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How to Build the Perfect Application Process

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As the culture of work has changed, the job application process has changed as well.  Gone are the days of walking around to companies, picking up a paper application, and crossing fingers that you’d just get a role. Nowadays, job seekers invest in finding companies where they feel valued, welcomed, and powerful. Some job seekers even have running lists of “dream companies” with whom they always look for open positions. 

Companies are constantly looking for new ways to make the application process more straightforward, shorter, and more accessible. But that doesn’t mean the process is perfect quite yet. 

Let’s look at the role of applications, the problems we see today, and how you can build an optimized process that is short, efficient, and still has all of the data you need.

The Role of Applications

Applications allow recruiters to cast a wide net for talent while enabling job seekers to participate in the hiring process actively. They can ease the work of a recruiter by providing a list of candidates who have already proven their interest in your company or team.

The goal of using job applications should be to collect consistent data to fill the open position and positions in the future. The role and weight of applications vary by organization. Some companies use applications only for specific roles (like entry-level positions), whereas others use them as part of their hiring process for any job. Sometimes, an application is used in conjunction with other assessments like resumes, skills tests, etc.

While the goals and value of job applications are clear, they’re not always effective.

The Problem with the Application Process

On the Hiring Side

The biggest problems with the application process on the hiring side are not asking the right questions and not asking questions in the right format.

The recruiting world has a data problem. Teams are wading through outdated and disorderly data that is impossible to search despite the need for concision, accuracy, and structure. Building a quality application relies on asking the right questions in a suitable format to make those answers usable.

In our recent webinar, Data Health and Talent Acquisition, Shon Burton, HiringSolved’s founder, shared the need for great qualifying questions in a structured format.

On the Seeking Side

Job seekers deal with application issues as well. Many applications can take an incredible amount of time to get right or require repetitive information (i.e., asking for a resume PDF, but also asking applicants to type out the information on their resume in text boxes), so the process can feel more redundant, leading to abandoned applications.

Beyond that, competing and sometimes inaccurate advice pushes job seekers away from best practices. LinkedIn is filled with suggestions of how to “beat the ATS” and how insistent follow-up is the best way to get a job. Applicants are told to spend hours perfecting their application only to receive no response because recruiters are overwhelmed with tasks.

Job seekers face confidence hits, imposter syndrome, and the stress of being jobless if they’re actively searching. How can we fix these application process roadblocks?

How to Build the Perfect Application Process

Know Exactly What to Ask

Spend time with the hiring team or manager to clarify what they need to know about applicants. This is where being a Talent Advisor comes in. Recruiters can take the lead on asking the right questions of a hiring manager before releasing the job posting. Remember to ask for the basics like name, contact information, and even pronouns.

If you’re asking for a resume (which is often a great thing to ask for), remember to save time for the job seekers by not requiring them to recopy the information into text boxes after uploading a resume. Use a tool that can effectively parse and understand the information you need.

While it can be frustrating to spend so much preparation time to get a posting live, the more details you get earlier in the process, the easier the following steps will be.

Ask It Well

Like Shon mentioned in our recent webinar, unstructured formatting leads to poor qualifying questions. When you’ve selected the right questions, ask them in the right way.

If you’re asking for the state someone lives in, use a drop-down menu. When you want to know someone’s education level, make a checkbox list. Mitigate the risk of inaccurate or bad data coming into your database by focusing on structured data boxes.

The right data will allow you to bring automation and AI into your work process, so you need to focus on normalizing and structuring your data to get the best ROI from your technology.

Keep It Accessible and as Short as Possible

Keep applications accessible through the use of alt text or captions if you’re using images or videos. Make sure that your application is as short and straightforward as possible to avoid applicants abandoning it.

Remember to make your application mobile-friendly. Thanks to the ” digital divide, ” many lower-income Americans rely on their mobile phones to access the internet, thanks to the “digital divide.”  Even if someone doesn’t complete the application on mobile, job seekers may be searching for jobs on their phone and will likely judge your brand/company depending on how mobile-friendly your system is.

Be Clear About Expectations and Process

While candidate experience is a priority for many recruiting teams, job seekers continue to have similar complaints. In an article about a recently viral LinkedIn post, Forbes contributor Jack Kelly wrote,

“The comments have central themes. They include outrage over being pressured to undergo three to 10 interviews over six months or more. Some are asked to take tests, do projects or sit for invasive psychometric exams. There’s a lack of feedback and long periods of an absence of communication. No appreciation is extended to applicants for their time. Rude and dismissive treatment is commonplace. After all of the meetings, they complain of getting ghosted.”

The recruiting team should be clear about the process for applicants. But the hiring team also needs to be clear with the recruiting team. What time is the hiring manager given to give feedback? What is the process if you don’t receive the required input in that time?

Follow up with applicants with automated and personalized emails about the process and when they can expect to hear back.

As time goes on, the application process will need optimization to keep up with the needs of both recruiters and applicants, but we are long past time bringing the application process up to snuff for today.

From clarifying requirements to structuring data to follow-up, what are you going to do today to transform your application process for the better?