Things Job Applicants Hate: How You Can Create A More Efficient Application Process

LaKeisha FlemingBy LaKeisha Fleming
January 3rd, 2024 • 5 Minutes

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You’ve posted your job listing several times, on several job boards. You know it’s a good job with a fair salary. Yet for some reason, you can’t seem to get the top-tier talent that you need to apply. With the overall U.S. unemployment rate of almost 4%, and more than one million people struggling with long-term unemployment, you can’t help but wonder why your position is going unnoticed. It may not be the job itself, the company, or even how much it pays. The problem may stem from the beginning of the process—with the job application.

Job applications can be a source of frustration for job seekers. Research notes that 92% of people don’t finish their online job applications. “Candidates are consumers, and they want quick, easy and informative processes. Without that, they will move on,” notes Christy Spilka, Vice President, Head of Talent Acquisition at Smile Brands Inc., in an interview with SHRM.

Although job seekers want a smooth application process, the numbers say that they aren’t getting it. We take a look at what job seekers hate about the application process, what missteps you might be making with your job applications and how you can streamline the process to make it more beneficial for you and potential hires.

The Process Starts with Your Listing

Getting the word out with a job listing is the first step in the application process. But the listing can be the first point of confusion for a potential employee.

“Candidates often become frustrated when job descriptions leave room for interpretation regarding job duties and responsibilities. It just makes it more challenging for candidates to assess whether they are a good fit for the position,” explains Nathan Brunner, CEO of Salarship.

A listing that is vague or hard to understand makes an applicant feel like they are wasting time trying to figure it out. The person may apply for the job, lacking the skills that you need. Or even worse, you may lose out on a person with the perfect skills set, who doesn’t understand what your needs are.

Instead of running the risk of frustrating applicants, state clearly and simply what you’re looking for. According to CareerBuilder, your job posting should include the job title, a detailed description of the job’s duties, the pay rate for the job, benefits, where the position is located and information about your company. Being upfront in the beginning can save feelings of frustration in the end. 

What Job Seekers Hate About the Application Process

While the thought of a new job can be exciting to an applicant, the process of getting the job often is not. It’s a prickly issue. Businesses need certain information to make the best decision when selecting a new hire. Job seekers need to feel like they are not jumping through unnecessary hoops to provide that information. The key is to get both sides as close to their goals in the most productive way possible. Knowing the things that turn applicants away is a good starting point.

  • Finding the application is a journey. Going from the job listing on a job board, to the company website, to another link that finally leads to the job application, is a chore. And one that many candidates are unlikely to complete.
  • The application process is too long. “Lengthy, ambiguous application processes with the perceived objective of disqualifying candidates is time-consuming, overwhelming and exhausting for candidates. The application goalpost appears to continuously move, which leaves candidates frustrated and in a constant state of disillusionment,” notes Yolanda Owens, Spokesperson + Career Expert at The Muse.
  • The application includes questions that aren’t relevant to the job. Asking about a person’s favorite author isn’t necessary if it doesn’t correlate with the skills for the position.
  • You ask for the same information. Multiple times. An applicant is asked to upload their CV, yet still they must enter their job history. This request feels like a waste of time and energy and can leave a candidate feeling as if their time is devalued. Some applicants will abandon the application process if this happens.
  • The candidate has to give their desired salary. “Candidates think that in this way, recruiters are using them to analyze salaries on the market for this position,” says Victoria Potapenko, Recruiter at Jooble. It feels more like research for the company than a desire to see if you’re a fit for the role. Besides, your job listing should provide salary information.
  • Excessive job assessments irritate job candidates. Again, being mindful of their time and effort is important. Not to mention, you don’t want the candidate to feel like you’re trying not to pay them for work. That is not a good start to the working relationship.
  • An unresponsive company is a major annoyance. “Applicants hate it when they don’t receive a confirmation email after applying. This leaves them wondering if their details were submitted successfully. Applicants [also] hate it when their job application status doesn’t get updated as ‘under review’ once they have submitted their details,” Brunner adds.
  • After all of the hard work of completing the application, it’s disheartening for an applicant to never hear back on what happened with the job. A rejection email gives them some measure of closure.

How to Make Your Application Process Appeal to Job Seekers

Tweaking your application process doesn’t mean you won’t get the information that you need. Your process can be succinct and still be successful. Experts give a few hints as to ways you can attract talent to complete your application process.

  • Shorten the process. Many job posting boards, like LinkedIn, have a button that allows candidates to easily apply for your position. “If a company’s application process feels like a full-time job to complete, it doesn’t portray a good perception of what it will be like to work there,” Owens says.
  • Consider eliminating the request for a cover letter and replacing it with another method that lets someone introduce themselves to you. “Ask candidates to explain why they are interested in the position in less than 300 words. It’s a faster alternative than personalized resumes or cover letters for candidates, and you don’t lose that valuable insight that will help you select candidates,” notes Brunner.
  • Don’t ask unnecessary questions. Leaves questions that don’t directly impact the candidate’s qualifications out of the application process.
  • Get the candidate’s job history from one source. If the application asks for a CV to be uploaded, use that to view their job history. Don’t force your potential employee to rewrite everything they just uploaded.
  • Be responsive. You’re busy, keeping the company going and looking for new talent. People get that. However, a little consideration goes a long way. Set up an auto-response email acknowledging that you received their application. Once a decision has been made, send an email if the candidate was not chosen for the job.

Little changes go a long way. A more efficient application process can attract more candidates to your listing, can give you the information you need and keeps both sides from wasting time. It creates a win-win situation.

“It is essential to be that desired oasis in the desert for the candidate. So that in the flow of vacancies, interviews and refusals, you stand out favorably. Always use the simple method — think like a candidate,” Potapenko concludes.

For more tips on increasing your qualified applicants and many other tools to help your recruitment marketing efforts, visit our marketplace now. Happy hiring!

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