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How to Improve the Candidate Experience While Reducing Application Drop-Off

Have you ever lost interest in a company after reaching a long application form? If so, you’re not alone in being offered a poor candidate experience. Research shows that the candidate drop-off rate for people who click “Apply” but never complete an application is a whopping 92%

In today’s talent shortage,  77% of employers globally report difficulty finding the skilled talent they need in 2023, versus 35% a decade earlier. How can companies find skilled talent if their application process turns candidates off at the gate? 

A poor application process reduces the value of all the money your company has spent on job advertising, recruitment marketing, and employer branding. It also affects your brand image. 

I have encountered job applications with drop-down menus that don’t include my undergraduate and graduate majors. The inability to accurately represent my qualifications forces me to lie and sends a message that the company does not value my education. Needless to say, I’ve never gotten a job at one of those companies. Instead, I filled out a SmartRecruiters application in about three minutes and received a kind email the next day saying that the recruiter was reviewing my application. Three weeks later, I had an offer letter in hand.

Here at SmartRecruiters, we’re so obsessed with candidate experience that we developed a Candidate Experience Scorecard to evaluate companies’ application processes. The average score of the 50 scorecards our team has completed in the last three months is 5.3 out of 10. Clearly, there’s room for improvement. Here’s exactly what companies need to do to improve their scores and reduce applicant drop-offs.

1. Lose the Login Requirement

Do applicants really need to create a login with a username and password? This single step ensures steep application drop-off rates. Candidates apply to many jobs, not just yours. They may never come back to your website again. Making it harder than necessary by creating a username and password nets you only the most diligent candidates. Whether you’re hiring at scale or selectively recruiting for key positions, your company benefits when you make it as easy as possible.

2. Ensure Mobile Optimization

More than half of internet traffic comes through smartphones and tablets. About a third of Americans don’t own a laptop. A sub-par mobile experience nets lost applicants. Mobile optimization is essential not only for high-volume roles but also for attracting professional candidates. Even if a person sits in front of a computer all day, they’re likely to use a smartphone while job searching in their off hours.

3. Shorten Time To Complete the Application

We’ve reviewed application processes that take over 30 minutes to complete. If your company is seeking innovators, it’s almost guaranteed that will you turn them away with ridiculously long applications in outdated systems. Only the most compliant candidates will sit there in their free time and fight with your forms. You’re better off taking up their time with an informative and enjoyable interview process.

4. Make Resume Rewrite Invisible

Speaking of fighting with forms, sub-par resume parsing is often what takes up most of applicants’ time. There’s nothing worse than uploading a resume and looking at garbled, incorrect information, especially if you’re an experienced employee with many past roles that all need facts corrected. An evolved parsing tool gets the information right the first time. Better yet, the candidate doesn’t see it at all; they just upload their resume and press “Send,” just like I did on my SmartRecruiters application. With Native Resume Viewer inside the SmartRecruiters ATS, the recruiter can toggle between an uploaded resume and the parsed view.

5. Enable Quick Apply

With so many candidates browsing on job sites, “Quick Apply” with LinkedIn or Indeed profiles streamlines the process for them. If candidates have gone to the trouble of putting together detailed profiles on LinkedIn or Indeed–and found your job there–why should they have to recreate the profile just for you?

6. Send an Email Confirmation

The dreaded resume black hole is a reality for every job seeker. Sending an email confirmation with an indication of the next steps is a gesture of respect. It’s also an opportunity to communicate more about your company and create goodwill. If you’re a well-known brand or an employer of choice in your community, an email confirmation and timely rejection protect your brand reputation.

Results to Expect from a Streamlined Application Experience

JYSK, a global retailer with more than 3,200 stores and 30,000 employees, streamlined its application with SmartRecruiters and increased candidate volume to more than 50,000 applicants per month while reducing applicant processing time to 3-4 days from 28 days. Not only that, they ensured a good brand reputation going forward for a company that is often one of the largest employers in a small city. 

If you don’t treat the candidates properly, they will tell everyone, and then it will be harder to hire,” said  “SmartRecruiters allows us to focus on handling our candidates in a good way. Because they are also our customers, they build our perception in the market and impact our reputation. A good recruitment process leads to a good start for a new hire.

– Camilla Ölander, Employer Branding Manager at JYSK. Read the full story here.

KinCare, a home services organization offering aged care in Australia, reduced its time to complete applications to 3-5 minutes from 17 minutes after implementing SmartRecruiters. This resulted in a 60% decrease in the candidate drop-off and helped bring in higher quality candidates. The new application process “gives candidates a completely different interpretation of our business,” said Ben Rynja, former head of Talent Acquisition at KinCare. “If the application process is this easy, they might think it’s a positive reflection of other things in the business,” he said, mentioning other trusted systems that ensure the safety and security of KinCare employees. Read the full story here.

A streamlined application process is just one important aspect of the candidate experience. To learn more about how to design an end-to-end candidate experience, our latest ebook has you covered with six checklists to keep track of improvements for each stage of the candidate journey and much more. Download New Essentials of the Candidate Experience: How to Create Candidate-Centric Experiences from Attraction to Onboarding.

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A boundless candidate experience is one that’s simple, streamlined, and quick. Click the link for a demonstration of how SmartRecruiters can help you provide a stellar candidate experience and improve time-to-fill.

Lee Ann Prescott