Are Your Applicants Dedicated or Desperate?
by Ryan Kohler
SPOILER ALERT: I’m about to get on my soap box!
Countless times I have been told by an HR manager: “if they aren’t dedicated enough to complete our entire application form, then they aren’t serious about being considered for the job.”
Many job seekers are willing to do anything you ask them to do just to be considered
I know many of you reading this are currently nodding your heads in agreement with that statement. If you truly believe this, then I have a couple of questions for you:
- What proof do you have that a job seeker’s willingness to complete a 20 to 60 minute long application in the eager hope of being considered for an opening, proves that they are dedicated?
- Do you have validation studies that prove that application completion predicts better performance on the job?
Reasons Applicants Fill Out Your Long Application
Is it more likely that job seekers who are willing to complete a drawn out application process are simply desperate?
- They are desperate to work for your company. Because you are a preferred employer, many job seekers are willing to do anything you ask them to do just to be considered (I know of at least one major big box store that asks job seekers for their SSN number not once, but THREE different times during the hour long initial application process; which by the way, is completely illegal here in Utah and a major identity theft red flag, yet, people still apply).
- They are desperate for the job you are offering. Your job is so appealing (either in pay, flexibility, benefits, etc.) that job seekers are willing to do whatever you ask to be considered. Or . . .
- Are they just desperate for any job? Perhaps they are out of work and have limited options in the current economic climate, or maybe they are on unemployment and are required to power through applications in order to qualify for benefits.
The best candidates are usually the ones that have lots of other opportunities
Reasons Applicants Don’t Fill Out Your Long Application
If it isn’t a lack of dedication, then what are the REAL reasons behind qualified job seekers not completing your long application form? Here’s a list of valid reasons job seekers have given me for not completing an application.
- Supply and demand: this is one of the undisputed laws of the Internet, and it’s time for HR to embrace it. Simply put: what makes HR happy when it comes to information collection actually has the reverse effect on job seekers. The more questions you ask, the less likely someone is to complete your application.
- They have other job opportunities available: let’s be real here; you wouldn’t want to hire someone who isn’t qualified enough to have other options, right? Unfortunately for HR, the best candidates are usually the ones that have lots of other opportunities. If you make it hard for them to apply, you make it really easy for them to go elsewhere.
- They feel like you don’t value their time: the best candidates are smart. They know what information you actually need for screening, and know when you are asking them unnecessary questions. It offends them when you ask questions that aren’t primary contributors to the job thereby wasting their valuable time.
- Your hiring process is a direct reflection of your company: if it’s bad, then applicants equate that experience with your employee climate as well. To them, an archaic application process that wastes their time forces them to think twice about working for your company because they know they are better suited for an organization that’s more innovative and forward thinking – this type of environment is far more likely to be fulfilling.
- They value their references: smart job seekers know that good references are vital to landing a job, but they aren’t willing to hand them over to just anyone. Everytime someone calls a reference, it uses up a little bit of their “good will.” They want to conserve their references’ generosity for when it actually counts – the point when they are about to get a job offer. Also, their best references are often co-workers or even managers. Unless they know that they are one of your finalists, they can’t risk having word get out that they are on the market.
- They protect their identity: even if it is legal to collect SSN, DOB, or Driver’s License numbers in your state, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary for you to require it. I’m sure that your company isn’t planning on abusing this data, but asking for this type of personal information before you have conducted an in-person interview, throws up major red risk flags to smart job seekers. Realistically, a 14 yr old in Russia is savvy enough to throw up a bogus hiring site, post a job on CraigsList, and start capturing SSN numbers. Let’s not forget that despite your company’s best intentions, it’s not ill-conceived to imagine one of your employees going rogue and downloading a spreadsheet full of SSNs on their way out the door. Or what if one of your employees is carrying them around on a thumb drive and accidentally leaves it at McDonalds during their lunch break? Identity fraud is a MAJOR issue these days so it’s not unusual for job seekers to question the motives of a company getting SSN info in the beginning phases of the application process.
Create a short version of your application, post a job, and then measure how many additional job seekers apply
Steps to Get Applicants to Fill Out Your Application
What can an employer do to minimize job seeker discontent, maximize their applicant pool, and collect all the necessary information for screening and compliance?
Step 1 – Collect only the information you need, when you need it. This means that your initial expression of interest (think online resume & questionnaire) should only include 10 to 20 job screening questions, a resume upload, race/gender/vets status (if required), and source. All job seekers (even one using his/her iPhone) should be able to complete this step in 2 to 5 minutes.
Step 2 – Make sure that your job seekers know that your initial application process is short by putting it in the job ad. It is as simple as typing at the bottom of your job ad: “We value your time, so to be considered for this job, you will only be asked to fill out a short 2 to 3 minute questionnaire. If we feel you would be a good fit for this position, you will be asked to complete a full application at the time of the interview.”
Step 3 – Collect additional information as you need it. Just because you didn’t collect the full application up front, doesn’t mean you have to go back to a paper application. ApplicantPro allows employers to send out email requests, and collect additional information from job seekers online to be added to their application record. This means that full applications, background check authorization forms, and much more can be collected later in the hiring process when the job seekers are engaged and willing to provide the information to you.
Our data shows that when the application process is executed properly, it can dramatically increase applicant flow, but you don’t have to take my word for it. The great thing about the Internet is that it is easy to test concepts like this. All you need to do is create a short version of your application, post a job, and then measure how many additional job seekers apply.
Sign up for a free trial of ApplicantPro, and let us prove the results to you.
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