Leah Daniels
Leah Daniels

Stop Screening Qualified Candidates ‘In.’ You’re Just Screening Them Out (and it’s Costing you a Fortune) – Part 1

October 28, 2016 at 04:51 PM — Post

In a well-intended, yet cumbersome effort to screen out applicants who are completely unqualified, companies often dive into an overzealous process, driven by vendors of screening tools that urge unfortunate uses of features that are clearly not meant to be used in the first interaction between your company and new applicants. When these tools are implemented – which range from a number of screening questions, full assessments, background checks, requests for references and sometimes going as far as requiring the name and contact details of the applicant’s current manager – your organization is eliminating your best, most qualified candidates, and wasting money.

According to the BLS, the United States unemployment rate is 5.0%.  The active employment participation rate in the US is 62.9% (meaning 124.73 million people in October 2016); and the number of people actively looking is approximately 112 million.  That leaves at least 13 million of the US working population not looking for employment. The 105.8 million people who are actively looking, but not unemployed are not able or willing to go through a strenuous set of hoops for most jobs, while those who are casually looking absolutely will not.  

With one fell swoop, you’ve eliminated a huge percentage of your talent pool by making your process too difficult to get through. What you are left with is a small subsection of the population willing to go through your arduous apply process. How many great candidates did you lose? 10%? 30%? 70%? Hint: it’s higher than you think.  

We know that on average, any application over 15 minutes has tremendous negative impact on the conversion rates of clicks on the job compared to the number of applies it actually receives.  Few assessments and background checks rarely take less than 30 minutes with all the other candidate specific details required.

I remember when there was once a silent agreement between employers and applicants about the right time to ask for various information throughout the apply process.  Violating that agreement is like asking to meet the parents while messaging someone for the first time on Match.com.  A candidates knee-jerk reaction is often: “I don’t even know if I like you… why would I share that information with you yet?” Just like on Match.com, your company’s career site is the first step in a potential marriage between you and the candidate, and there are steps that must be taken at the right time and in the right order to make that happen naturally.

The impact of adding these extra steps is (or could be) any of the following:

  1. Added costs
    1. Unnecessary added costs of running assessments or background checks for unqualified applicants
    2. Significant increases in media costs to drive enough candidates to the top of the funnel to encourage them to start the process to get them through to the end
  2. High drop-off rates during your apply process
    1. Fewer candidates are willing to dedicate the time to complete your process
    2. Zero (or very few) applicants from a mobile device
  3. Lower quality hires
    1. Alienating your top candidates lowers the overall quality of the slate of candidates
    2. Highest quality, employed candidates are less willing to persevere through cumbersome processes

Now, I can already hear you yelling at me about the last bullet point, but hear me out… Quality is not the best against the group you sourced. Quality is the best of what’s currently available in market.  If you are only looking at who applies, your bar for quality is artificially misplaced.

By nurturing quality talent through your apply process, rather than screening them out, you will save your business valuable money and up the bar on the amount of quality talent you’re receiving. Your candidates are your consumers and they are true drivers of business growth. By creating a reasonable candidate experience and nurturing talent pools of candidates you haven’t hired (yet), you can significantly impact returns for your business.

See my follow-up post on an analysis of job ad conversion data to understand the ROI of creating a seamless, simplistic apply process.