Now we acknowledge that some organisations are building talent communities for strategic sourcing purposes however the truth is that a vast majority of organisations are still reliant on promoting their roles on external job boards/search engines and own careers pages. These sourcing avenues are not going away anytime soon and so it's vital that the job application process which originates at these avenues is optimised as much as possible to minimise the risk of applicant abandonment.
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules around the optimum number of job applicants that will lead to a successful onboard we believe that if you are in single “digit” territory after a few days of promotion and this seems to trend across a number of your roles then perhaps it’s time for you to review the application process and the candidates experience through that process. The easiest way to do this is to put yourself in your candidate's shoes and apply for one of your own jobs. You will soon get a feel for the ease or pain you are putting each applicant through. Oh... and while you are at it try applying from a mobile device and see what happens...are you directed to a mobile friendly application page?
What can you do if you need to change your application process?
Well, unfortunately you may not be able to change the application process that easily as it may be managed by the recruitment software that is being used by your organisation to track candidates through the recruitment process. If that is the case then you should at least see if there is some flexibility provided by the software to add or remove “screening” questions on a job by job basis.
Whilst recruitment systems are becoming more flexible nowadays some still lock all applicants into the same process for each and every job. This may be fine for some organisations however if your organisation needs to have flexibility on a job by job basis then a system that allows you to add/remove questions on the fly to a basic standard form perhaps offers the best alternative. One great thing about having this sort of flexibility is that it allows you to test the application process with different sorts of questions and gather feedback on the impact of those questions and the applicant numbers.
Also worth consideration is the ability to filter candidates based on the responses they have provided. It's all very well having the ability to add questions specific to the role but if the recruitment team can't filter the candidate’s responses then the point of asking the question in the first place is somewhat lost. Finally if you are asking questions specific to a role then you need to think deeply about those questions in terms of appropriateness, relevance and quantity. We have seen on a number of occasions that the questions being asked are not necessary in the first round of screening and would be better positioned during a potential interview stage. We have also seen on occasions where a whole list of open ended questions were being asked when perhaps some of them would have been better constructed as closed questions with a pre-defined list of answers. All of these considerations can have a bearing on your applicant numbers.
Remember test, assess and modify
So, in summary, if you are concerned about the low number of applicants for your roles don't automatically assume there are no candidates out there. Double check your application process and the candidate experience. Put yourself into your applicants shoes and actually apply for one of your jobs and see how wonderful or painful it is. Is your job application process too long? Is it too short? And more importantly can you change it to suit the type of roles you are recruiting for?
All the best and happy recruiting.