Do the 60% of applies that opt out matter?

(This is the fourth post in a series on the Candidate Experience and Career Site Design by Mary Grace Hennessy. You can view the first, second and third posts here.)

In my last post, I discussed the apply process and ways to reduce the friction in hopes of increasing applicant completion rates.  We reviewed that an average of 60% of those who attempt to apply will abort the process.  So what can companies do about this?


Introducing the Talent Network

Today, with most customer support calls, the first thing a representative asks for is your phone number, allowing them to re-connect if the line drops.  This best practice emerged because otherwise a dropped line means that all of that work to resolve an issue gets lost and the customer experience suffers, resulting in lost revenue.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been giving my phone number at the beginning of support calls for years now…


Correlating this to the world of recruiting, when the line drops between apply-start and apply-complete, the candidate is lost to the organization. 60% of the time they don’t come back.  Perhaps it’s time to do something about this.


By collecting contact information before the official apply-starts, companies can leverage this customer service best practice to enhance their recruiting strategy.  This enables organizations to identify candidates that don’t finish the apply process and re-engage with them for the current position of interest as well as engage them as prospects for future positions.


Here are some of the benefits this best practice can provide:


Better candidate experience– As a candidate, if I got cut off or could not complete the apply flow, at least I know the employer has my contact information through a confirmation that I joined their Talent Network.  This is a huge benefit for the candidates that are not ready to go through the full apply on the spot.

More prospective applicants – SmashFly clients who leverage this practice have access to anywhere from 2 – 4 times the potential applicants who complete the apply process.  This naturally increases the return of every sourcing dollar spent to generate applicants.   If you are paying money to place ads, it means you need to get the word out to fill the position.  People who opt in but do not complete the apply flow for similar jobs in similar geographies are relevant individuals that can now be reached simply and cheaply.

Higher ATS applicant yield– By capturing and knowing those who did not complete the full application process, you can circle back and encourage them to finish the current process and/or invite them to consider future opportunities as they become available.  If you are able to do this, you will generate more applicants to evaluate for the current position*.

Actionable feedback– By capturing and knowing those who did not complete the full application process, you can circle back to solicit feedback to learn more about the nature of the drop outs and any problems they may have experienced that warrant attention.

Improved Engagement Tools– Having the contact information in a system other than the ATS may help improve the ability to send future campaigns to this audience via email and SMS. It also helps with the delineation of these communications as engagement tools to foster prospective talent, as opposed to job applicant specific communications.

By providing a simple form just prior to the full ATS apply process, you have the ability to build a Talent Network of relevant contacts that can bring these aforementioned benefits to your organization.  It’s worth also stating that in my view, this is not a “Talent Community.”  By proving a simple opt in form and being able to engage with these individuals, you will not be creating a destination that prospective applicants go to “collaborate with others” about their specific area of interest.  Communities in their nature are social and this also means interactive. Bill Borman’s recent blog postdoes a good job clarifying the distinction between a “Talent Network” and a “Talent Community.”

How does the Talent Network impact ATS applicant flow?

It’s important to note that we’ve observed the 60% average drop off consistently regardless of whether or not the SmashFly Talent Network Form has been implemented or not.


Here is some data from a client scenario evaluating applicant flow impacts of the Talent Network Form being on or off for a one month period.  You will see applicant drop off in both cases was over 70%**.  The difference with the form on or off was negligible, with a .6% drop in applicant flow.  At the same time, with the Talent Network Form on, the client has access to an additional 1,000 contacts with whom to engage and leverage for talent prospecting purposes.

Make sure this holds true in your environment!

With all this said, each company needs to understand how this approach impacts their recruitment strategy and access to candidates.  Just as with any technology, a bad implementation approach can have disastrous results.  Anything sitting in front of a candidate apply process should be scrutinized to ensure it does not have a negative impact, and implementing a Talent Network Form into the flow is no exception.  I will explore key elements to consider regarding this in my next post.


* The Applicant flow ratio in the example study provided is not higher as this blog asserts can be achieved; however, the scenario above did not leverage an automated loop back to those who did not complete the apply flow encouraging them to finish the process.  This is a necessary step to be able to immediately boost the applicant rates when leveraging a Talent Network Form.

** 60% is the general “average” we observe but there is a very wide variance on this number – sometimes it’s low and only a 20% drop off,  other times its 90%… and it varies by Job Type, ATS, geography etc…and something we plan to do further analysis with recruitment metricsof in the coming months.

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