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The job application process: A best practice guide for recruiters

We’ve all been job seekers at some point in our career. We’ve had our fair share of applying for roles only to be caught up in a spiralling tumble of some hideously set up application process. You know the ones. Endless text fields, drop-down options, compulsory document uploads, and sure enough what should be a five-minute application ends up taking 45 minutes. When did applying for a role become so hard? 

That is exactly what your candidates could be thinking if you don’t have the right process in place. According to Appcast, applications that take more than 15 minutes to complete, experience a 365% reduction in completion rates. Are your candidates dropping off before they even get to the good part? 

Not only is time of the essence, but the information given should be informative and answer questions such as, “How long do applications take?” “When will the candidate expect a response back?” “What’s the selection process like?” Communication is key.

Consider this. A recent candidate experience guide by CareerBuilder found that most candidates, 83% to be exact, said it would greatly improve their overall candidate experience if employers could set expectations by providing a clear timeline of the hiring process.  

The following 5 companies do just that, among other things. They focus on the job seeker and make it a point to tell a story. I even put myself through the job application process to see whether I would drop off or stay.

TripAdvisor

According to their home page, TripAdvisor helps nearly half a billion travellers each month “make every trip their best trip.” With Tripadvisor, the one thing I noticed about their careers page was their simple and effective layout which highlighted these key points.

  • Recommended jobs based on the candidates browsing history

  • All Tripadvisor teams with the number of available positions 
  • Employee videos
  • Awards won

  • Company values
  • A chatbot which prompts candidates if they would like to ask a question or need help exploring roles (this is a big plus – chatbots are soon to become the future for recruitment)
  • Their Glassdoor review

Candidates can also submit their resume or answer questions for the platform to find the right role for them. Applying for a role took me 1 minute, 35 seconds, and applying for their talent community took me just 29 seconds. An interesting part of the application process was their attention to detail with diversity and inclusivity. 

See the below video to understand what I mean.

This could be incredibly eye-opening for job applicants as perhaps they haven’t come across other organisations that include a variety of options. We’ve come a long way from having two options for gender or sexual orientation to now being inclusive and diverse, and Tripadvisor made me feel accepted, as I’m sure it could for applicants. 

Despite this, Tripadvisor does not include a FAQs page that gives detail on how long the process would take from applying to receiving a confirmation to knowing the final verdict. 

When candidates do select a role to view, a video of their HQ office can be seen on the side banner; this gives a little teaser to a fantastic office which could persuade the candidate to click the ‘apply’ button.  

Booking.com

This 23-year-old travel company; ranked by web analytics company SimilarWeb as number 1 for travel and tourism: accommodation and hotels in the world; is set up quite similar to the TripAdvisor career page. It highlights suggested roles based on a candidate’s browsing history, teams with their number of available roles, job alerts and employee testimonials. 

In comparison, my job application process took only 1 minute, 2 seconds, though applying for a job alert, was the same as Tripadvisor at roughly 30 seconds. 

But, Booking.com has a section giving information on how they hire. First, they offer five tips for candidates including:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Come prepared
  3. Know the job
  4. Know yourself
  5. Ask good questions

They also include further insights with resumes, cover letters, or motivation letters as they like to call it, and the interview. Booking.com also has FAQs from ‘how do I apply for a job?’ To ‘how long will my interview take?’

However, it doesn’t provide information on the recruitment process. 

They also have incorporated two videos showcasing employees on why they love working at Booking.com with their experiences. Have a listen.

IBM

Despite the renowned IT company having an average 5-10 minute job application time, it does have features that stood out to make it on the list. 

For one, IBM has its own cognitive-infused tool, called “Watson Candidate Assist,” which allows IBM to personalise the candidate’s experience on their career website. I decided to give Watson a go and felt that it had an easy and smooth UX, but unfortunately, Watson was unable to answer several of my questions, with no option to then email a person who could perhaps answer. These questions included:

  • How long does the application process take?
  • How long until I find out if I get the job?
  • How long after I apply will I hear back from IBM?

This could frustrate a candidate, but according to Amber Grewal, IBM’s previous Corporate Vice President and Head of Global Talent Acquisition, IBM have seen “86% of individuals engage with Watson and 35% more people apply for a job based on their interaction with Watson.”

Sounds promising. Could your careers page use a tool like Watson?

Their careers page also highlights employee testimonials, why IBM, what IBMers do via videos and global new stories. They also post about their everyday life with their Instagram page ‘lifeatibm,’ showcasing their employer branding, culture and exciting environment. 

