Each year, our partners at Symphony Talent put on Transform a recruitment marketing conference. Transform brings together the best and brightest in talent acquisition, business transformation, recruitment marketing, people operations, and more.

Our Founder, James La Brash presented a session about how easy it is to overlook the importance of the apply flow on the candidate experience, mostly because detailed analytics are so hard to come by and because the ATS experience usually feels like it’s “out of our hands.” His session focused on real apply flow data from InFlight customers and he shared four insights that illustrate how critical the apply flow is in the candidate journey and what organizations can do to improve it this year. 

James’s session had some great insights, and we wanted to share them here. 


Surprise 1: 85% of applicants don’t see the careers site  

On average, we find 15% of candidates apply from the careers site. The other 85% are sent right to the job description from job boards, aggregators, ads, or recruitment marketing campaigns, bypassing the careers site completely. This means that they are missing out on all the employer branding and recruitment materials that you have spent so much time and money on. 

The takeaway here  make sure the whole apply process communicates the same things that your careers site does so that everyone gets the same brand experience regardless of where they start from. 

Four reasons your ATS needs to match your employer brand 

Surprise 2: There is very little “Now” in “Apply Now”  

We tested the Fortune 50’s apply flows by starting on a job board (since that’s where 85% of candidates start). We wanted to see how long it took from clicking “Apply Now” to get to the actual job application. The results surprised us. 

On average, it took 5 steps, 2 forms, 7 fields, and 1 minute 40 seconds before you get to actually fill out the application. Candidates start at the job board, get directed to the job description (often with the same info from the job board), then need to sign up for a talent network, then need to sign up for the ATS (again, usually asking for the same information), then they can complete the job application (which again usually asks for duplicate information).  

This long and repetitive process can often turn candidates off from finishing the apply process and leaves them with a poor impression of your organization. 



Surprise 3: Time is not on our side   

60% of candidates bounce at the user registration page, and candidates are 365% more likely to abandon an application that takes more than 15 minutes to complete. We routinely see that candidates will abandon the application process at steps that take the most time. Top talent isn’t going to waste time on a lengthy, redundant apply process. 

Most ATS’s these days let you defer registration until after the job application is submitted. If you have this option, you should do it. Also, don’t ask for information that you don’t absolutely need to evaluate the candidate. If you do need to collect a lot of information, break it up over multiple pages and provide a progress bar so candidates can see where they are in the process. 

How to Get More Completed Job Applications from Top Talent 



Surprise 4: Mobile is critical in key sectors  

We expected that tech companies would get more mobile applications. Surprise! That wasn’t the case. The data showed that the Logistics and Healthcare industries (drivers and nurses) were most likely to apply via mobile – which makes sense since they don’t spend their day in front of a computer. By making a mobile optimized apply flow (not just mobile-friendly), we have seen mobile application rates increase by 700% on average.  These are candidates you may be missing out on.  

Mobile apply flow pie charts

What secrets is your apply flow hiding?  

Improving your apply process will allow you to attract high quality candidates faster. These 4 secrets are some that we have discovered, but every apply flow is unique. The best way you can have an impact today is to walk the candidate journey yourself. Start at a job board and see what the candidate sees. Use your phone if you suspect your ideal candidate will apply that way. The specific parts of the process that need attention will be clear if you take the time to do this exercise. 

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