turn can help make the new hire feel welcome, secure and confident with their transition into the new role. By creating a seamless onboarding process, your HR Team can streamline the new hire’s information accurately and efficiently.

To learn more about how onboarding software can give you the flexibility your HR Team needs, click here.

Creating a Positive First Impression During the Application Process

Recruiters understand acquiring top talent is a process that starts the moment a candidate hears about a job opening, and continues throughout the application process. Every interaction with a prospective candidate is a touch point for your brand that shapes the candidate’s opinion of your business, and impacts the chances they’ll accept your offer.

So, what elements matter most when you’re developing an effective recruiting process for your firm? Here’s a closer look at how companies can create a positive first impression during the application process.

Clear, Measurable Job Postings
A job posting is an important tool in the recruiting process. Its first role is to sell qualified candidates on the position by outlining the specific responsibilities a job entails. Job postings can help screen out unqualified candidates, while getting strong contenders excited about applying. Once a hire has been made, job postings and descriptions can help employees succeed at their jobs while providing a helpful metric for managers to evaluate performance. Write great job postings by giving specifics about the role and help candidates see how the position is significant to the business.

Offer Mobile-Optimized Career Sites and Applications
Job seekers are often looking at job opportunities and submitting applications from a wide range of mobile devices. Is your company’s career site and application optimized for smartphones and tablets? If not, you may be projecting an outdated image. Take the time to determine if your career site is branded and functions well on a range of devices. How easy is your application to submit via a mobile device? Simple features such as LinkedIn integration can greatly improve the user experience. Offer a mobile optimized career site and general application to help demonstrate to candidates that your company embraces the latest in technology.

Prioritize Communications with Candidates
Nothing is more frustrating to applicants than applying for a job and never hearing back. To build a positive impression that shows you’re organized and value your team, develop a clear communications plan. Every candidate should feel that your company’s communications have been prompt, professional and proactive. Acknowledge each application as it comes in through an automated responder. Send prompt, personalized rejection letters to applicants that you’ve screened out for specific positions. Provide regular status updates and communications to candidates that you’re considering or are actively interviewing, to keep them feeling connected and in the loop. Using an applicant tracking system can make it easier to hit your communications metrics.

Invest In an Applicant Tracking System
Creating a positive impression with applicants during the hiring process can help you attract your industry’s best candidates. Staying organized is essential to achieving this goal. An applicant tracking system offers recruiters and managers several benefits. It’s easy to post jobs, promote them online, and create mobile-optimized applications. Communications, such as acknowledgments and interview requests, can be sent automatically. Screening questions can be added to the application process to enable recruiters to more quickly vet candidates. Finally, all information related to candidates and the process is centralized in one dashboard, which gives internal recruiters quick access to the data needed to make important decisions.

Creating a positive impression during the recruiting process offers businesses several advantages. Investing in an applicant tracking system is one of the best strategies to get the organizational, communications, and job advertising capabilities needed to reach that goal.

The Importance of Saving Often

How often do you start something and then get distracted? Maybe you leave an email in your draft folder for days, or you have countless windows of Internet Explorer open to remind you of various tasks that you need to complete. For applicants, they might leave during the online application process to look up dates, fix a resume, or to find their references’ contact information. Regardless of the reason, it is important to allow them to return to the online application process at their leisure.

According to our analytics, last month, myStaffingPro applicant tracking system had 1.9M applicants use the system. Of these, 35% returned to the online application process.

5.9% of applicants returned to the online application more than 9 times.

In addition to allowing applicants to return, it is essential to save their responses and allow them to continue to complete the application. Applicant tracking systems can typically be broken up into two online application process types. Those that:

  1. Display the entire application process on one page.
  2. Separate the process into small sections.

With a single page design, the online application often turns into a LONG data entry form with just one save button at the bottom. What happens if the applicant steps away from the computer? More often than not, the candidate will lose all of the information that they entered and will have to start from scratch. Imagine asking 35% of your applicants to retype information just because they did not complete it the first time!

