First Impressions: Why the application experience is so important

The application experience is an overlooked aspect of recruitment and hiring.Woman at home using iPad and notepad to apply for job, application experience, remote worker, job seeker.

When examining recruitment and hiring practices, it’s tempting to focus on everything that brings a job seeker to the point where they see and click on your open role. There is so much to refine, like institutional branding, job descriptions, social media posts, and choosing where to share the role. But getting top candidates in your hiring pool takes more than that: it also depends on the applications experience itself. It’s not enough to have a job seeker click on your role—you have to keep them engaged until they hit submit. So, what can you do to improve the application experience?


First impressions

Starting the application experience is a candidate’s first impression of your institution. Make that impression count! If you haven’t already, make sure your job description is up-to-date and readable—there is so much competition for a person’s attention today that an overly long or dense position description is a huge barrier.

Next, make sure that your employment website or application portal reflect what makes your institution unique. Talk about your campus and your student population. Include video tours and photos, or a welcome clip from your institution’s president or other leader. Take a peek at your institution’s admissions page – what visuals do they have that give prospective students a sense of Quote: See if you can take advantage of the marketing materials already at play and repurpose them to appeal to prospective faculty and staff.your mission and culture? See if you can take advantage of the marketing materials already at play and repurpose them to appeal to prospective faculty and staff.


Modern and streamlined, mobile-friendly application experience

When was the last time you went through your own application process? Try doing that now. How long did it take you? Were there unnecessary or outdated supplemental questions? Or were there no supplemental questions at all?

According to a CareerBuilder survey, job seekers want a fast and easy application experience. In fact, one in five candidates will drop off an application process if it takes more than ten minutes or is too dense. How does your experience compare?

Don’t forget to look at your application experience on a phone or tablet. 60% of candidates search and apply for jobs on mobile devices—if your portal isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll lose out on applicants.


Make the most of that first communication

To solidify that great first impression, make the most of your first communication with candidates. An automatic email to let an applicant know their information was received is the perfect opportunity to let them know who you are. Add a personal flair to that email with touches like a testimonial from a current faculty or staff member, or a photo album of a recent employee event—show the candidate the less tangible benefits of joining your institution.

Don’t forget how important the rest of your communication is, too. Surveys show that more than half of job seekers will give up on a submitted application if they haven’t heard from the job poster within two weeks of applying. Simply reaching out to update candidates on the progress of their application—via automated emails or personal ones—can keep them engaged longer.


Final thoughts

When examining your application experience, remember that 68% of employees believe that their experience as a candidate reflects how an employer treats its staff and faculty. Don’t risk a bad first impression that could cause you to lose out on top talent—make sure your application experience reflects the best of your institution.