5 Things Candidates Hate About Your Job Application Process
Last time, we raved about why candidate experience matters. This week, we thought we’d follow up by flagging the top 5 application problems that leave candidates badmouthing you.
This is not a new topic, nor is it a complex one. Candidate experience has been discussed for years and boils down to something as simple as treating others as you would like to be treated – but huge numbers of recruiters are still getting it wrong.
If you’re guilty of any of these, it’s time to re-work your application process:
The Black Hole. Most candidates have been there: they poured hours into a CV, filled out an application form, crafted the perfect cover letter – then nothing. Even if you’re still living in the administrative nether world of email applications, there’s no excuse for at least setting up an automatic response to acknowledge the receipt of an application, then copying and pasting a template for rejections.
Photo by NASA
2. Poor communication.
It’s not quite the Black Hole: you’re in touch with the candidate, which is a start. Unfortunately, the information you’ve given is too vague. A real example: I interviewed for a job last year. The interview went well but I was warned at the end that it would be “a while” until I heard back from them. A month passed; I assumed that I hadn’t impressed them as much as I thought. I accepted another job. Another 3 weeks later, I got a call from the recruiter offering me the job.
Granted, it’s possible that something had been going on behind-the-scenes. Perhaps another candidate accepted the role then let them down. The recruiter assured me, however, that the delay was the result of a senior hiring manager’s holiday and even sounded surprised that I had written the job off, reminding me, “We did say it would be a while until we’d be in touch...”
The moral? Be clear and realistic when you set expectations, or you’ll lose good candidates. If you think it’s going to be 3 weeks before you can get back to someone, tell them exactly that - then deliver.
3. Long forms.
Recruitment software is a powerful tool; but, like all powerful tools, it can be misused. We all love watching data from application forms appear in our database automatically – but remember that it’s not quite magic. Candidates are filling in that data for you, and they’re not keen on never-ending forms either. The shorter your form, the more likely candidates are to make it to the bottom of it.
4. Out-of-date ads.
You don’t go to the supermarket and expect to find out-of-date food on the shelves; nor do candidates expect to find out-of-date ads on your careers site. If you let a candidate fill out an application form, upload a CV and write a covering letter only to be told that the vacancy expired a month ago, don’t expect them to be any more pleased than you’d be if you walked out of the supermarket with a month-old kipper.
5. No contact details.
Who loves receiving covering letters that begin, “Dear Sir/Madam”? Nobody - and candidates don’t like sending them either. Including the recruiter or hiring manager’s name on the ad doesn’t just give the candidate a name to put on the cover letter either; it gives the impression that they’re dealing with a human being, not a faceless, nameless web form.
I’ll re-iterate: none of this is news. These 5 mistakes centre around the absolute basics of recruitment, and that’s what makes it shocking that so many companies are still making them. If you felt a guilty chill as you read over any of them though, don’t worry: they’re easy to remedy, so get on it!
Previous posts on candidate experience:
Why You Need to Start Caring More About Candidate Experience
Recruitment isn't a Process - It's an Experience
Online Candidate Journey: Is It Important?