Candidate Drop Off[tweetmeme source= ‘@smashfly’ only_single=false]

There’s no secret that candidates are dropping off of the apply process today.  Depending on your recruiting organization you are in the dark about these candidates or you have the proper recruiting metrics to understand how many are actually dropping off the process.  No matter which one there’s one thing you know: candidates are dropping off at some point during the apply process.

The question, however, is threefold with these drop-off candidates:

  1. WHO are these candidates that are dropping off
  2. WHY are these candidates dropping off
  3. WHAT can you do to prevent candidates from dropping off

WHO is dropping off during your recruiting process?

Let’s start with the WHO.  When we look at the Who I like to think of it as the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Let’s take a look at the three main drop-off candidates.

The Good: There are a number of candidates that you WANT to drop off your process.  These are candidates that determine that they are unqualified for the position, were unclear about the position or just clicked the wrong link.  These candidates do you no good as applicants (although they might have some value as contacts) and it is good that they are dropping off the process.

The Bad: These candidates are the ones that are qualified for or would be a good fit for the position but for some reason CHOSE to drop off the process.  We’ll go over reasons why in a bit.

The Ugly: This is the worst case of drop off.  These candidates are qualified and WANT to apply but for some reason are unable to finish the apply process.

Now that we know who is dropping off, let’s take a look at why they are doing so.

WHY candidates are dropping off?

Candidates can drop off for a number of reasons but below I’ve created a list of many of the most common causes:

  • They see the Job Title and don’t even view the job ad.
  • They read the job description and realize they are unqualified for the position.
  • They read the job description and realize it was not what they the job would be.
  • They determine that your job ad messaging is not compelling enough to apply.
  • The job application is too long.  They decide not to finish it.
  • They are not prepared to apply quite yet (i.e. need to finish a cover letter, update a resume, etc.) – courtesy of Cambel in the comments
  • They become confused during the application and are unable to finish.
  • They run into an error in your application and can’t finish it.
  • They are interested in your company’s opportunities but decide not to apply for this specific position.

There are certainly more reasons why candidates drop off but those are some of the big ones.

WHAT can you do to prevent the GOOD candidates from dropping off?

In order to prevent good candidates from dropping off the process, there are a few things that you can do today.  Here are a few:

Job Messaging: The job ads you include in your job distribution campaigns are the first thing a job seeker sees in your apply process.  In order to ensure more candidates enter your application, you need to make sure your job messaging is compelling enough to make candidates WANT to apply.  Here are a few ways to improve your job messaging:

  • Answer the right ?’s: Make sure to answer most of the following questions in your job messaging:
    • Why should you want to work for our company?
    • What makes your company special? (for this one also try and include outside sources i.e. best companies to work for article)
    • What’s special about this particular position?
    • How can this help the candidates career?
    • Any needed skills? (should help remove the unqualified)
  • Use Bullets: You will have the candidates attention for at most 30 seconds.  Make it easy for them to read and identify the benefits of the position by using bullets.  It makes it much easier to read and scan your job ads.
  • Use Headings: Much like bullets, headings can make it easy for candidates to identify different value propositions you provide from why they should work for your company to skills that you are looking for.
  • Show personality: No candidate likes to read an ad that sounds like it comes from a compliance manual.  Instead use language that represents your company culture and sells the candidate on the position.

Capture Contacts: If you can’t get candidates to finish the apply process, you should at least try to capture them into your Talent Network or Recruiting CRM.  These candidates represent prospective applicants that you can communicate and engage with for future job opportunities at your company.

Application Process: At least a few times a year you should have your recruiters apply for a position at your company.  Make sure that every step in the process is clear and take into account the amount of time that it takes to complete the process from start to finish.  If you are pushing 10 minutes you may want to try and shorten your application process.

Follow Up: If you are capturing candidates in your recruiting process that don’t apply for the job position, why not reach back out to them in a day about the position?  Not only give them the opportunity to apply for the position again but also ask them why they dropped off in the first place.  This is invaluable information for your recruitment marketing strategy and you should ask your recruitment technology provider if this is doable.

The Big Finish

Candidates are dropping off your apply process as we speak but that doesn’t mean you need to be happy about it.  There are several things today that you can do in your process to ensure that the best candidates join your Talent Network and apply for your job positions.  The key is continual improvement in your recruiting process and having the metrics behind it to identify where these improvements can happen.

3 responses to “The Who, What & Why of candidates dropping off during the apply process”

  1. Our clients find candidates also drop off due to not being fully prepared to complete the process. ie they need to attach cover letters etc and their docs are either out of date or need refining to meet the specifics of the role so they come back later. So whilst they might drop off during the process they are also likely to come back when fully prepared.

  2. Hi Cambel,

    You’re definitely right. That’s an obvious one that I missed. I’m going to add it to the list.

    Thanks for the comment!


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