Despite employers complaining about a lack of applicants, a big reason why appears to be their frustrating job application processes.
InFlight Corporation, maker of the employee experience platform, recently announced a new study of the job application process and related opportunities for improvement. The findings reveal significant gaps between the expense of attracting a candidate and diminishing engagement due to friction in the online application process.
They "mystery shopped" the career sites of Fortune 500 companies, using the search term “software developer,” a hard-to-fill role that is consistent across all organizations. The process started on Google, where nearly 70 percent of all job searches commence and followed the number of clicks it took from the first click of “Apply Now” through the application submitted confirmation page.
InFlight’s Founder and CEO, James La Brash, said, “When it comes to the candidate experience, the promise of a quick and easy apply process starts with the ‘Apply Now’ button. The reality is quite different: Our research shows that two-thirds of candidates are made to click ‘Apply Now’ three or more times, and an average of 51 clicks are required to get through an application, which is time consuming and undermines the desired outcome.”
Given the recruitment marketing expenditure involved in attracting qualified talent – especially in a highly competitive labor market – having unnecessary roadblocks in place is counterintuitive and creates friction in the apply flow. The job application process is often a rapid barrage of questions, fields and clicks that candidates need to navigate to advance through the process. Additionally, as soon as a candidate starts the apply process, InFlight learned that 48 percent of the Fortune 500 are sharing brand positioning with their applicant tracking system’s logo, creating confusion on the part of the candidate as to where their information is going.
In addition to the discovery that “Apply Now” experience is far from prompt, the research uncovered a disconnect between the people who are designing the experience and the people who buy and configure the technology.
Expecting to see a stronger correlation between employer branding and application experience quality, it was apparent that the candidate experience suffered in the process. Even when organizations were savvy about including recruitment marketing visual brand elements, the corresponding technology experience wasn’t configured to support positive impact and high application completion rates.
La Brash concluded, “Designing and executing a quantitative study of your company’s apply flow is a complicated undertaking. Many organizations have pieced together in-house and external systems to achieve their intended goals without considering the overall quality of the candidate experience. With so much competition for workers, organizations cannot afford to have systems that provide a candidate experience that undermines their talent attraction goals.”
It is remarkable that in 2021 we are still talking about frustrating the candidates with unnecessary clicks and barriers when it comes to the apply process. Leaders need to demand better from their HR tech staff when it comes to implementing any kind of software that touches the candidate experience. They need to hire more usability experts that bring a candidate focused mindset to the implementation.
Any employer that doesn't take the apply process seriously is putting themselves at risk of not filling roles quickly enough. "Easy Apply" should become the norm in our industry, not the exception.