If you have not been out job searching lately, chances are you may not be aware of some of the things that are driving candidates crazy. I happen to have four adult millennial children, and get the great pleasure of observing them in their early career exploration. And let me tell you, some of their experiences can be quite alarming.
In general, candidates hate it when you waste their time.
Take a look at this data from The Talent Board regarding reasons candidates withdraw from consideration:
From the survey of more than 200K candidates, people who rated their overall experience the lowest (1 star) indicated that the number one reason they chose to withdraw from the process was for having their time disrespected. Wasting people's time should be a pretty easy thing to avoid, but due to system limitations and fragmentation, there are some generally accepted practices in the job application process that really annoy job seekers.
Here are my top 3:
1. The Double Hop - Many companies offer candidates the opportunity to join a talent network or talent community. A simple contact form, maybe with some areas of interest, or even a resume upload, and you will be able to get notifications when jobs arise that might be a match for you. Then someone came up with a brilliant idea to prompt candidates wth the talent network form at the beginning of the apply process.
It goes something like this:
Step 1: Land on Job Description page
Step 2: Click Apply
Step 3: Create a user account
Step 4: Complete a form you think is the application.
At the bottom of the form you read something like this:
Please note: Some of this data will be requested again as part of the job application. Click the "Next" button below to get started.
Step 5: Click Next
Step 6: Land on another job description page
Step 7: Click apply again
Step 8: Create another user account, followed by 5 pages of questions...
This has been touted as a best practice to account for the fact that 50-60% of candidates do not complete the application. This method allows you to at least capture their contact information so you can email them to come back. The only problem is, the double hop is likely increasing the number of applications that are being abandoned before completion.
2. Redundant Data Entry - Back in the olden days, expressing interest in a job was easy. All you had to do was fax (yes, I said fax) a resume. Email made it even easier. Then the online career portal was born, and it all went to hell. In the name of productivity and efficiency down stream, employers decided to put every field of data they might ever need from a candidate for the entirety of the hiring process all up front on the first expression of interest.
The truly annoying part of this is that a resume upload is still required. So after uploading a resume (that a candidate probably spent many hours editing to make sure it was perfect), they must enter education and work history data into individual fields. At a minimum, they are asked to correct the data extraction errors that were introduced upon uploading their resume into the system - only to be presented with screening questions that ask for the highest level of education, and years of experience in any particular area. Guess what? All of this information can be found on the resume.
It's no wonder there is a 50-60% drop off rate!
3. Forced Account Creation - This one is so commonplace that I doubt many employers are even aware of how annoying it is. Most companies utilize an applicant tracking system that requires a candidate to establish an account with a username and password. It's forced upon you with no way to apply unless you comply. As a candidate, this might be useful if I am planning to be a chronic applier to lots of jobs at only one company. But the reality is, candidates apply to jobs at multiple companies and therefore must create an account for each. The vast majority of candidates only apply to one job at a given company. Why on earth should they all be forced to create a user account?
We should take a lesson from e-commerce. When you buy a product online and go to check out, you are given the option to create an account, or you can simply pay and be done. This is much better for the consumer. Those who want the convenience next time they come back can take advantage, and those who don't can still make the purchase.
If you are trying to decrease the amount of job application abandonments, addressing these three things would be a great start.