March 28, 2023

How to Shorten Your Apply Process

Liz Anderson headshot
Liz Anderson
Content Writer
March 28, 2023

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Finding the right candidate has always been difficult but recently it has become something of a nightmare. How can you find great candidates in such a tight market? Well, in today’s world, squeezing every last drop of juice out of your job ads can make all the difference. Make sure you’re getting every possible candidate by being thoughtful about your job ad content.

As we’ve said before, timing is everything when it comes to your job ad’s performance. Perhaps most importantly, the time it takes for a candidate to complete an application determines your volume of candidates. 

The importance of a shorter apply process cannot be overstated. In a still-tight labor market, shortening that process will give you more options, and perhaps broaden the pool enough to find the dream candidate. Shorten your apply process, get more candidates. Simple, right? 

However, I’m sure you have one more question: how can I shorten my apply process? It might feel like every question asked, every piece of information, is essential to understanding the person applying to your position. But I promise you, there are some easy ways to shorten the apply process without making sacrifices. Let’s journey through them together!

Be Intentional (and Sparing) With Your Questions

Okay, starting strong by immediately breaking my promise and asking you to sacrifice. I’m sorry, but really what did you expect? In this tight market, compromise is key

Streamline your apply process by pushing some of those “must-ask” questions further down the hiring funnel. Be intentional about your apply process: decide what questions are make-or-break that will determine if a candidate will move to your next round and ask those right off the bat. Save in-depth questions that will require long, lengthy answers for the following rounds. In a way, it’s a win-win – your candidates get a shorter apply process, and you get to filter out the noise early. Instead of hearing from every candidate what their goals are in this position, for example, you’ll only learn this from your top picks.

Drop the Questions on Personal Data!

We get it, you want to get to know your candidate. Personality, work habits, and the like are all important to understanding if your candidate is the one. You know what’s not necessary? Asking for their Social Security number or driver’s license number! These personal data questions will turn off candidates – and you typically don’t need it this early on in the apply process. 

Avoid Unnecessary “Requirements” 

You have a lot of questions for your candidates, and we understand that! But don’t create irrelevant prerequisites. Setting requirements for a certain number of characters to answer a question will not give you the robust, exciting answers you’re looking for. Instead, it will turn the candidate off, losing you a potentially great worker. Reconsider the “necessities.”  

Don’t Be Repetitive on Work Experience!

So you ask for a resume. Okay! Lovely way to learn about your candidate and their work experience. The candidate attaches their resume. No complaints here. But – then your candidate keeps clicking to the next page and… GASP! Blank field upon blank field asking for previous work experience. Now your candidate has to take the time to fill out information they have already given you. You’re certainly at risk of losing potential candidates if you double-dip like this. 

When searching for past work experience, choose one or the other but please don’t ask your applicants for the same information twice. This creates a poor candidate experience (which can reflect poorly on your employer brand) – they’ll get annoyed, potentially closing the application altogether. You lose candidates – especially the good ones, they know their worth and won’t labor through a job application unnecessarily.

If you want to be really bold, scrap the resume altogether, and just ask for a couple instances of work experience. If you’re recruiting in industries that collect a lot of mobile applies, this is definitely recommended. Which brings me to my next point…

Optimize for Mobile 

In a world that is increasingly lived through our phones, more and more candidates are scrolling for their next opportunity, rather than sitting down with a laptop. This is especially true for workers in the service economy, as opposed to those looking for a traditional “desk job,” as we’ve highlighted in our Benchmark report. If they’re searching on their mobile device, why not meet them where they’re at? 

Curating a mobile-ready apply process forces you to be concise – just think about the ways consumers use their phones: 280-character tweets, minute-long video, an article on capybaras, another minute-long video. A million different things are begging for the attention your application so desperately needs. To compete in this economy for attention, you need to be particularly savage about the cuts to your application. 

Test! Test! Test!

So you’ve heeded my advice, cut the down-the-funnel questions, removed repetitive processes, and then optimized your application for mobile. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Now I have one last ask: go through your application and time how long it takes you to finish on both desktop and mobile, and note any points of friction (including some of those mentioned above). Our research (highlighted in the first chart in this blog) shows that an application that takes less than 1-5 minutes sees an apply rate four times larger than one that takes longer than 15 minutes. So, buckle up, go through your application (and don’t rush! I know you know the questions!), and prepare to judge your work. 

If your application is between 1-5 minutes, you’re an absolute star! If it’s more like 6-15 minutes, there’s definitely some room for improvement, but if you feel like every last question is necessary, I’ll give you a pass. If you’re over 15 minutes, start this article from the top and go through with a more critical eye. You’ve got this!

Happy shortening!  

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