As recruiters, we like to have a full candidate bank. This is how we identify the best employees for our clients and provide the excellent service we’re known for.
Over the years, we’ve had tens of thousands of candidates apply through our website. When we built our application page, we didn’t want them to spend lots of time applying for our jobs by having to create a password and fill multiple pages with long, annoying forms. To make things easy, we designed a simple one-page form and gave people the option to email us their resume, whatever was most convenient for them.
Our last form had 7 mandatory fields and 3 optional fields. It’s quite concise when compared to other recruitment companies. However, looking over the data for this form, we noticed that more that 53% of candidates bounced away from the application page without filling it. How many qualified applicants did we lose?
For busy top candidates with lots of career opportunities, long application forms can be a hassle, especially when life is filled with professional development, overtime and family demands. So we changed our form to 3 mandatory and 3 optional fields.
Shorter form, better results
After the change, the number of candidates who filled the form out went from 44% to 53%, which is a 20% increase in the application submission rate. In internet marketing language, this is called an increase in the conversion rate. And this increase is really incredible considering the number of qualified candidates we are looking for.
Conversely, some companies receive hundreds of thousands of applicants every year. In this case, there may be an urge to make the application process a little more difficult and to use the process itself as a screening tool. As a result of complicated application forms, some companies may feel they are only getting quality, committed and screened candidates. The truth is that few companies have the methods or the time to take random samples of the candidates who do not apply. When we ask candidates to complete complicated applications, many top candidates are likely going to the competition, and we are left in a constant recruitment struggle.
How long is too long?
Some companies’ application page require candidates to fill out an amazing amount of forms. One of the largest restaurant chains in the country has 12 pages to fill out and click through before finishing with a 50-page questionnaire assessment. This company has 47 mandatory fields to complete and 34 optional fields. This process is required even for entry-level restaurant workers.
For an industry that is publicly crying out for workers and is having trouble recruiting enough people to run its business properly, it seems counter-intuitive to require candidates to jump through so many hoops. In fact, when we look at job boards, it appears that most of the franchise restaurants get candidates to apply to personal email addresses rather than direct them to the corporate website.
As a result of such a complicated application system, the company’s recruitment process is fragmented and restaurants cannot leverage past applicants in applicant tracking systems, and franchises in the same community cannot see candidates who have applied to nearby restaurants.
The KISS principle
Could your company use 5-15% more applicants?
Most managers would say that they need more qualified applicants. But what if those qualified applicants are in the 5-15% of those who would apply if only your application form was simpler? Because the best candidates usually have busy careers, they have no time to fill out dozens of fields and answer 50 assessment questions. Assessing the candidate is the job of the interviewer, not the application form.
The best way to know is to keep data about your application submission rate and test, test, test!