Hiring Best Practices

Don't Let Your Application Form Narrow Your Talent Funnel

Dec 12, 2022 - Cat DiStasio

As employers struggle to attract enough quality candidates for their open requisitions, many are overlooking a key obstacle: the job application form.

Many employers haven’t updated their talent funnels to respond to the current challenges of the talent market. Your talent funnels may still be operating like it’s 2019, trying to aggressively weed candidates out early in the process so your team isn’t overwhelmed with applicants. But, in a job seeker’s talent market, this setup may be keeping some of your best talent from entering your funnel at all.

If your job ads send job seekers straight to an online application with no other options for engaging with your recruiting team, you might lose them right away. Or, if your application form is too long, you’ll lose them halfway through it. Or, if your ATS is filtering applicants too narrowly, you’ll lose them there. (See where this is going? Nowhere good.)

The good news is that you have options—effective, engaging ones at that. Rather than sending job seekers to an application black hole, you can use virtual hiring events as your call-to-action for job ads and hold off on the application until later in the hiring process.

What’s Wrong with Job Applications?

There are a lot of reasons for job seekers to dislike job applications. They often require a hefty time commitment, can be annoyingly redundant and aren’t guaranteed to lead to a conversation with a recruiter, let alone an interview or a job offer. More than half (60%) of job seekers will bail on an application if it’s too long and who would blame them?

Change happens when TA leaders embrace the reality that the candidate experience starts long before the application. And, in many cases, sending people straight to an impersonal form can harm the candidate experience or end it prematurely. Research tells us this is because today’s job seekers prefer to talk to a recruiter or hiring manager early on in the process, before they invest hours filling out an application.

Applications can require more time commitment than candidates are ready to invest, deter candidates who anticipate the application black hole, and even make candidates feel the effort is unbalanced. Just like you wouldn’t want to fill out a lengthy form to learn more about a product you might be interested in buying, job seekers want more information and opportunities for engagement before they commit to that effort.

We’re not suggesting that you eliminate your job application. We know you probably need an application somewhere in the talent funnel but you should be asking whether yours is in the right place. Because if it’s the first step to entering your talent process, you are probably losing candidates to other employers who have gotten savvy to applicant preferences and get candidates ENGAGED and EXCITED as early in the process as possible.

Driving Candidates to Virtual Hiring Events

If you want to deliver an engaging, compelling candidate experience, a dry and boring application form is not the way to go. With competition for top talent continuing to be high, employers cannot afford to hang on to outdated recruiting funnels that limit their talent pool.

Instead, link your job ads to virtual events that offer a convenient, informative, and (dare we say) even fun way to learn about a potential employer. To generate interest and foster engagement, host virtual recruiting events where candidates can learn more about your organization’s culture and values, as well as what it’s like to work there, the benefits you offer, and career development opportunities. We specifically recommend “Meet the Leadership” events, “Day in the Life” events, and employee resource group events to build engagement at the top of the funnel.

You want to drive candidates to virtual hiring events because they are more engaging than an application form—but also because participating in those events can keep candidates engaged longer. Our research shows that a VAST majority of candidates who attended virtual hiring events (on Brazen) are likely to take next steps. Candidates also prefer virtual events to in-person career fairs. A majority (83%) of job seekers who attended a virtual hiring event on Brazen said they prefer virtual over in-person.

Best Practices for Job Applications

Understanding that a job application will likely continue to be part of your process, let’s explore how best to handle applications so you get what you need for employee data and compliance purposes, without hindering the candidate experience or interfering with your hiring goals.

Keep it short. Lengthy applications aren’t fun or engaging, especially if you ask candidates to type out the details of each position when they’ve already uploaded a resume.

Timing matters. Rather than requiring a lengthy application as a prerequisite for engaging with your recruiting team, push it later in the hiring process.

Leverage technology. You can use a Brazen hiring event registration form to add in some “knock-out” questions to make sure your team is talking to the most qualified registrants.

Divide and conquer. Considering using a shortened version of your application as a ‘registration’ for an interview or following an interview as part of the ‘evaluation’ period. This could be as simple as a very short initial interest form that takes just a minute to complete, so you can capture a job seeker’s basic information and contact details so you can share news and updates with them. You can use a formal application later in the hiring process to collect the other information you need.

Make it seamless. To meet EEOC requirements, you could add a form to the event registration or include those questions as part of the candidate feedback process.

Candidate Experience Leads the Way

Revamping your talent funnel will take a little bit of work but the rewards are well worth it. Using virtual hiring events at the top of your funnel to build interest and deliver an engaging candidate experience will help you expand your reach, engage with more qualified candidates, and keep them in your pipeline longer. As the talent shortage continues, demanding that employers respond creatively to candidate preferences, employers that recognize the importance of an engaging, exciting recruiting process—and save the boring paperwork for later in the process—will surely come out ahead.

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