How Your Job Application Process Could be Driving Away Top Candidates

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

Hiring top talent in this current job market is tough enough. The last thing you want to do is drive away good candidates because of your job application process.

Unfortunately, though, that’s exactly what is happening with some employers including with some Animal Health and Veterinary employers.

I was recently contacted by a job seeker in the Veterinary profession. This candidate has been a federal veterinarian in the past, now working in private practice for many years. Because of these facts, the candidate has a lengthy resume. (At the very least, it’s longer than many Veterinary professionals). This veterinarian contacted me to inquire about resume and job application services. He was interested in finding a service that would post his resume and apply for jobs for him.

Why was this candidate asking such a question? Because he is lazy? Absolutely not.

This candidate was asking the question because he said every time he applied for a job on an employer’s website, the application process required him to enter his entire resume rather than just upload a Word Document version of it. Some of the positions for which this he was applying were government-based, requiring him to enter all of his jobs and experience back to Veterinary school.

Consequently, it was taking this individual hours to enter his resume information into job applications. Needless to say, this candidate was exasperated, through no fault of his own.

A simple rule with tangible consequences

That’s only one part of the problem with this case study. The other part is that since a highly qualified and experienced candidate was not able to successfully apply for positions, the organizations with those open positions were not aware of the person’s candidacy. This person could have been the perfect candidate. However, the hiring managers working for those organizations didn’t know that. Why? Because they didn’t receive the candidates job application or the information contained in the person’s resume!

There is a simple rule that applies to job applications, online or otherwise. In fact, it’s a simple rule that applies to just about everything in life. That rule is as follows:

If you make something difficult to do, people are less likely to do it.

So if you make a job application difficult to fill out, candidates will be less likely to do it. Even very qualified candidates like the one in this case study may not have the time or be willing to take the time to do it. In fact, it could be argued that top candidates are less likely to “jump through hoops” on a job application. Remember, the majority of top candidates are passive candidates, which means they’re not even looking for a new Animal Health job or Veterinary job.

So a top candidate who is willing to fill out an online job application is something of a mini-miracle itself. If you’re in a position to have a top candidate fill out your application, but they can’t do so because you’ve made it endlessly complicated, that definitely defeats the purpose. Finding top candidates is difficult enough. With a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, you’re convincing them to change their mind about filling out your organization’s job application.

That is the very definition of counter-productive, the result of a simple rule that has very tangible consequences.

An important question to ask

Two years ago, job board site CareerBuilder conducted a survey of job seekers and wrote a report based on that survey. According to the report, 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications. They quit for two main reasons:

  1. The length of the application
  2. The complexity of the application

As you can probably understand, some employers design and use the application process to qualify candidates and identify the best ones. However, while their intentions are good, there are unintended consequences, those consequences being that candidates—including highly qualified ones—are not finishing their applications.

Only a fraction of top candidates are active job seekers, meaning that only a fraction of them are actually looking for a new employment opportunity. Then consider, at least according to CareerBuilder, that of all the job seekers who start filling out an application, 60% of them quit before they finish. That means 40% actually did finish the application.

So the important question to ask is this one: how many top passive candidates are contained within that 40%?

Logic would seem to dictate that the answer is not that many. We’re basically talking about “a fraction of a fraction of a fraction.” When viewed in that light, the odds are definitely not stacked in your organization’s favor.

The end result is a very small talent pool. To enjoy hiring success and to enjoy it more consistently, you must increase your pool of qualified candidates as much as possible. Online job applications, especially those that are labor-intensive and time-consuming, do NOT increase the talent pool. Not in terms of qualified candidates, anyway. For example, if you have 100 job seekers who fill out your job application, but only one of them is qualified, that is a very small talent pool. It is, in essence, a talent pool of one.

That’s why, in addition to making your job application process (online or otherwise) as simple and uncomplicated as it can possibly be, you should enlist the services of an experienced search consultant or recruiter with a track record of success.

Partnering with an experienced executive search consultant or recruiter is an excellent way to increase the size of your talent pool. That’s because search consultants have relationships with the top candidates in the marketplace. They know where these candidates are, and more importantly, they know what it will take to convince these candidates to make a move for another employment opportunity.

Rather than dissuade these candidates from applying for your position, they can convince them that your employment opportunity is the next best step in their career!

To sum things up, I get asked by employers on a regular basis, why didn’t this person just apply for our position directly? Maybe they didn’t know about the position or maybe they did. Sometimes the candidates even knew about the job but didn’t take the time to apply for a variety of different reasons. Then I reach out and convince them to apply. This is what search consultants and recruiters do on a daily basis. The best candidates typically already have a job and aren’t “looking” and have to be convinced and encouraged to apply.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1.By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2.By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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