We all know this to be true: It’s best to make the job application process both easy and accessible to ensure you achieve the highest quantity and quality of applicants. Your application is the first touchpoint for a candidate—their first impression of your company and what it would be like to work there. So, it’s important to make this experience a memorable one. This is how you can get the strongest candidates to come through your hiring process, helping to build highly productive and effective teams in your organization.
It’s crucial for organizations to realize that it is a buyer’s marketplace when attracting the best candidates, and top talent is not going to be attracted to companies that don’t have a streamlined application process. Remember: It all starts with the application. Don’t make people’s first impression of you a negative one!
In my role at Greenhouse, I’ve surfed thousands of company websites and their careers pages and can give insight into what works—and what creates a barrier to entry for applicants.
That said, here’s the ideal situation for your careers page and application process:
- Your future candidate comes to your careers page either from your company’s home page, from an ad, or through a Google search.
- They go directly to the appropriate job.
- They can finish the application on one page without having to create a login or leave the browser—and it’s as equally easy to do so whether they’re on a desktop or mobile device.
If you already have it set up this way—great! You’re ahead of the game. But for many organizations, this may not be the case. This blog post is for you.
Here are 5 tips to guide you in setting up a more applicant-friendly careers page to attract and bring in as many top quality candidates as possible:
1. Make your careers page easy to find
You should not be playing a game of hide and seek with top talent.
That said, if prospective candidates are taking the time and energy to come to your website, it should be extremely simple for them to locate your careers page. Having a visible “Careers” or “Jobs” link in the header or footer of your home page shows them that you’re serious about hiring. As simple as this may seem, it’s surprising how many companies don’t have an easily visible link on their home page (or one at all!).
Further, I recommend that you keep the URL for your careers page simple, such as domain.com/careers or domain.com/jobs (both greenhouse.io/careers and greenhouse.io/jobs link to our careers page). This not only helps applicants to easily remember the URL for the future, but it will also help you with SEO—if an applicant conducts a Google search for “[your company name] jobs,” your careers page will likely show up at the top of the results.
2. Enable applicants to apply by phone
A lack of mobile-friendly career pages is a key concern of many of the applicants I talk to. This concern is well-founded—according to Glassdoor, 9 out 10 job seekers will use a mobile device as part of their job search. (Yes, 90%!). So it makes sense to make it easy for them to do so. (The last thing you want is to lose top talent to your competitors who are optimizing for mobile!).
A key component of the mobile-optimized career page is a mobile-optimized job application. For an applicant, having the ability to attach a resume from Dropbox or Google Drive or use the “Apply with LinkedIn” feature will make the application much easier to complete fully on mobile. Also, resume parsing should fill most fields, minimizing the amount of typing needed.
Finally, it’s also very important for mobile that the entire application can be completed in one page. Having to create a signup (going to an email app) or open a PDF (going to PDF viewer) increases the likelihood that the applicant will get frustrated and abandon the application altogether.
3. Stop using PDFs to relay the job description
Shockingly, many companies provide a job’s description and application instructions in a PDF, which is linked on their careers page, instead of having the job description written out on the careers page itself. To make matters worse, many companies provide an email address on the PDF to direct where the applicant should send their resume.
Making your candidates go through the extra step of clicking, downloading, and opening a PDF and then zooming in and out to fully read the job description—and then opening their email, cutting and pasting an email address, typing up the body of the email, attaching their resume, and then clicking send—will surely leave them with a sour taste in their mouths and may lead them to dismiss the job and your company altogether. There is an even higher possibility of this happening on a mobile device. We all know how frustrating it can be when a PDF won’t open immediately (or at all!). The instinct is to walk away—and that’s exactly what prospective candidates will do.
4. Create an application that’s short and sweet
As applicants ourselves, we’ve all seen this before: You finish a job application and eagerly look for the “submit” button, but all you find is the dreaded “next” button, leading you to page 2 of a 13-page application. Infuriatingly, this job application also asks you to fill in fields from the resume you just uploaded! For a recruiter, there may be a back-end reason for asking applicants to do this [say for making them more searchable in your applicant tracking system (ATS)], but you must consider that there’s big risk in asking them to do this tedious task: You could lose them altogether.
The issue may be that your current ATS doesn’t parse resumes well, forcing you to add additional fields for information that the candidate has already provided. If this is the case, I’d recommend finding a new ATS that does, like Greenhouse. If the ATS can help you streamline your application—which oftentimes serves as a prospective candidate’s first impression of you—it’s more than worth it.
Click here to download our ebook, A Buyer's Guide to Applicant Tracking Software.
All in all, you should strive to limit your application to one page. Not even two. (Seriously). Take Snapchat, for example. Its jobs page is comprehensive in that it gives the information that its recruiting team truly needs (beyond that given in the resume) and it also includes all EEOC compliance questions—yet it manages to stay contained to a single page.
5. Don’t require a login
Requiring applicants to create a login is generally a bad idea. A lot of prospective applicants will stop the process at that point and not bother to apply. And those who actually proceed to set up a login might run into issues with email deliverability, where the login confirmation is delayed—or worse—hides in their spam folder or never even reaches them at all.
Some organizations require a login to reduce the amount of duplicate applicant submissions they receive, which is understandable. But in all honesty, this is really just a band-aid for poor functionality in your current software. A better solution is to get an ATS that automatically identifies duplicates and makes merging them together a simple process.
Overall, your goal should be to decrease the number of obstacles that an applicant has to go through to apply to your job. Removing a login requirement is a quick and surefire method to welcoming a higher number of candidates into your system.
Tying it all together
I’ve outlined some easy but effective improvements that you can make to your careers page and application process, removing barriers to entry for applicants. Doing so will lead to a better candidate experience and as a result, a higher number of qualified candidates.
I encourage you to review your own application process to see how you stack up. Put yourself in your candidates’ shoes and try from both desktop and mobile to see where any hidden problems may be. If you notice any issues, it may be time to reevaluate your ATS (or start using one to begin with!).
For some free advice, check out our ebook, A Buyer’s Guide to Applicant Tracking Software, by clicking the button below!