Similar to Booking.com, applying to their talent network took 30 seconds to complete, where it asks for basic contact details, experience level, areas of interests, primary skillset, primary country and resume.

Canva

Founded in 2012, the Australian based design toolmaker is currently valued at $3.2 billion. According to a recently published Forbes article featuring Canva’s CEO Melanie Perkins, Canva users have made 2 billion designs to date; one billion in the past year alone.

Naturally, their careers page is also reflective of their growth and successful branding. Out of all the application processes I completed, Canva beat them all with 35 seconds to apply for a role! Yes, McDonald’s does have the 10-second Snapchat application option, but Canva requires the candidate’s resume, contact information and optional add-ons such as their LinkedIn profile and cover letter.  

Apart from the timely application process, Canva answers your questions where soon enough you find yourself immersed within their website, from how they hire, the teams and locations. 

Canva doesn’t just show you a picture of each team, they dedicate a separate page for each team, where team leaders are interviewed allowing candidates to gain an understanding of whether this is the role (and team) for them.

See below as an example. 

Johnson & Johnson

A staple in most households, the 130-year-old healthcare company knows how to market their brand through their careers page. 

The first thing a candidate will see are big bold letters that read “We’re Breaking the Trajectory of Human Health, YOU Can Too.” A video is attached which dives into what J&J does and how you (the candidate) can make a difference. They use phrases such as: 

  • We need you, and the world definitely needs you 
  • New ways to support human dignity, practice human rights and new ways to expand what’s possible in human health
  • Working at J&J can change everything, including – you 
  • Discover the impact you can make 

Their careers page highlights what they do, employee benefits (with actual stories from employees), student opportunities and how they hire. 

They detail each step in the application process and what a candidate should expect. J&J also has a section for job seekers coming back to work, including veterans, parents, carers, community service workers and more. Stories are also incorporated in their careers page with testimonials on what people are saying about J&J (comments are taken from Twitter). 

When I went through the application process it took me around 1 minute, 40 seconds, but if selecting a particular role it prompts the applicant to answer multiple-choice STAR based interview questions. With that option, it took me roughly 3 minutes, 55 seconds to complete. 

The vast majority

For the vast majority of careers pages I came across, two things stood out:

  • Job seekers were expected to create an account in order to apply
  • Completing an application was too long and complicated

For example, I liked Virgin Media’s career site as it had detailed information on roles, locations, company benefits, training and development, FAQs, as well as their recruitment process. Unfortunately, it required me to create an account like Johnson & Johnson, but this account set up wouldn’t accept certain passwords. Keyboard smashing did occur. (No keyboard was harmed in the making of this blog, except on that occasion.)

Compared to the above application times, Virgin Media’s application process took 3 minutes, 28 seconds. The worst application I endured took me over 35 minutes. Call it sheer stubbornness on my part. 

So, what’s next? How can you implement changes to your application process for candidates, where you not only attract them but successfully get them to click ‘apply now’?

Application process tips to remember

  • Ensure a quick and timely application process. Short and simple is always best.
  • Add FAQs and information on how your company hires. Include helpful tips to prepare your candidates. Why wouldn’t you want them to nail their interview?
  • Incorporate mobile. Glassdoor reports that 45% of job seekers say that they use their mobile device specifically to search for jobs at least once a day. More job searches and applications are done via mobile, so keep up with your candidates and realise this potential.
  • Keep your careers page clean and easy to navigate. You don’t want to add too much fluff with pop-ups and confusing setups. Expecting job seekers to set up an account is asking too much. 
  • Consider chatbots to streamline the process and reduce admin work. This not only helps you but improves the candidate experience.
  • Make your process user-friendly so you don’t miss out on top candidates.
  • Use fewer screening questions. According to Indeed, they found that applications with 20 screening questions lose 40% of job applicants. 

There you have it. What best practice will you be using in your application process? Know other companies that do this even better than the ones mentioned? Let us know via our social. 

 

Bianca Compagnoni

Bianca Compagnoni

Communications graduate Bianca Compagnoni is the newly appointed Content Writer at JobAdder, writing all things recruitment. She greets her teammates every day with a snort and has just started her journey on becoming a writer and recruitment software connoisseur. When she's not writing content for JobAdder, Bianca is listening to South American music, eating food whenever she can, dreaming of her next travel adventure and playing with her poodle.