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How to Create an Effective Application Process

Published August 30, 2023
Coworkers chatting at their desk

In a world of diminishing attention spans and abundant job opportunities, a streamlined and user-friendly application experience can be vital in securing top talent.

The application process serves as one of the first points of contact with potential candidates and sets the tone for their entire experience with your company. In this blog, we'll share tips to help you create an effective application process that captures the best candidates and showcases your organization as a top employer. 

Ways to Simplify the Application Process 

Simplicity is key when it comes to creating an application form that provides a positive candidate experience. Your application should include only the necessary questions and steps to acquire information that helps you decide whether a candidate will move forward.   

Limit the Clicks 

Job seekers want to find and complete job applications quickly. If your career site or search functionality on your website is complicated, you may be losing top talent. With every click it takes a candidate to complete your application, you increase drop-off rates. Ask yourself: 

  • Is your jobs/career section easy to find on your company's website? 
  • Is the job search function easy to use? 
  • Does your job search function have filters? 
  • Does the job applicant have to create a username and password? 
  • Can the applicant automatically import their resume from LinkedIn? 

Consider using quick-apply features on platforms such as Indeed and LinkedIn to condense the application process. Not only will you enhance the candidate's experience but also widen your reach to people who are deterred by lengthy applications.  

Limit Your Questions  

Being intentional with the questions you include in your application is essential. Review your form to ensure that you only keep the questions that reveal necessary information for screening.

Remember, there will be an opportunity to ask in-depth questions throughout the interview process, so only include the "must-ask" questions on the application. 

If candidates must possess specific skills or traits to move forward in the process, consider leveraging assessment tools. Not only does this help keep your form lean, but it also helps you objectively weed out candidates who don't possess the required skills or traits for the job.  

Remove Unnecessary Steps

Evaluate each step of the process critically to identify any redundant steps or fields. Nothing annoys candidates more than having to input their information multiple times. Incorporating features such as resume parsing to automatically populate fields using information from resumes prevents candidates from entering redundant details manually.  

Another feature to consider using is smart skip logic to tailor the application based on candidates' responses. This shortens the application process by eliminating irrelevant questions, making it more likely that candidates complete the application. 

 

Make Your Application User Friendly

With many job opportunities at their fingertips, top-tier candidates expect a straightforward and easy-to-use application process. In fact, 60 percent of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of the complexity.

Avoid losing candidates by ensuring your application has the following: 

  • Clear Instructions: Providing instructions at the beginning of the application lets candidates know what they can expect. 
  • Intuitive Navigation: Organize your application form logically to make it easy for candidates to complete it without feeling lost or overwhelmed.
  • Simple Interface: Use clear headings, bullet points, and spacing to break up text and make the application visually appealing. A clutter-free layout reduces cognitive load for candidates. 
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensure candidates can seamlessly apply, upload documents, and complete assessments from any device. 50 percent of job seekers have filled out a job application on their phone. If your job application is not mobile-friendly, you risk losing half of the qualified and available candidates.
  • Accessible: To make your application accessible, use alt-text for images, provide text alternatives, and use accessible fonts, colors, and sizes. 
  • Progress Indicators: Providing a progress indicator, such as a progress bar or clear labels, helps candidates manage their time and understand their journey. 
  • Save Application Feature: Allow candidates to save their application progress and return to complete it at a later time. This feature can boost your completion rates.  

Streamline Your Application with Technology  

Using technology to streamline your application process can help you to automate tasks, improve consistency, and make better hiring decisions.  

Leverage Your Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): 

An ATS can help HR leaders establish and maintain a standardized application form effortlessly. Consistency can enhance efficiency, reduce errors, promote fairness, and ultimately improve recruitment outcomes. 

Although ATS features vary, the majority can help you: 

  • Standardize forms: Using an ATS' pre-designed template allows your team to maintain a standard format while customizing applications to specific role requirements.
  • Maintain consistent branding: Customize your ATS interface to reflect your company's branding. Doing this provides a candidate with a consistent experience that aligns with your employer brand.
  • Improve communication: An ATS can tailor your outreach based on job type and a candidate's current stage in the hiring process, enhancing engagement.
  • Analyze metrics: Most ATS platforms can track a candidate's time in various stages. This information helps HR teams optimize their recruitment process for faster time-to-fill metrics.
  • Collaborate with team members: An ATS enables multiple team members to collaborate on designing and reviewing application forms. This feature ensures that relevant stakeholders vet forms before being published.

AI-Powered Chatbots  

HR leaders can program chatbots to provide instant communication and guidance to candidates. They are typically used to answer frequently asked questions, guide candidates through the application process, and even schedule interviews.  

AI chatbots can also help you establish a follow-up process to personalize communication for each applicant. This interaction keeps candidates informed and engaged throughout their journey and ensures a positive candidate experience. 

 

Ensure Your Application is Compliant  

Like every aspect of recruitment, your application process must be compliant with legal regulations and industry standards to provide a fair process and avoid legal troubles.  

Laws and regulations can vary greatly depending on location and industry. Consult with legal counsel to ensure your application language aligns with local laws and applicable regulations. 

Include Legal Statements 

When designing job applications, include relevant statements that protect your organization legally and ensure compliance with various regulations.

Here are some of the most included statements:

  • Equal Opportunity (EEO) Statement
  • Privacy Statement
  • Authorization for Background Checks
  • At-Will Employment Disclaimer
  • Accommodation Request Statement
  • Falsification Disclaimer
  • Data Consent Statement

Keep these statements clear, concise, and easily understandable to ensure candidates are well-informed and your organization is legally protected.

Avoid Discriminatory Questions   

An employment application should not include any questions that reveal an applicant's protected information. The EEOC and SHRM recommend avoiding questions about:  

  • Race, religion, or ethnicity
  • Age (unless used to verify age-related requirements)
  • Salary history 
  • Criminal history
  • Citizenship status
  • Military discharge information
  • Marital status

ATS systems often have built-in compliance features, helping HR leaders navigate legal requirements and data security concerns, which is crucial for today's data-sensitive environment.

 

Measure the Effectiveness of Your Application

Measuring the effectiveness of the application process is essential to identify areas for improvement, enhance candidate experience, and optimize recruitment strategies.  

Application Process Metrics

Here are a few metrics you can use:

  • Application completion rate: percentage of candidates who start and complete the application process.
  • Time-to-complete: average time candidates take to complete an application. Longer times may indicate the process needs streamlining.
  • Candidate drop-off points: identify at which step of the application process candidates tend to drop off. This can reveal specific issues that need improvement.
  • Application abandonment rate: the rate at which candidates abandon the application process before completion. High numbers can suggest technical glitches, complicated forms, or unclear instructions. 
  • Diversity metrics: analyze the demographic makeup of your applicant pool and assess whether it aligns with your diversity and inclusion goals. 

Candidate Feedback  

In addition to these metrics, collect candidate feedback about their application experience through surveys or follow-up communication. Their insights can provide valuable information about pain points and areas for improvement.  

It's essential to regularly test the application process from a candidate's perspective to identify any bottlenecks or confusing elements. Performing regular audits will ensure your recruitment efforts align with best practices and legal requirements.

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A streamlined and efficient application process demonstrates your organization's commitment to a positive candidate experience. By prioritizing simplicity, clarity, and accessibility, you'll have more candidates complete the application process and set the stage for a successful and engaged workforce. 

  • Topics: 
  • Talent Acquisition Strategy,
  • Recruitment Marketing