Three-quarters of jobseekers abandon online applications after 15 minutes

Recruiters warn it is a ‘mistake’ to ignore user experience of job forms

Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of jobseekers would abandon an online application if it took 15 minutes or longer to complete, according to a new report.

The Hays What Workers Want Report 2018, which was publicly launched yesterday, also discovered almost one in 10 (8 per cent) job hunters would consider leaving an application after only five minutes. 

“Too many employers have been very slow to recognise the applicant’s user experience as a key tenet of their recruitment strategy, and by extension, the potential it has to paint either a very positive or negative first impression of the company,” said Simon Winfield, managing director of Hays UK and Ireland.

Speaking to People Management, Deborah O'Sullivan, operations director at recruitment experts Ten2Two, added it was a “mistake” for employers to ignore their online application’s user functionality. 

“It creates an overall impression of a brand and a first impression of what it might be like to work for that business,” O’Sullivan explained. “If the user experience and recruitment process is unresponsive, prolonged or difficult, it doesn’t tell a great story and could lose great talent from the outset.”

Dan Hawes, co-founder and marketing director at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, said he expected graduate jobseekers to be particularly put off by a slow application process and expect the internet to delivery quick and easy processes. 

“Companies may argue that if someone really wants a job then they should be prepared to complete the application process,” Hawes said. 

Hawes added the key is to make applications quick and easy – “so why not just ask for a CV to begin with and then follow up with a shorter form” or integrate gamification.

However, the Hays report also revealed two in five (41 per cent) employers were aware they offer a neutral to poor online application experience, but over half (54 per cent) were not prioritising improved user functionality as part of their recruitment strategy. 

While user functionality is important, Lee Biggins, CV-Library’s managing director, emphasised that employers need to take care not to “lose the human touch altogether” when using online application processes. 

“It’s important to remember to send a response, even if this is automated, to all who apply letting them know when you’ll be in touch,” Biggins said. “And be sure to keep all candidates in the loop, even if it’s dropping them an email to say their application hasn’t been successful at this time.”

The report also found over two-thirds (69 per cent) of applicants said having a contact who can update them on their individual applications was important. 

Of those applicants who reported having a bad experience with an employer’s career website, a third (29 per cent) attributed this to not having a contact available during the process.

Previous research found credible online reputations were also becoming increasingly essential for attracting top talent. The survey, published by Indeed in collaboration with Censuswide in August, revealed seven in 10 (70 per cent) jobseekers would not apply for a role until they had researched their potential employer’s online reputation

More than half (56 per cent) said they would not apply to a company that lacked on online presence, with 57 per cent reporting they would “automatically distrust” a business with no digital identity.