A simpler application means a wider pool of candidates and better opportunities to make the best hire.

Today’s recruiters are in a bit of a pickle. The universality of job boards means that their postings are exposed to thousands of potential applicants…but it also means sifting through an average of 250 applications per job posting. Job seekers struggle through long, clunky application processes, which is probably why as many as 60 percent of applicants abandon an application before it’s complete.

The status quo is clearly not working for job seekers or recruiters. So how can recruiters streamline their process to get desired applicants while also filtering out unqualified applicants?
 
1. Keep it Simple. Provide clear, concise instructions and eliminate any questions that aren’t necessary at the initial stage of the hiring process. Job descriptions should be customized for each opening. Ask yourself these questions when writing a job description: How has the position changed since the last time you hired someone? Did the previous job opening attract many irrelevant candidates because of misleading information in the description?

Job applicants spend an average of 76 seconds reading job descriptions before applying, so put the most important information at the top, including experience and knowledge requirements. Differentiate between required skills and bonus skills that aren’t required. Describe the day-to-day tasks of the job so job seekers can easily evaluate if the position is a good fit. The job description should be the blueprint for how the candidate will be evaluated at every step.

Most importantly, don’t underestimate mobile applications.

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, 74 percent of job seekers used mobile or tablet devices to view a company’s job openings, while 49 percent of employers said mobile applications were not a priority for their company.

Mobile applications set your company apart and using robust keyword filters keeps your inbox from being flooded with unwanted applications.
 
2. Keep It Organized. Once you have simplified your application process, it is up to you to be organized in your response. Almost half of job seekers report their biggest frustration is never hearing back from a company. This frustration leads them to come away with a negative opinion of the company, to the extent that they may not purchase products or services from the company in the future.

If you’re going to reject a candidate, sending a reply provides clarity and demonstrates involvement in the application process. Respond quickly to applicants you want to take to the next step, or else they may be scooped up by another company or turned off by your lack of communication. Always answer applicant questions. All the employment branding in the world cannot repair a bad reputation for keeping candidates in the dark.

The key to responding quickly is having an efficient internal process. This is another area where you can trim the fat from your hiring process by cutting unnecessary internal steps that delay your ability to quickly reply to applicants.
 
3. Keep it Smart. Ancient application portals are the stuff of nightmares for job seekers and an outdated, poorly organized or tedious application process reflects badly on your company. The initial application is often the applicant’s first direct contact with you and you want to leave a positive impression.

Avoid the common pitfalls that candidates say discourage them from applying. If your company’s application process has 20 steps, requires references and more than 30 minutes to complete, chances are good you can improve it.

Avoid imposing limited requirements for accepted document file types or type of browser. If your application portal or software cannot be improved, consider switching to another product or an in-house application process, such as using Google Forms to automatically sort candidates into spreadsheets.

Clearly written job descriptions are a must, as has been mentioned, but also consider your job titles. An obscure or uncommon job title will not populate in a candidate’s search, and if applicants don’t understand what the job is, they won’t apply for it.

Remember that the interview process goes both ways: You are interviewing the candidate and the candidate is interviewing the company to see if it is a good fit. A well-written job description, quick application process, adequate resume screening filters and keywords, prompt communication with applicants and a snappy internal consideration period are all good ways to stand out.

If you’re not sure how well your application process works, test it. If you hit a snag or it takes you longer than 5-10 minutes to complete, take it as a sign: It’s time to improve. Evaluate your process every time you hire a candidate and use what you learn to optimize your efforts in the future. The pay-off: less work, better hires.