When was the last time you applied for a job?

Have you tried applying to a job in your own company lately?

I ask because the length of time it takes to apply for a job has become ridiculous.  I hear about (and have experienced) 1/2 hour, 1 hour, and 1.5 hour long or longer application processes.  Then if there is a technical error or the system times you out, you sometimes have to start over.

In a survey last year by Jibe and Kelton Global, which polled more than 1,000 job seekers, they found 3 of 5 respondents said job applications are more difficult to fill out than other common applications, such as those required for a mortgage, student loan or health insurance.

Why is all this information needed?  Is it any wonder why we hear of such high application submission drop off rates (people who start the application process, but then give up or stop).  I have seen some figures showing over 50% of applicants not completing the process; and I have seen articles saying research shows 34% of candidates who try to apply for jobs don’t complete the application process.  Do you keep track of your drop off rates?

Often, we ask for a bunch of information that isn’t even needed or not needed right away.

For example, the employment history and education.  You often need your entire employment history cut and then pasted from the resume into the job application forms.  Sometimes it is not just month and year, but applicants are asked for the specific day (full date) of the beginning and end of each event. As a recruiter, I can say I have never looked at this information that is entered…and most recruiters I know also do not look at it.

The ATS system is often set up (probably default) to ask for references, which really are not needed until the end of the process.

What do we look at?

I am sure I am not the only recruiter who does this, but the first thing I look at are the prescreening questions that were filled out by the applicant.  I want to make sure the applicant meets the minimum requirements.  If there are a lot of applications, the preferences and weighting will show me who fits the needs the best.

Secondly, I open the resume and skim the resume.  This is what is forwarded to the hiring manager, and I need to make sure the skills are shown.  Also, I need to review it to form my questions about their history for our first conversation (if I decide to move forward with the applicant).

After processing and interviewing the candidate, I forward the resume onto the hiring manager and they interview further.

At no point is the work history that the applicant so diligently entered even reviewed in the applicant tracking system.  Also, I rarely read cover letters.  I know I am not the only one who sees months pass without reading one.  The information I need is found on the resume and gathered from a conversation with the candidate.

So why do we ask for this long application to be filled about and a cover letter attached?

No idea.  It is a waste of the candidate’s time.  I hear that a completed application is used for the background check, but if you need a paper or online application for the background check…that could be asked for at the end of the process…right before an offer is coming.  By then the candidate is much more invested in the the process and excited to work for you, and so will gladly complete the application.

What are the effects of a lengthy job application?

Candidate application fall out.  People don’t complete the process.  This is especially true of A-players and passive candidates who are somewhat interested but not really sure they want to change jobs.  A lengthy application convinces them it is not worth the effort (unless it is a company they singled out to work for).

Also, lengthy application processes make the candidates experience much poorer.  To put in all that effort and time, and then just receive a standardized rejection email (assuming you hear back at all).  What a slap in the face!

As a recruiter, I would be happy to just see the answered prescreening questions and an attached resume.  For future search capability, maybe also enter in the city, zip code, or locations they are willing to work at; professional category; highest level of education; employment type desired; and the basic fields that recruiters use all the time to search resumes on job boards. For the automated communications ability, the email address should be entered as well.   Much of this can be pulled from the resume automatically by the system and then ask the applicant to confirm it is right.

It would take 10 minutes or less to apply.  That is how long I think it should take to apply to a job…10 minutes or less.  You have all the information you need (as a recruiter) to determine if the candidate is a fit for this job and decide to interview or not, use the system to send automated messages, and be able to search for them on the ATS in the future.  Only what is needed and necessary…no more…no less.



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