Your Application Process Is Broken – and 4 More Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Ignore

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Sep 10, 2015
This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.

When was the last time you applied to a job at your company? In other words, when was the last time you saw your company through a job candidate’s eyes? While the experience job candidates have with your company may not be top of mind, understand its impact — not just on the candidates, but (perhaps more importantly) on the company itself.

If you don’t think the candidate experience has much impact on the business, you’re not alone: according to CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior study, 82 percent of employers feel the same. Further findings from the study, however, show that the opposite is true: 58 percent of candidates are less likely to buy from a company to which they’ve applied if they’ve had a bad experience during the application process.

Conversely, providing a good candidate experience is more than just good karma — it’s good business: 69 percent of candidates who feel as if they’ve had a good experience applying to a company are more likely to purchase products or services from that company. Additionally, more than 3 in 4 candidates would be willing to accept a salary offer that is 5 percent less than they expected if the employer created a great impression throughout the hiring process.

But what does it really mean to provide a good candidate experience? The 2015 Candidate Behavior study uncovered five common mistakes companies make when it comes to the candidate experience, and what they can do to right these wrongs.

Mistake #1: You don’t bother following up.

The majority of candidates (84 percent) expect a personal email response to their application, according to the Candidate Behavior study, and 52 percent anticipate a phone call; yet, the majority of employers (52 percent) respond to less than half of the candidates who apply.

How to fix it: Unfortunately, it’s simply not practical — or possible ––for some companies to send a personal response to every applicant. Fortunately, however, today’s HR software is a lot more sophisticated, and much of the technology available enables employers to set up automated responses with a more personal touch. Consider setting up automatic replies that invite applicants to join your company’s talent network so they can stay informed and learn about future openings with your company.

Mistake #2: Your application process is too complicated.

Forty percent of candidates feel the application process has become more difficult in the last five years. Of those, 57 percent complain the process is too automated and lacks personalization, 51 percent are frustrated they have no idea where they are in the process, and 50 percent say the process has so many more steps than it used to have.

How to fix it: Try applying to a job at your company to understand what applicants go through. Are there broken links? Do candidates have to upload their resume only to reformat it or fill in work history all over again? See where there’s room to improve the process and minimize the number of steps a candidate has to go through to apply. Want even more insight? Try applying to a job on a competitor’s website to compare the experience.

Mistake #3: You’re not where they are.

According to the study, candidates consult up to 18 resources throughout their job search — including job boards, social networking sites, search engines, and online referrals. That leaves 18 different touch points (read: 18 different opportunities) by which employers can connect with candidates; however, the majority of employers aren’t tracking where their candidates are coming from. Without any data on where their candidates are coming from, employers may be missing opportunities to connect with candidates where they are actually searching.

How to fix it: Employ tracking or coding technology (something 58 percent don’t make use of) to learn where candidates are coming from, and which areas are really worth investing in to get in front of candidates and market your opportunities.

Mistake #4: You keep candidates in the dark.

Thirty-six percent of candidates expect to be updated throughout the application process, and 41 percent expect to be notified if they weren’t chosen after they interviewed with the company. Yet only 26 percent of employers proactively communicate with candidates what stage of the hiring process they’re in. In other words, there is a major disconnect between what candidates expect from employers, and what employers are actually delivering.

How to fix it: Again, with so much technology available to allow for ongoing, easily applied communication with candidates, time constraints are no longer an excuse for not keeping the lines of communication open with candidates. Consider setting up an online talent community or network that makes it possible to communicate efficiently with candidates via email throughout the hiring process and beyond.

Mistake #5: You’ve forgotten about your employment brand.

Not only can treating candidates poorly can cost employers in more ways than one. In addition to the possible damage to their reputation, companies also miss out on money-saving opportunities. Eighty-three percent of candidates surveyed in the study said they were willing to accept a salary that is 5 percent lower than their expected offer if the company had a reputation as a great employer. These findings speak to the importance of having a strong employment brand. Unfortunately, however, less than half of employers (48 percent) have a clearly defined employment brand.

How to fix it: Pay attention to what both candidates and current employers are saying about you — from monitoring the conversations that are happening on social media to shining a light on employee and candidate surveys. These efforts will help you understand how your employees and candidates perceive you — the essential elements defining your employer brand — and uncover opportunities for improvement.

image from Shutterstock

This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.
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