A candy commercial from the 1960s famously asked: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Recruiters and HR professionals need to answer a similar existential question: How many clicks does it take to finally complete your job application?
If youre seeing a lot of drop off (or not getting enough qualified applicants), maybe its time to stop blaming the talent pool and start looking at the potential faults in your own job application process.
Take Your Application for a Test Drive
The best place to start is to do an internal application audit. Dont just quickly glance through the questions. Block out some time in your busy schedule and fully apply for one of your companys open positions (with 100% real answers!). Time the process from start to finish and see just how long it takes to submit a standard application.
While you’re at it, ask another HR staffer to run a test, and compare notes. See where you can cut questions, which sections are the least user friendly, and where you can simplify from start to finish.
Never Ask the Same Question Twice
You might be asking for the same information over and over again, and not even realize it. Do candidates need to upload a resume AND input a full list of past employment experiences AND fill out an entire education history? If so, applicants are likely fed up by filling out the same information in multiple places. Not to mention, it reflects poorly your company, because it shows that you dont see the redundancies in your own application process!
While every HR pro loves having lots of applicant data at his or her fingertips, consider the opportunity cost. Remove as many barriers to entry as possible and strive to make make the application process short and sweet.
Pay Attention to Applicant Attention Span
Take a long, hard look at how many questions you include, and how those questions are presented. Are job seekers endlessly clicking Next to answer pages and pages of yes or no questions? Or does your application include a progress bar to let job seekers know just how much more is expected of them?
Try to find ways to keep job seekers engaged, and be mindful of just how much time you are asking each candidate to spend on your application process.
Be Position Specific
While youre cutting out questions, make sure to only ask for the most essential information up front. Remove “warm and fluffy” questions, like “Are you able to communicate effectively and problem solve with others?” (Honestly — even if you knew in your heart of hearts that you were a difficult person to work with, would you really indicate that on a job application?)
Any good HR pro also knows that applications should vary on a position by position basis. Depending on what position you are hiring for, you can make the application more simplistic (or sometimes unnecessarily complex). If you are hiring for a position that is notoriously difficult to fill, only collect the basics, and follow-up for the rest later.
Keep Compliance in Mind
Finally, we cant forget compliance! From EEO to OFCCP, there are multiple, ever-changing factors that HR professionals need to be aware of when designing the perfect job application. What was once a perfectly legal question to ask on a job application (or in an interview!) can now land you in hot water. Plus, new ordinances and initiatives can change the legal landscape and add yet another layer of complexity to your process. For example, Ban the Box can help some companies eliminate entire conviction sections, encouraging you to consider a new pool of potential applicants.
(But heres an important disclaimer — dont rely on our word for legal advice!) Once your HR team has created an application, make it a priority to have an actual attorney review your work. This way, there are multiple parties involved to ensure a top notch application that is fully compliant, especially if your business operates in multiple states nationwide.
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