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Keep your HR candidates engaged by streamlining their applications

By Barney Ely, Director of Hays Human Resources

An organisation’s success depends on strong teams of talented professionals, and these in turn rely on effective HR professionals to manage and expand the workforce. Having a clear and well thought out application process should be vital for the attraction of HR professionals who, by definition, have a better understanding of how a good candidate journey should work.

Recently we discussed the factors in your job adverts that could be putting candidates off, but the process is far from over once you have caught a candidate’s eye. The application process immediately following the advert can often make or break your chance at finding the most talented HR professionals.

According to our new What Workers Want research, a significant majority, 80%, of HR candidates would consider abandoning an online job application if it takes over 15 minutes to complete. This may be surprising to those employers who assume applicants are prepared to dedicate significant amounts of time to an application. We discovered that two fifths of employers have an application process lasting over 15 minutes, thereby reducing their pool of potential applicants to just one in three.

The primary complaint about the application process for the majority of applicants is the length of the process, but also the number of requirements. Applicants expect websites and career pages to offer intuitive functionality for greater ease and a more user-friendly experience. These could include CV saving and editing tools, the ability to save job searches for future dates, and creating job alerts to notify them of future opportunities.

What can you do to improve your applicants’ journey?

1. Have a go yourself

Put yourself in the position of your ideal HR professional and go through the application journey from start to finish. See how long it takes you, or somebody less familiar with your systems, to successfully submit an application. Use your common sense and measure the time against applicant’s expectations. If you’re pushing the 15 minute cut-off point you could be missing out on a lot of key talent.

2. Only ask for what you need

When you’re testing the application process, look at what you’re being asked. Does everything seem necessary to you? Are there any duplicated or superfluous questions? You have a small window of opportunity to retain the enthusiasm of the applicant, and nothing kills confidence in a potential employer more than a poorly thought out or repetitive application process. You don’t need all the information up front, and many open ended questions can be left for the interview rounds. Streamline your process and you’ll keep better applicants engaged for longer.

3. Know the value of a strong application process

Budgets may be tight, but the benefits of hiring the right employee to add value to your business is often worth the greater investment into your career portal. At a minimum, try to make sure you are meeting the basic expectations of your ideal candidate. Consider investing in a digital recruitment campaign to enhance your candidate attraction strategy, and most importantly, ensure your website or portal is mobile optimised.

Your application process is the first true interaction your candidates have with you, it has the potential to colour all further interactions – or stop them from happening entirely. Don’t undermine your ability to compete for the best talent, ensure you take the correct steps to shortening your processes and providing a more engaging and intuitive application.

You can hear more about improving your hiring processes in our latest podcast.

About this author

Barney joined Hays in 1993 as a business graduate and is now Director for Hays Human Resources. Barney also has operational responsibility for Hays offices across the South of England, placing professionals in over 20 industry sectors covering everything from accountancy and finance to construction, IT education and healthcare.

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