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With the majority of job applications nowadays being sent online, it’s important to ensure your online application process is as efficient as possible. However, the What Workers Want 2018 report from Hays shows that a huge number of companies continue to fail to prioritise their online application process. If your company has been struggling to recruit new employees and you’re unsure why, the report – which surveyed 14,600 employers and employees – might have a few answers.

According to the findings, half of online applicants gave a neutral to very poor rating of their user experience, with a particular cause for concern being lengthy application processes. The report found that 71% of jobseekers would cancel an online job application if it took longer than 15 minutes to complete, while 40% of employers acknowledged that applications routinely took much longer than 15 minutes.

The Hays report also found that candidates were more drawn to jobs where the process is simplified and easy to revisit, and expected to be able to attach a CV to their application, while the option of contacting a real person during the process was a key function for 69% of those who responded.

With all this in mind, what can your company do to ensure you don’t miss out on quality candidates before you get a chance to interview them? We’ve analysed the Hays report’s findings and come up with nine handy tips for improving your job application process to help your company appear more attractive to prospective employees.

Tips for Improving the Job Application Process

Improve the functionality of your applications

According to the Hays report, 90% of applicants expect to be able to edit and submit their CV as part of the process. The majority of applicants also expect to be able to save job searches, receive job alerts and easily review their applications – and making the process mobile-friendly is also a must. Adding these functions should encourage more potential candidates to apply.

Provide a human contact

With over 69% of applicants agreeing that a human contact who can send updates on applications and answer questions is an important plus of a company’s process, it is clear that good communication is essential. Ensuring that someone is on hand to offer a personal touch is key to making sure people are drawn to your applications.

Shorten your application process…

The Hays’ report cites excessively long processes as a common reason for cancelling an online application, with 71% of applicants saying they would close an application if it took longer than 15 minutes. With that in mind, you should regularly review your applications to remove any extraneous questions for a more streamlined, efficient process.

…but two rounds of interviews is ideal

While most respondents said they prefer a short application process, the majority of both employers and employees believe that two rounds of interviews is ideal for both parties getting a sense of how the other works, and whether the relationship is likely to be workable.

Let applicants know whether or not they have been successful as quickly as possible

58% of applicants said they would expect to find out whether their application has been successful within three days, whereas 33% of employers acknowledged that this process can take a week or more. An efficient process which lets successful applicants know where they stand quickly can ensure they’re not lured away by offers from elsewhere.

Ensure the application process accurately represents the role being offered

It’s no use getting the perfect candidate in if they quickly find the job wasn’t what they expected – 49% of employees polled in the Hays report stated that they had left a job within the first year because the job they had was not as described in the application process.

Make a good impression   ​

Almost half of candidates surveyed in the Hays report said they had been put off by a company making a poor first impression – 84% of people have had a negative experience at a job interview, with inefficient communication and ill-prepared interviewers noted as common issues.

Pay attention to applicant feedback

The Hays report emphasises a disparity between how employers and potential employees view online application processes: two-thirds of employers think they offer a good to excellent process, whereas 50% of applicants rated their experience neutral to very poor. Encourage feedback from applicants to ensure your process is as user-friendly as possible.

Make the most of technology

Social media is an ideal opportunity to advertise roles widely via the use of hashtags, and can also be used to screen candidates for their suitability for a role – LinkedIn is useful for cross-checking a candidate’s CV, for example. However, the Hays report showed that technology can be implemented negatively; 67% of candidates would prefer not to use a VR interview simulation, with many believing it would not give an accurate view of their abilities.

Now that you have a better idea of what is required to ensure your application process is as comprehensive, efficient and user-friendly as possible, you should be better placed to attract the best-quality candidates for roles within your company. If you’d like any further advice on improving your application process – or if you have any tips of your own that you’d like to pass on – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.