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Make Your Apply Process More Like Amazon (and Less Like a Jungle)

Shannon Seery
June 19 ․ 8 min read


Symphony Talent - Candidate Apply ExperienceWhat’s in your shopping cart?

I’ll admit it: I love online shopping, especially Amazon. When that smiling brown box arrives, I’m usually all smiles, too!  Maybe it’s because I’m almost always satisfied with the purchase I’ve made: I know its features, color, weight, and dimensions. Just as important, I’ve done my homework reading the description carefully as well as reviews from other customers - because we’ve all had that bad experience when you don’t! And occasionally, I even end up buying something that wasn’t originally on my radar because the site recommended an alternative that’s an even better fit.

By the time I’m ready to checkout and hit the order button, I feel confident in my choice. That’s because my online shopping experience was quick, relevant, informative, easy - and tailored specifically to me.

So why am I telling you about my great customer experience?

In recruitment marketing, employers have customers too: in this case, they’re called “candidates.” And more and more, candidates are expecting their “job shopping” experience to be just as personalized, relevant, and engaging as anything Amazon, Seamless, Macy’s, or Uber delivers.

Interest in an employer brand, engagement with that brand, and ultimately converting to an active applicant is very similar to purchasing consumer products and services online. But this probably isn’t news to you. After all, there’s a lot of talk in the recruitment marketing world about the Amazon customer experience because it’s considered to be one of the best in class - and it works! In fact, the WorkTrends survey, administered by the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute, found that candidates who are satisfied with their experience are 38 percent more likely to accept a job offer.

It’s clear that having a quick and simple “checkout experience” or easy apply approach will help you win quality talent. So, the bigger question is, can you afford not to?

Take the application process – please!

Have you tried applying for a job with your own organization recently? You could be in for an eye-opener. In a world where the candidate rules (the customer is always right!), applicants simply won’t spend hours going through a cumbersome, intrusive or confusing experience. They’ll just go elsewhere. In fact, studies have shown that about 75% of candidates who start an application process drop off before they ever complete it. Unless you’re prepared to devote three quarters of your time, effort and budget to deliver zero results, it’s probably worth investigating the experience you’re currently delivering.

On LinkedIn’s Talent blog, Dr. John Sullivan, a well known HR thought leader, notes that "Netflix, Salesforce, Intel and Apple have all reduced their application time, in some cases to fewer than five minutes.” And speed-of-hire is also critical to hiring the best talent, because “the top ten percent of candidates are gone by the tenth day.” Clearly, “waiting and hoping” is no longer acceptable. Applicants want to know their application’s status almost immediately (in the same way that you want to be able to track your online order for the latest bestseller).

"In a world where the candidate rules, applicants won’t spend hours going through a cumbersome, intrusive or confusing experience. They’ll just go elsewhere. Studies have shown that about 75% of candidates who start an application process drop off before they ever complete it."

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By using recruitment marketing and talent acquisition technology that leverages machine learning, employers now have the ability to create a checkout style application experience that’s akin to an online “shopping cart,” making the entire process simple, quick and painless. And even if a candidate bails, all is not lost. By simply capturing a few key details (like an email address) you’ll have enough information to begin building – and nurturing – a strong candidate relationship through an omnichannel experience that includes email drip campaigns, “day in the life” videos, a personalized career home page, enhanced job descriptions and a host of other candidate-centric strategies that become more targeted with every interaction.

Meet your candidates where they live

If the desktop isn’t actually “dead,” it’s definitely not the default mode for today’s digitally native candidates. They want their information on the go – and expect to connect to employers when, how and where they want. According to the strategic consultancy Kelton, 86 percent of active candidates use smartphones to begin their job searches. A mobile-first approach is critical in recruitment marketing, and as a result, we’re seeing not only applications and career websites that work seamlessly across a multitude of devices, but also candidate-centric tactics like “text to apply” that give applicants the freedom and flexibility to connect with an opportunity easily – and on their own terms.

Final thought

It all comes down to thinking about the application experience from your candidate’s POV (after all, candidates are consumers!) and using automation and technology to make their journey relevant, authentic, dynamic, and intuitive at every touchpoint. The next time you shop online, pay close attention to your own experience and think about what you could be doing right now to “close the sale” with the applicants you covet most.

Want to know the top 5 HR technology trends on the horizon for the year ahead? View our free webinar on demand featuring Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research, Susan Russell, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at Nestlé Waters North America, and Symphony Talent's Shannon Seery - Download now.

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