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Online Job Applications Are Turning Candidates Off

By Small Business BusinessNewsDaily

Like most other processes in the modern world, recruitment has gone digital. Hiring managers and job seekers alike are abandoning the traditional paper résumé and turning to fully online job applications. While applicant tracking systems and automated keyword filtering have certainly made recruiters' lives easier, do applicants feel the same way?

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A recent study from recruitment technology company Jibe and research firm Kelton Global found that the present state of online job applications disappoints and even discourages the majority of candidates. In the survey, which polled more than 1,000 job seekers, 3 of 5 respondents said job applications are more difficult to fill out than other common applications, such as those required for a mortgage, student loan or health insurance. Nearly 80 percent described their job search as time-consuming and stressful, and many reported that they would be deterred from completing an application if they encountered tech hurdles (60 percent), couldn't upload their résumé (55 percent), couldn't follow up on the application's status (44 percent) or couldn't complete the application on a mobile device (20 percent).

For employers, job seekers' increasing dissatisfaction with online applications means losing well-qualified candidates who give up on the process halfway through. But a poor application experience could also damage your employer brand for other potential candidates. [The Future of Recruitment: 3 Major Trends]

"[Understanding] the actual impact a poor candidate experience can have — not just on attracting good talent, but also on a company's brand and bottom line — is an ongoing and sometimes uphill battle," said Jed Hamilton, director of corporate communications at Jibe. "The job seekers we spoke with expressed that when confronted with what they perceived as an outdated or unfriendly application process, they will move on to other opportunities, spread the word about the negative experience and even not support those companies in the future."

Joe Essenfeld, founder and CEO of Jibe, said that these statistics should be a wake-up call to companies that the current job application process is broken.

"As more tech-savvy candidates enter the workforce, the old way is no longer good enough, and that's a problem that has an impact not only on the hiring pool, but [also] potentially on a company's bottom line," Essenfeld said in a statement. "The good news … is that HR professionals are acknowledging the problem and looking for solutions to improve their processes to bring in and secure better-quality hires."

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If you want to improve the job application process at your company, Hamilton said you first need to ensure that it's mobile-friendly. The Jibe survey found that 70 percent of job seekers are willing to apply for a job via smartphone, but more than a quarter of larger companies said that not a single part of their hiring process has been mobile-optimized.

"Today's workforce, and certainly tomorrow's, prefer to use their phones and tablets for everything," he told Business News Daily. "If they can pay their bills and power their homes from their phones, why shouldn't they be able to apply for jobs? Companies need to realize that when prospective candidates encounter an unfriendly or nonexistent application process on their phones, they're simply going to take their talents elsewhere."

Mobile optimization is a good start, but the entire experience also needs improvement, from initial engagement all the way through to the hire. Data analytics solutions can help companies determine where candidates are dropping out, which parts of the process can be streamlined and how best to spend the company's recruitment dollars. As in all other aspects of business today, data can be used in talent attraction to make improvements and maximize efficiencies, Hamilton said.

Finally, Hamilton advised companies to be responsive when candidates apply through an online system. More than half of job seekers expect to be informed about their application status and receive a response from the company in a timely manner, but a very low percentage of them actually see these expectations met.

"There's nothing more powerful than personal experience," Hamilton said. "Provide feedback throughout. Be transparent about your process. Let candidates know what to expect. Our survey showed that job seekers want this type of engagement and interaction, but aren't getting it."

Originally published on Business News Daily