SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal

3 Ways that Retailers Can Make the Apply Process Candidate-Friendly

It is no surprise that the greatest talent acquisition priority is improving the candidate experience. It makes sense. We live in an Experience Economy where success is defined by the happiness of our customers, employees, and even candidates. A positive experience is a non-negotiable in retail where customers and candidates are one in the same. And retailers are beginning to pay attention.

Research Aptitude conducted earlier this year found that nearly 70% of retailers believe their candidate experience has improved over the past year. In the employer’s mind, candidates seem to be doing just fine: happy and satisfied with the recruitment process. But how do they actually know this? Sadly, most don’t. They are making assumptions based on little data or insight. Research proves that there is a considerable disconnect between how employers view the candidate experience and how candidates are living it. According to The Talent Board’s 2016 Candidate Experience data, only 20% of candidates remember being asked for any feedback.

In order for retailers to improve the candidate experience, they must first understand that candidates want:

  • Simplicity: Candidates do not have a lot of time to spend applying for a job or navigating a complex application. They want a simple, straightforward apply process.
  • Feedback: Candidates want to know if anyone is reviewing their application and how long before they might receive feedback.
  • Convenience: Candidates want the convenience of applying for a job on their own time.

Once they understand what candidates want from the apply process, retailers should consider the following strategies to make that process more candidate-friendly:

  1. Shorten the Apply Process: It is surprising how many companies still create lengthy applications (over an hour), even in retail. If you want to get quality talent, applications must be shorter and allow candidates to apply quickly.
  2. Provide Feedback: Although most companies send an immediate “thank you”, nearly half of candidates never received an indication of the status of the application, a response to inquiries regarding why gender, race, and ethnicity questions were asked, or the option to save their application for a later date (according to The Talent Board). Additionally, 47% of candidates never received any communication 2 months after applying for a position.
  3. Offer Mobile Apply: It is so surprising how immature mobile still is in talent acquisition compared to other areas of the business. According to The Talent Board’s research, only 13% of candidates apply through a mobile device. In retail, having a mobile apply option is critical to improving the candidate experience.

The candidate experience is a priority for retailers looking to improve their talent acquisition efforts. Offering a better apply process involves shortening the application, providing feedback, and including mobile capabilities.

Madeline Laurano

Madeline Laurano

Madeline’s primary focus over the last 12+ years has been on the talent management market, specializing in talent acquisition. Her work helps companies both validate and reevaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency. Before Aptitude Research Partners, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.