The alternative is a process that is broken up into smaller sections. This method saves the applicants’ responses as they progress through the online application process and allows them to leave and return at any time.

Which process would you rather use?

BYOD for the Job Application Process

Do you know what your candidates are using to complete the online application process? We had a guess, but I have to say that we were surprised by the results. Last month, myStaffingPro had 1.9M applicants use the system. This candidate sample used more than 20 browsers to apply on various devices! Surprisingly, the most popular browser wasn’t Internet Explorer. It was Google Chrome!

39% of applicants are using Google Chrome to access the online application process.

The most popular mobile device, less surprisingly, was the Apple iPhone at 23% of mobile traffic. The most unusual methods for applying included using the PlayStation and Blackberry. (Sorry BlackBerry fans.)

Although it is hard to guarantee that a SaaS system will work on every device and browser combination, it is important to provide applicants with several methods of entry. Ask your applicant tracking system provider what browsers and devices they support. Review their system requirements against your website’s metrics and those of your target market. Make sure that you aren’t losing out because your tracking system doesn’t support the most popular browsers or devices for target market.

What Features Do The Best Applicant Tracking Systems Offer?

Today’s high-tech applicant tracking systems are an essential part of the hiring process. These technologies integrate features that allow your team to access the information needed to recruit top talent for your company, through a single interface. Formerly time-consuming activities such as posting and marketing jobs, sourcing resumes, and communicating with candidates become a streamlined process with the right technology. Yet, there are a number of systems on the market and it can be hard to know which features to prioritize and what to look for.

Robust recruiting support

The top applicant tracking systems include a wide range of recruiting features. It’s important to assess both back-end performance and front-end capabilities. On the back-end, consider how much control and customization can be done to support your company’s hiring process. How easy is it to develop a job description and seek the internal approvals needed to post the job? Can the system easily post the job to your career site, as well as any external job boards that you’re working with? What level of visibility do you have into data and analytics? On the front-end, look for applicant tracking systems that offer a great candidate experience.

A streamlined candidate experience

A great candidate experience requires software that makes it easy for prospective applicants to find jobs, submit applications, and stay in communication with your company throughout the hiring process. The right applicant tracking system makes it easy to create a dedicated careers site and promote jobs via job boards, social media, and other channels. The application process should be simple and focused, with the ability for candidates to save their information and apply from a variety of devices. Finally, communication tools that enable your team to acknowledge applications, respond to applicant questions, and send automated updates to keep everyone informed while minimizing administrative work. A positive candidate experience is important from both a branding and employee relations standpoint.

Social media and web integration

Today’s social media and web-based tools give companies an edge in reaching the right candidates. The ability to share your jobs via social media or targeted job boards can help you find high performing, tough to reach candidates. Social sharing features allow candidates to share jobs with friends or to easily post your available positions to an industry discussion board or LinkedIn Group. By choosing an applicant tracking system that enables this kind of organic promotion, companies can gain more exposure to a broader range of highly qualified candidates with minimal effort.

End-to-end integrations

Companies use a wide range of partners in the hiring process to handle everything from verifying references to randomized drug testing. It’s important that any system you’re considering has the capabilities to integrate with services that you use today, as well as those you’re likely to add in the future. Some common products and services that may integrate with your applicant tracking system include assessments, background screening, drug testing, consulting, HRIS systems, job boards, payroll providers, and more.

Data, analytics, and reporting

Human resources relies on data for many purposes. HR departments need access to hiring data for budgeting, financing planning, internal performance reviews, board meetings, and even government reporting. The best applicant tracking systems offer the capability to track a wide range of data, from how many applications a specific position received to the number of days needed to fill a position. Customized reports and an intuitive interface should make it easy to view and analyze any relevant data to your unique specifications.

The right applicant tracking system can dramatically reduce the workload associated with recruiting, while improving the candidate experience and helping you make better hires. myStaffingPro offers an industry leading solution that’s appropriate for a wide range of businesses. To learn more or arrange for a software demonstration, contact us today.