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Is your Online Application Process Hurting You More Than It’s Helping You?

Written by: Rikka Brandon
Published on: Aug 7, 2017

Head on DeskIt’s awesome what Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) can do now.

  • Any business can have a careers or jobs page
  • Any business can have their postings online – with an online application process
  • Some screen or rate applicants automatically
  • Some include pre-hire assessments or tests
  • Many include questions to pre-qualify applicants
  • Some don’t require a resume and use “Apply With” tools to simplify the process

In short, they are pretty amazing - except when they aren’t.

If your organization was an early adopter of online recruiting technology, you may have been on cutting edge…once.  But unless you went with a SAAS version or have been constantly updating it – chances are you’re using the equivalent of 70’s station wagon. Sure, it “works” but there are MUCH better choices available today.

So, let’s figure out if your ATS is hurting your recruiting efforts as much (or more) than helping them.

Step One:

Go through the process as a new applicant. Apply for a job through your own website to see their experience and:

  • Time the process
  • Note anything that isn’t intuitive
  • Question if any part of the process is frustrating during

Signs of Trouble

If it takes more than 3 minutes to apply - your application process is too long. Ideally, this should take less than 2 minutes. Taking longer means it’s not intuitive or easy. You may be under the impression this will weed out “tire kickers”, but you’d be wrong. The only people you’re weeding out are high potential people who aren’t 100% sure they should change jobs...and you gave them too much time to rethink applying. Desperate job seekers are much more willing to stick with a lengthy application process than high potential candidates.

If your process feels frustrating or counter-intuitive, it sends subconscious warning bells to your applicants.  They start wondering if everything at your company is old school or inefficient. It’s subtle, but not the message you want to send as they consider you as an employer.

Step Two:

Verify everything that should be happening on the back end is actually happening, such as:

  • Did your application get linked to the right job opening?
  • Did your resume come through formatted correctly?
  • Did any notes or additional info end up in the right place?
  • Did you (or the person in charge of the job) get notified about the new application?
  • Did an auto response confirming receipt of the resume to the applicant?

Chances are during this second step,  you’ll find a lot of things you didn’t expect. Figure out if issues are connected to settings you can change – or if you’re using an out-of-date tool.

There are many robust ATS tools available for employers with  a staff of under ten to tens of thousands. You can find a tool that will check all your “boxes” and streamline your application process.  



Rikka Brandon is the author of the best-selling book Hire Power: Everything Entrepreneurs Need To Know To Hire Awesome People. She’s the creator of the Hire Power Program, an online program designed to help small businesses build a rock-solid recruiting strategy and stop settling when they hire. She’s the Founder of and  Building Gurus. Rikka is the go-to girl for growth-minded entrepreneurs and forward-thinking business leaders and is considered as the USA’s Top Hiring Expert for Small Businesses.