The online job application process – a UX guide for recruiters

Candidates are rarely just a voice on the end of the phone these days, typically they will have followed an application/registration process online to find your recruitment organisation. Sometimes this is in the control of the job board that you pay to access, so little can be done.

What about when that process occurs within your own site? Are you converting your website visitors to registered candidates/applicants? or are you suffering visitor attrition? perhaps you’re not sure… maybe you assume that because you think your application process is simple, a candidate will as well. I’m afraid that’s simply not true!

The main thing, is to stop thinking like a recruiter, think like a candidate.

Think like a candidate

OK so you’ve found a recruitment agency website, maybe it’s even fairly to use, they’ve successfully viewed a job or two, now they want to apply through your website – jackpot!

But do they like what they see? Maybe they’re not 100% on the job (as many candidates often aren’t) and the slightest deviation from what they want will stop their application.

Remember, a web user is an impatient bugger, expects websites to act how THEY think it should act (which is unique to them) and can’t WAIT to click on a new website!

So here are a few essential tips to follow with your application process.

Essential considerations for your online application process

  • Using an application form immediately under your job description? Make SURE the form is short with only 5 or 6 fields max. I know it can be tempting to ask EVERYTHING about the candidate to cut down on your screening time, but if you have too many fields – you won’t have any candidates to screen! Styling wise (this is one for your chosen web designer) ensure you create the form with big text and plenty of padding. small text is so 90s, these days it’s big text, big fields, and benefitting from all the user confidence that comes with it.
  • Using an apply by email link? Be sure that the apply button is exceptionally obvious, sounds simple right? A lot of companies still don’t do it, and the attrition will increase as a result. Also why not auto-populate the subject field and body text to save your candidate some time, and better inform your consultant, it’s a fairly quick addition for a decent web developer to make – and your candidates love anything that allows them to be lazier!
  • Add share options to the foot of the page – any bogstandard recruiter knows the value of networking and referrals through their candidates, recruiting for IT? Guess what, computer nerds hang around in packs – trust me, we’re a company built of computer junkies! Your job might not be right for the chap reading it, but he might just bang it on his Twitter profile to show his mates, and bosh – you’ve got your own free networking – easy to install too.
  • Add ‘Email This Page’ option clearly – see above, candidates often know other candidates with a similar skill set, any means to allow applicant communication is vital.
  • Add ‘Return to vacancies list’ option – you read a job spec, not for you – what next, these guys caught your attention but this job isn’t the one, back to search more? or to a new site? I bet a recruiter would think a willing candidate will search their site thoroughly for the appropriate vacancy – very wrong I’m afraid! If they’re not actively encouraged to return and further scrutinise your own vacancies, guess what – they mind end up on your competitor’s site.
  • Using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? No probs – these systems garner fantastic management information, however you must be sure again that the application process is as concise as possible, and that the whole experience is as branded and feels as consistent as possible to the user – they don’t want to feel like they’re being bounced around hundreds of sites, or worry whether they’re applying for the right job or not… Make sure it’s consistent and the user feels orientated at all times, that is the absolute key to a successful user experience, and retaining your candidates right through to placement!

If you would like any further information on this topic, or just to have a quick informal chat about your own site – feel free to contact us at any time and we’ll hook you up with one of our recruitment digital experts.

let's discuss your project. 


0117 230 1510

Park House
10 Park Street


0208 230 1510

Studio 200,
Netil House
1 Westgate St,
London, E8 3RL