Five ways technology is hindering your candidate experience

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A lot of time and money are invested in developing a candidate experience by organisations keen to keep their talent pipelines flowing, but is that investment being hindered by those organisations technology or lack thereof?

According to a CareerBuilder study there are five major technology-related barriers that can kill your candidate experience and your chances of landing great talent.

“Technology can be your greatest ally or enemy when you’re interacting with job candidates,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

“Job seekers today expect the application process to be fast, informative, more personalised – and mobile-optimised. The more in-demand one’s skill set is, the less likely the job seeker will be to jump through hoops. What the study shows us is companies that have a complex application process and don’t have the technology in place to routinely capture and re-engage candidates are at a competitive disadvantage.”

The five roadblocks identified by the study, which is part of a larger report titled “How Candidate Experience is Transforming HR Technology,” are:

1: Failing to capture interested candidates

Not all job seekers may have the time to apply for a position when they first come across it. According to the study, 39 per cent of job seekers feel the ability to leave their contact information with an employer and apply later is extremely or very important.

More than half (57 per cent) of HR professionals who answered the survey don’t use any tools to capture candidates who didn’t apply to their jobs, so there are a considerable number of missed opportunities to connect with more elusive talent. Only 23 per cent of HR professionals use a shortened version of an application to gather candidate information.

2: Failing to re-engage applicants

Another challenge HR is facing is maintaining relationships with viable candidates who weren’t hired, but could be a good fit for a job opening down the road. More than one-third of HR professionals reported that they don’t re-engage job candidates who weren’t offered a role – generally because they have moved on to the most current applicants or because no one has time to do so. While 38 per cent reported that they re-engage candidates every six months or more often, a significant number aren’t tapping into ready-made talent pools that have already expressed interest in their companies. Additionally, job seekers welcome continued communications. Two in five would like to receive emails about new opportunities opening up at companies.

3: Automating responses

While automated responses have become a popular means to inform candidates that the company received their application, many candidates (39 per cent) feel it’s not enough. Sixty-two per cent of job seekers expect more personalised communications. Sixty-seven per cent even expect a phone call from a recruiter after submitting an application.

4: Limiting applications to the desktop

Mobile technology has fueled the expectation that the job search experience should be the same whether you are on a desktop or mobile device. However, nearly half (46 per cent of HR professionals don’t offer candidates the option of accessing their ATS via a mobile device, mostly due to technical or resource constraints. Although one-third reported that they saw a bigger drop-off rate because their ATS was not mobile-optimised, only 24 per cent of all HR professionals think the ability to apply to a job via a mobile device should be considered part of the candidate experience. This raises a serious concern in light of the fact that when job-seekers can’t apply via a mobile device, 65 per cent said they rarely return to their desktop to finish the application.

5: Using a complex application process

The  study found 53 per cent of HR professionals feel a long application process is good as it weeds out less enthusiastic or less qualified applicants. However it also weeds out highly skilled, currently employed talent who are less likely to tolerate filling out multiple pages. Sixty per cent of job seekers said they have begun an online application, but ultimately didn’t finish it due to how long and complex it was.

More than half of HR professionals said their application process takes more than 20 minutes to complete. Nearly three in 10 job seekers believe the application process should take 10 minutes or less; 62 per cent said it should take no more than 20 minutes. Thirty-seven per cent of HR professionals said they typically ask more than 15 questions during their application process. Half  of job seekers said there should be no more than 10 questions.


  • Helena on 24/10/2014 12:20:58 p.m.

    You make good points and it is very helpful to hear your perspective, thank you.
    I agree that at a governance level (or many highly-skilled/specialist/hard to fill roles) the CV should speak for itself without need for screening questions. I understand that for candidates who are happily employed but open to a new opportunity we need to make it easy, engaging and simple for them to apply.

    I was more thinking of the roles that attract a large number of applicants, where many CVs blend together with very similar experiences and many applicants make it hard to establish their level of interest or motivation for the role by not covering this in their CV or cover letter.

    Another issue that I've seen on application forms lately has been the questions regarding criminal history and/or medical clearance in relation to the role. The reasoning behind including these questions comes down to applicants not being legally required to disclose the information unless specifically asked (which of course must be worded to not unlawfully discriminate). I personally dislike having these questions in an application form but many companies feel they are absolutely necessary.

  • Shane on 23/10/2014 8:39:58 a.m.

    When I have applied for governance positions, I simply attach my CV and put a period in each mandatory field. Whether or not the recruiter chooses to read my CV doesn't matter to me - it's my way of screening the prospective board (i.e. do I really want to work with a board that will hire a lazy recruiter?) I only apply for those roles I am interested in and qualified for, and work on the basis that someone really doing their best for their employer will actually take the time to review submissions.
    However, I know that some recruiters are lazy, so it's always a trade off for me between flicking the CV off or just ignoring the advert. The application process where it simply asks for a CV to be attached & gives me the option of a cover letter (or a field where I can quickly and succinctly sell myself) is the one I will always respond to.

    I don't even look for permanent roles (I have a very good position currently), although if one came to my attention, and it was clear that it was a simple process (like the one above) then I would probably spend the few minutes doing it. I'm not about to spend a lot of time completing screening questions that are all about saving the recruiter time and are not client (i.e. me) focused. Again, I use the ATS process as an employer screen.

    So to answer your question, create the ATS so that all I need to attach is a CV. If I don't include things like contact details in that document, then you have a very rough initial screen right there, and if you read the CV and like it, you have a lead for further (personal) follow up. The only downside is that without me completing all the fields in your ATS, you lose some ability to mine the data, but as teh article said, few were actually doing that anyway and if it was really important (and I think it should be) if the person is a star make some notes in the ATS while you read the CV.

  • Helena on 21/10/2014 1:15:53 p.m.

    How do we then improve the candidate experience for the 'talent' (the few that are too good for our existing application process and whom we certainly would hate to miss out on) but leave it as-is for the time wasters, the ones that are applying for every job under the sun with no effort invested in their application? It is a wasted effort to make the application process easier and hope that these browsing talents still submit one - they fall into a different category. They are the few that technology shouldn't hinder because we should be sourcing them and building relationship with them through our networks. That personal approach you describe, which all candidate really wants, is worth its weight in gold when you are dealing with quality candidates that you both want and need in your business. But as nice as it is, the personalized, yet somehow simplified approach that the masses of candidates want, is not actually due to many of them and would waste valuable time in implementing.

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