Job application on laptop

How to Improve Your Application Completion Rates

According to iHire’s 2021 State of Online Recruiting Report, one of the top challenges facing employers and hiring managers is high application abandonment rates. While it’s frustrating to know that potentially great candidates are falling out of your recruitment funnel too early, you may be able to address the issues that are preventing candidates from finishing their applications.

So, what can you do to create a good application form that won’t deter top applicants? Keep reading to learn some job application best practices and hear from real job seekers about what they appreciate when applying for jobs online.


Manager checking resume

Job Application Best Practices

Your job application completion rate is an important hiring metric, so before you go making any drastic changes to your process, you want to make sure your applications have the basics covered. This includes ensuring they follow guidelines from the EEOC, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other employment laws and regulations.

Along with the obvious legal issues, if a candidate sees unusual questions that could be construed as discriminatory, they may stop filling out the application and leave with a negative impression of your company.

Another thing to keep in mind when posting a job is the audience that will see your application. If you’re hiring for a specialized position or one that requires prior training, it can be a good idea to stay away from large job boards and instead post the position on industry-specific boards. That way, a candidate won’t get halfway through the application before realizing they’re not fully qualified (and abandon the process altogether).

Finally, remember that the job application is your initial touchpoint with the applicant. It can be tempting to put in a lot of prescreening questions, but that can bog down the application and make it take a lot longer than the candidate has time for (more on that later). If you keep the application short and to the point, you’re much more likely to raise your job application completion rate. You can always ask the prescreening questions when you begin the interview process.


Addressing Applicant Challenges

Challenges for Job Seekers Graphic


When asked about their biggest challenges when searching for work on a job board, job seekers surveyed for iHire’s 2021 State of Online Recruiting Report provided a variety of answers. If you’re able to address and mitigate these challenges, you’ll have a better chance of lowering your application abandonment rate. You can see all the challenges in the full report, but let’s take a look at some of the most common complaints related to the application process.

29.4% of job seekers said being directed to another site to finish an application was a major frustration, and 23.1% said the same about a long application process (with too many prescreening questions or assessments, for example). Streamlining the process so that the applicant only has to submit one application without navigating through other forms or websites will make it much easier for them to apply, thereby raising your application completion rate.

If you must direct the applicant to another site, say, from a job board to your company’s applicant tracking system (ATS), make sure that happens first in the process. There’s nothing more frustrating for a job seeker than submitting a resume and clicking “apply,” only to have to re-enter all that information again on your site.

Additionally, 50% of job seekers surveyed struggled with finding jobs in their desired location. Calling out the location of the job – including whether it is a remote position – upfront in the posting will lead to better application completion rates. It will also weed out those who may otherwise drop off once they figure out the position is not within a reasonable commuting distance.


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The final thing you can do to help candidates complete their applications is to communicate with them throughout the process. That starts with providing clear instruction in your initial job posting.

Not hearing back from employers, or “ghosting,” was the second most pressing challenge job seekers mentioned in the 2021 State of Online Recruiting Report. To help with this, consider specifying the next steps in your hiring process right in the job posting. When can candidates anticipate hearing back from you? When do you plan to conduct interviews? That way, job seekers will know what to expect and will be more eager to finish applying.

Another option to improve communication is to set up an automated email contacting candidates who have started an application but didn’t finish it. Encourage them to come back when they have time.

Communicating salary in the job posting is also a good idea. Not surprisingly, finding a job that meets their salary requirements was another challenge job seekers said they faced in our report. Putting the salary range in the job posting goes a long way toward motivating job seekers to finish their applications.

For more insights into common job seeker challenges, and more tips on how you can improve your hiring metrics such as application completion rates, download iHire’s 2021 State of Online Recruiting Report.

by: Doug Atkinson
August 23, 2021