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Are you discouraging candidates?

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Are you discouraging candidates?
Sam Wilson, The 20th of July, 2015

Why application methods matter

It has been widely reported that, since late 2014, the UK job market is driven by candidates, rather than employers (Sullivan:2014). In a candidate-driven market, employers must compete for the top talent and those who are not willing to fight are likely to miss out. This has had a huge impact on the way that employers and recruiters must approach, not only attracting candidates but, how they retain them throughout the application process. Candidate experience is as crucial as ever but as the world of recruitment changes, how do employers and recruiters change along with it?

In a market where the candidates hold the power, it is vitally important that we understand as much about job seekers as possible. Only then are we able to provide them with the optimal candidate experience. A recent study of over 500 active Jobsgopublic users searching for vacancies within the public and not for profit sectors, delved into preferred methods of application. It also uncovered the ways in which an organisation’s choice of application method, and the functionality of that method, can affect a candidate’s impression of them.

Every employer has their own idea regarding which application method is most effective in gaining an accurate insight into a candidate’s skills, experience and personality. However, in a candidate-driven market, it is important to consider the impact your chosen approach has on your employee value proposition (EVP).

Our exclusive study discovered that an overwhelming majority of participants would rather apply through an online application form with 54% selecting this as their preference. On top of this, 40% of candidates claim that an organisation’s choice of application method would influence their opinion of them.

Aligning your application process to a candidate’s daily routine can hugely benefit your EVP as you project an image of an organisation that understands their people. Allowing candidates to smoothly switch between mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to desktop and laptop computers and back again makes the process more manageable and subsequently encourages more candidates to complete the process.

A potential drawback of an online application form is that it relies heavily on functionality; a faulty/badly designed application form can quickly spell the end of a candidate’s interest in a role when they have plenty of others to choose from. 61% of those that we spoke to stated that they have not applied for a position due a faulty application form. This is a significant statistic, as an employer already competing for top talent, would you then want to be left with only 39% of the pool?

A fully functional and comprehensive online application form can be a powerful tool when it comes to competing in the current job market. A defective, rushed online application is a quick and easy way to ruin your chances of securing the top candidates.

The rise of mobile traffic is a key factor when considering your approach. So far in 2015 traffic from mobile devices has made up 45% of traffic to jobsgopublic.com, considering this has risen from just 5% in 2011, mobile is clearly the future.

Whilst mobile applications are yet to become common practice, the role that mobiles play in the modern job search cannot be ignored. Those implementing a mobile strategy into their recruitment process will end up leading the pack.

Our study has shown that 77% of candidates will spend up to an hour researching an organisation prior to applying for a vacancy. 38% of participants then claimed to spend over 2 hours on an application with an additional 27% spending between 1-2 hours. This is a significant time commitment to expect from a candidate already spoilt for choice, so how can your approach convince them to commit this time?

This starts very simply by ensuring that the organisation’s website, which 87% of candidates use for research, is fully mobile responsive.

Google has recently implemented a new algorithm that favours mobile responsive sites in organic searches, the harder it is to find you the fewer people will make the effort to. Taking the necessary action to make your site mobile responsive will help secure visibility for those looking for you.

Secondly, a mobile responsive site makes it easier for those looking to research your organisation to do so on the move. Completing an application process all the way from the initial research to submitting a completed application is a significant time commitment. Allowing candidates to complete at least part of this process on their mobile phone considerably increases the likelihood that the candidates will commit the rest of the time necessary.

Without a comprehensive mobile strategy, it is unlikely that you will be able to provide the level of candidate experience necessary to secure the best candidates. Mobile has a big role to play in recruitment moving forward, it will be a crucial part of the candidate experience and ignoring it will have massive consequences.

In a candidate-driven market, those that truly place focus on the candidate experience are the ones who will prevail. Our study suggests that providing them with the opportunity to easily research your organisation and then apply smoothly through an online application form is currently the magic formula, but what will the future bring?

Will mobile devices eventually become the primary platform for applications? Will the continuous rise of social media see it take its place within the job application process? Whatever it may be, the balance of power currently lies with the applicant and those that disregard their opinions do so at great risk.


1. Sullivan, J. 2014. The power has shifted to the candidate, so current recruiting practices will stop working. [Online] [Accessed 18 June 2015] Available from http://www.eremedia.com/ere/the-power-has-shifted-to-the-candidate-so-current-recruiting-practices-will-stop-working

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