Doug Taylor
Doug Taylor

Seven Roadblocks to Applies (And How to Solve for Them)

July 14, 2016 at 04:24 PM — Post

You’ve had that job opening for awhile now, and your boss is breathing down your neck to get it filled. You’re certain that you’ve dotted every ‘i’ and crossed the ‘t’s,’ so where are all the applicants? If this story sounds familiar, you might have application roadblocks.The user experience affects all aspects of your online hiring process. Today’s applications are riddled with provocation for user drop-off. Be it long applications, outdated software, or a lack of cross-platform compatibility, just go onto any forum and you’ll find job seekers bemoaning the apply process.

Boosting apply rates is good for everyone. You’ll resolve open positions much more quickly, and you can help build a positive image of your employer brand—that of a responsive and professional organization.

You may have done everything you needed to do, but there are a couple roadblocks that could be standing in the way of attracting the best talent for your organization.

Here are seven common monkey wrenches, and ways to move past them.

1. Job Descriptions & Titles

Your job descriptions are your first impression on an applicant. Make them clear, concise, and honest. Focus on goals and the evolution of the desired employee over description. It seems a little counterintuitive at first, but before long you’ll be a master at tracing the arc of the position.

Performance-based descriptions, such as “this person is responsible for managing a small team of developers,” is far more likely to attract capable applicants than “2-3 years of project management experience.” Applicants will decide for themselves if they’re capable instead of getting discouraged by the discrete experience requirement.

Titles are no less important—honesty and accuracy is key. Don’t use bait and switch tactics to encourage a click. Be sure to neatly articulate the position and make it search engine-friendly.

2. Length

Job seekers are applying to dozens of jobs every day. We’ve all been there: seven pages into an application with no end in sight. Worse, there’s always the possibility that a lengthy assessment will follow.

Many apply flows have seemingly endless pages to fill out and no indication of the user’s progress. This can be extremely discouraging for a job seeker, resulting in an unfinished application. Presenting an application on a single page will allow a user to see the entirety at a glance, and ensure that the application remains short.

Appcast has gathered data on apply rates, and in most cases, the length of an application has a dramatic effect on completion. Applications under 5 minutes have a 12.47% completion rate, compared to the 3.61% rate that applications 15 minutes or more have.

3. Old-School Tech

With a growing number of millennials in the workforce, it’s essential that employers meet the expectations of job seekers. This means that they must keep up-to-date with the latest HR technology.

For users accustomed to interactive and dynamic sites, the Web 1.0 feel of some application tracking systems is a real culture shock. Older ATSs can be unresponsive, difficult to navigate, or just plain hard to look at. There’s nothing more annoying than an application that resets itself after 30 minutes. Despite the second wind of vinyl records, retro career pages hold little appeal for job seekers.  It’s like handing someone a flip phone and asking them to check their investments. It’s possible, but far from user-friendly.

An older ATS is far less likely to be compatible with mobile devices. Even as recently as five years ago, mobile was barely a blip in recruitment. As such, these ATSs were designed without a passing thought for the age of iPhones. A newer ATS will ultimately be more accessible to today’s users.

4. Poor or Weak Employer Brand

Job seekers are connected and plugged in, and share info with each other about their job search. With the advent of sites like Glassdoor, job seekers evaluate companies and listings the same way they use Yelp to decide where to eat.

It’s imperative that your employer brand come through on all levels. From the descriptions, to your social media presence, to the way you treat applicants, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Consider the avenues where a job seeker would make judgments, and keep your ears open for chatter around the web.

Career pages are some of the last places online where it’s acceptable to have a spare or dull-looking design. This can at best hint at a lack of effort or care, and at worst, make an employer brand seem secondary. Ensure that your employer brand extends to every aspect of the apply process. Imagine a company touting itself as a cutting edge software incubator, but having an archaic application process!

Above all, the best way to build good buzz around your employer brand is to simply be a good place to work. Consider the user experience in your very own office. This may take some soul-searching, but happy employees will spread the word on their own.

5. No Exposure

Ensuring that your listings end up on the right sites and in front of the right audiences is key. Still, identifying job boards one by one and posting manually can be time-consuming. Implementing programmatic job advertising eliminates the guesswork from this process. Using this approach means allowing technology to intelligently optimize your job advertising by spend and exposure.

Take stock of your apply rates across various publishers and job boards. Identify your high performers and push them hard. You may need to adjust your bids to increase visibility. It may cost more in the short term, but it’s much more cost-effective than letting a position go unfilled.

Taking lessons from SEO and using keywords can make your listings more visible. Qualified applicants know exactly what they’re looking for, so learn to speak their language. Passive job seekers will also touch upon the same phrases every time. The goal is to post openings that are a mere Google away from job seekers.

6. Platform Compatibility Issues

Some ATSs have issues on certain browsers. An application needs to work for as many users as possible. Be sure to test early and often to make sure that your apply process works on a wide variety of platforms.

Google Chrome is the most commonly used browser, followed closely by Internet Explorer. Safari and Firefox both represent significant portions of the marketplace, as well. It’s key to understand the the differences in user experience across these platforms, as it can be surprisingly different.

Additionally, test your apply process with cookies. From time to time, the presence of cookies can make applying a frustrating and confusing process for the job seeker. You may need to include messaging instructing applicants to clear their cookies before starting the apply process.

7. Mobile (Un-)Friendliness

In web design, “scalability” refers to a website’s ability to adjust itself to whatever display it might be shown on—iPhones, smart watches, or even a good old-fashioned laptop. Your online application process should be scalable and accessible to mobile users. They represent a huge portion of today’s applicant pool, especially as workers skew younger, busier, and more tech-savvy. The conversion rate on mobile is a paltry 1-2%. In 2010, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but now nearly half of all job seekers look for jobs on their mobile devices.

A mere 20% of recruiters work at companies that have mobile-optimized sites. Many people are losing out on a sizable pool of applicants. If you’re using a cost-per-click model, you may may as well be burning your money.

A mobile-friendly site helps both sides of the equation. Job seekers will be able to more easily access your site and apply to your jobs. You’ll be saving heaps of budget, allowing you to spend on other openings and generate even more applicants.

For more tricks on how to amp up your applies and optimize your recruitment media budget, download our latest checklist here.

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