Spoiler alert: By taking a hard look at your application process, you can attract great candidates and save your TA team a ton of hassle.
Most employers would solve their hiring headaches if they would prevent their job applicants from having to jump through so many hoops. It’s stunning to me how little is being done to solve the epidemic of no contact, no show behavior from candidates – or what’s otherwise known as ghosting.
I was enjoying coffee with an old friend a few weeks ago and the topic of side jobs came up. He mentioned how he’d been applying to different jobs that he could do in his spare time. He shared how incredibly tedious it was to apply to some of these jobs. Uploading his resume only to find that the application form had mixed up his info and he had to re-enter it by hand. Finding duplicate questions within different parts of the application. Not being able to apply on his phone. Every time he ran into a situation like this, it left a bad taste in his mouth about that employer. These employers weren’t making friends by causing candidates to jump through hoops that weren’t needed.
Think about that. A perfectly qualified candidate wasn’t applying to jobs because the process was too involved. The application took so much effort that he didn’t consider it worth his time to apply when so many other opportunities existed. All because the employer was stuck with a hiring process that they hadn’t revisited in 20 years.
Unfortunately, this is a common pitfall that many employers suffer from, all the while complaining that “no-one wants to work anymore.” Employers still haven’t learned that applicants don’t have to put up with outdated application processes.
This goes beyond making the job application process easy. You can certainly create a job application that only asks for basic contact info and a resume and be done. Just look at how easy Indeed has made it to apply to jobs.
But, if you’re looking for the right people to apply so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of unqualified applicants, here are my tips for creating an intentional job application process that will make your life easier, cut down on candidate ghosting and attract the candidates you actually want.
1) Build better job ads
A good chunk of job descriptions are simply copy and paste jobs.
However, this is the first impression you’re giving candidates of your workplace. Would you show up to a date wearing clothes picked out for you by a total stranger? If not, why are you using someone else’s job ad to make a good first impression?
Writing good job ads takes effort to do well because it uses a marketing mindset, i.e. putting yourself in the shoes of the other person. I always recommend hiring a recruitment marketing agency to do this. But, for those without a hiring budget, here are some simple tips:
- Use plain language. Skip the fanciful wording that sounds like you’re trying to impress a bunch of lawyers. Only use jargon if you’re actually trying to attract experienced candidates who know those terms.
- Ask yourself (or the hiring manager) what success looks like in this position. What does a typical day look like? Bonus tip: if you can record the hiring manager answering these questions, you have 80% of the words you need for your new job post.
- Start job ads with a candidate-centered question or statement. Paint a picture of what the job is buying them in life. That first paragraph is critical for making a good impression. Don’t waste it on talking about your history as a company.
- Don’t include all of the details about your company. Save those for follow up communications. (See point 5 below.)
2) Include pay in the job ad
Before you think that you can squeeze a few more years out of not sharing pay ranges with candidates, consider that Indeed.com has already implemented a system where they estimate the pay range and publicly advertise it to candidates. Plus, candidates can share their pay on Glassdoor.com for anyone to see.
As an employer, wouldn’t you rather own the conversation around pay rather than letting Indeed or past employees inform your candidates?
Besides, including pay means you won’t waste time on candidates who aren’t a good fit and have unreasonable expectations for what you can pay them.
Including pay in job postings is, in my opinion, the single fastest way to start making things easier for your HR team by preventing ghosting, as candidates don’t have to jump through hoops before they find out what wages they can expect.
3) Simplify the job application process
Ask yourself, “What information is absolutely necessary for us to collect in this job application form to get the candidate to the next step?”
A job application shouldn’t be a catch-all of information for your recruiting team. By only asking the most important questions, you can determine if you should follow up with them in the next step of your hiring process.
Many teams haven’t looked at their job application in years. If that’s you, I recommend “fake applying” to your jobs.
How easy was it to do? Did it take less than five minutes? (This is the gold standard for job applications.) Were you asked only relevant questions, or could some of them be saved for a qualifying interview?
4) Invest in a good Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Applicant Tracking Systems aren’t made equal. Many of them are simply tacked on to an HRIS program almost as a side note. They’re mostly designed for the needs of HR. Very few do a good job of making sure candidates have a good experience – e.g. not making candidates register an account before they can apply. That being said, there are a few good options out there that give you some abilities to create a decent candidate experience.
Some must-have features to look for (or avoid) when it comes to a good candidate experience include:
- The ability to text candidates.
- The ability to automatically have follow-up communications sent via email or text with information about next steps, such as a video or infographic breaking down what the candidate can expect next.
- Absolutely NO “registration” portals. This will kill your application completion rates since you’re asking candidates to register to apply to your job. This is a feature that is unfortunately all too common in legacy ATS programs and that new ATS providers know to avoid.
- The ability to track candidates from sources such as online ads. This is important because it allows your recruitment marketing team to properly understand what channels and content is working to draw applications.
- The ability to integrate with a separate career website. Why is this important? Because a custom career site is typically going to offer a better user experience – not to mention SEO (i.e. getting your jobs found via Google search).
For example, JazzHR is a great choice as an affordable ATS that offers the ability to follow-up with candidates via email or texting (Note: Dialog is a partner of JazzHR and will receive compensation should you make a purchase in the link).
5) Build in as many communication touch points as possible
This keeps candidates in the loop about their application and your workplace.
I was talking with one employer a while back and they shared how they went so far as to include communication touchpoints even after a candidate accepted an offer, which resulted in a measurable drop in ghosting. People are stressed when they’re between jobs. Staying in touch with them about the hiring process using automated communications is a great way to help feel appreciated, even if they don’t end up getting the job. Plus, candidates are getting multiple offers at the same time as yours.
If you can include automated candidate communications in your ATS where you can show videos and testimonials about your workplace, you’ll set yourself apart. When you communicate your employee stories with candidates, it improves your recruiting results.
Try applying to your own jobs to learn where the gaps are. Then get to work on fixing your company’s recruiting process.