9 Things Candidates Hate About the Job Application Process

You might think your job application process is pain-free, but would your candidates agree? When the market is manic, it’s easy to take your foot off the gas when it comes to providing a great candidate experience, but this can have a real impact on your numbers.

So if you’re struggling to make placements right now and you think it’s all down to talent shortages and candidates being flaky – it’s worth considering if your process is part of the problem too.

Here are 9 common reasons candidates drop out of the application process:

1. The candidate can’t self-select

candiddate-job-applicationsYou don’t provide candidates with enough information in your job ads to allow them to decide if the role is a right fit for them.

For example, maybe your job description is vague, you use too much jargon and you don’t state the salary bracket. If you’re doing all this intentionally with the hope that you’ll pull in a broader scope of candidates to fire over to your client, this is not a good strategy.

More often than not, this puts even the best-fit candidates off applying. Would you spend time on an application if you didn’t understand fully what the job entails? Me neither.

2. You don’t provide your direct contact details

Nobody likes reading cover letters addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and candidates don’t like sending them either.

Including your name and contact details (or the hiring manager’s) on the job advert doesn’t just give the candidate someone to address the letter to. It also makes them engage more as they know they’re dealing with a human being, not a faceless, nameless web form.

3. You ask for too much information

70% of employers think their job applications take less than an hour to complete, but candidates say it’s more like 3-4 hours. That’s a huge discrepancy between what employers/recruiters think the candidate experience is like and what it actually is like.

And what’s even scarier is that 73% of candidates say they will abandon a job application if it takes longer than 15 minutes to complete.

When was the last time you applied to one of your own jobs online? The only way to really know if you’re asking too much is to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and give it a go.

4. You don’t use direct apply on job boards

Candidates who apply through job boards absolutely hate it when there’s no direct apply option – even if they couldn’t tell you exactly what that is.

To the candidate, having no direct apply option means they have to spend time filling in all their personal details on the job board page only to click ‘apply’ and be redirected to your agency’s website and have to fill in the same details all over again!

If this is happening in your application process, you’re definitely losing candidates.

But the good news is, when we implemented direct apply on Stepstone job boards, we saw a 400% uplift in application numbers. Any good recruitment software will offer direct apply options with their job board integrations - here’s how it works.

5. Your agency isn’t discoverable on search engines

SEO-3If you’re job ads aren’t client-branded, the pressure falls on your agency’s brand to stand out to candidates instead.

When was the last time you Googled your agency?

Candidates will almost always do their research before they’ll consider applying to the job, so you want to make sure you’re visible enough on search engines to give them the info they’re looking for.

They’ll be looking for reviews on your Google My Business page, testimonials on your website and probably check out your social media presence too. If this sort of info is missing, they’ll ditch you for another agency that has a more trustworthy brand.

6. Your application’s not mobile friendly

You might think that applying for a job on your phone sounds ridiculous, but it might surprise you to hear that mobile applications surpassed desktop job applications in 2020!

66% of candidates now apply for roles entirely on mobile, so if your application forms aren’t mobile optimized, this will be frustrating people who are interested in your roles.

Applying for jobs on smartphones isn’t just something for Gen Z either. According to a study by Glassdoor, mobile applications are most popular amongst the 35-44 years age bracket.

7. Your communication is poor

When you’re communicating with candidates, it’s important to be really clear and honest so you manage their expectations. There’s absolutely nothing worse than waiting weeks to find out if you’ve been offered a job, or even just an interview.

If you think it’s going to be 3 weeks before you can get back to someone, just tell them that – and then deliver.

As much as 75% of applicants say they never hear back from a recruiter after submitting a job application. Recruitment technology has made it so simple to trigger automated emails to go out to candidates at different stages of the process, so there’s really no excuse to leave them hanging.

8. You ghost them if they don’t get hired

ghosting-candidates-minIf we’re being really honest, I’m sure we’re all guilty of neglecting our rejected candidates. When you’ve got a load of other jobs on your desk, second-place candidates just aren’t so high on the priority list.

But this is a huge bugbear for candidates. If you ignore the candidate as soon as they don’t make that first placement you put them forward for, you can be sure they’ll never want to work with you again.

Top billers know how to capitalize on every rejected candidate and keep them close until the right opportunity comes along.

9. You never ask for feedback

You might think your process perfect, but there are a whole load of candidate surveys out there that suggest it’s probably not. And the only way you’ll know for sure is if you ask for feedback from those who have recently experienced it.

Candidate’s also appreciate having a voice in these situations – just ask them how they found the process and if there were any areas you could’ve done better. And most importantly, take the feedback with dignity. Don’t get defensive or try to challenge them, as this will seriously backfire.

If any of these situations sound familiar to you, don’t worry - you have a brilliant opportunity to make some small changes that will give your candidate applications a really good boost.

For more ideas on how to make your candidate journeys awesome from start to finish, download the eBook below.

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Katie Paterson

Katie once headed up the Firefish blog and marketing team. She now works as a freelance copywriter and continues to contribute to our award-winning blog.

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