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The Applicant Manager Blog

Is Your Online Employment Application Applicant Friendly?

May 6, 2016

Digital tablet pc showing online job application form

You’re confident that you have a great company culture. Your current employees are happy and retention is at an all-time low. Why, then, are you struggling to get enough applicants to fill your open positions?

More than likely, the problem is with your online application process.

Imagine a candidate coming to your site ready to apply. They’ve already done their research, been on your social media sites, checked out Glassdoor reviews, and visited your website. After thirty minutes of trying to navigate a system that asks multiple choice or yes/no questions, many of which don’t feel like a fit, and then requiring them to both download a resume and enter in the exact same information into separate fields, the candidate becomes frustrated and gives up. This is especially true when the candidate has the option of applying to several other companies.

Too often, companies are asking would-be applicants to work through a complicated or confusing online application that is time-consuming, has technical problems or glitches, and asks for a tremendous amount of information.

Most online applications are employer friendly. They’re looking for key words or phrases and sometimes programmed to filter based off of yes/no answers. This is designed to save the employer time. This can also turn a lot of applicants off.

 

Is there a better way?

There absolutely is a better way. What you want to focus on is user experience.  There are some key things to think about as you navigate the look and feel of your online application.

Applicant Tracking Systems like TAM give you the option of customizing the user experience by selecting which positions you’ll require the employment application for, and which cases you’ll just require a resume and a few questions.  In cases where you’ll only require a resume and a handful of questions, you can automatically send an invitation to complete the full employment application at a later time.

Additionally, don’t forget that many applicants can be found before the online application process even begins. Check out potential candidates through social media sites like Linked In, where you can get a good idea of their background, skills, professional involvement, publications, and certifications. You can also check out references and endorsements left by current and former leaders and colleagues. This is a great way to get an idea of whether or not a candidate is a potential match for your company before starting the application and interview process. Reaching out to passive job seekers through social media gives them an idea of who you are and what your company is all about. If and when the time comes for them to officially apply online, they already have a relationship with you, and are more likely to complete the online process.

 

What Employers Should Keep in Mind

Unfortunately, there are sometimes things included on employment applications that violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws. For example, an employer may be looking to understand if someone can work the required schedule of a position, and ask whether or not they have reliable child care arrangements worked out. Another common question that seems innocuous enough is the date someone graduated from high school. This could be used to guess someone’s age, and should be left off of an application.

Employers should always be sure that they are not including questions on their online application surrounding the following:

  • Age
  • Child Care Needs
  • Criminal Record
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Financial Situation/Status
  • Marital Status
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Religion

It’s important to remember that all questions should be focused on the job itself, the requirements of the position, and gathering information about an applicant’s skills and qualifications.

Here are some examples of things permissible on an employment application:

  • Are you able to lift up to 25 lbs. as is required by this position?
  • Are you able to work overtime hours when necessary?
  • This position requires 30 percent travel. Are you able to meet that requirement?

There are additional measures that some employers take to protect themselves from litigation. You may consider including these disclosures somewhere on your online application as well:

  • That your company is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).
  • That the application is void if information is intentionally not provided.
  • That your company is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • A statement about how long it may take for the applicant to receive notice from you.
  • Require that the applicant certifies that the information is accurate.

 

It is critical that your online application follow state and federal guidelines with regard to discrimination. Most importantly, remember that your online application needs to be focused on the applicant and their user experience, and less on the technology supporting a recruiting process that encumbers and frustrates the candidate.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your Applicant Tracking System can provide a great applicant experience, contact us today.

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