4 Favorite Tips for Getting Applicants to Actually Finish Your Credit Union's Application Process

By Christine Pena-Oquist

So you’ve started writing awesome job ads, and more and more job seekers are clicking your “apply now” button. That’s fantastic news! But, you have a new problem. A high percentage of those applicants are abandoning the process before completing it. What can you do about that?

Here are four ways to improve your credit union's application completion rate:

#1 Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes.

It's so easy to dismiss applicants who fail to complete their application as lazy or incompetent fools whom you wouldn’t want as employees anyway. The problem with that line of thinking is that it just isn’t true in this job market. It’s much more complex than that. People are busier than ever and many good potential employees are actually currently employed.

These job seekers might have all the skills, talents, experience, and traits you’re looking for. But, they don’t have all the time in the world to fill out applications. They do have access, however, to more job listings than ever before on large online job boards like indeed.com, on social media, as well as in all the traditional sources.

So, if these qualified candidates can only put a few hours a week into applying for jobs, they’re going to pick the ones that sound the most promising. And, then, they’re not going to be willing to spend a high percentage of that time completing only one of those applications. Here’s an article with more information about why hiring professionals often target desperate job seekers, but really shouldn't.

It’s also important to understand that just as you use the application process to evaluate potential employees, they use it to evaluate you as a potential employer. So, when your application process is sloppy, unorganized, repetitive, or unnecessarily drawn out, and there's a lack of communication or feedback; they reevaluate their desire to work for you.

According to this 2015 Candidate Behavior study by CareerBuilder, “More than 3 in 4 candidates (77 percent) are willing to accept a salary that is 5 percent lower than their expected offer if the employer created a great impression through the hiring process.” So, yes, making your application process as smooth and painless as possible, is worth your time!

Getting into the job seeker's shoes is not a new concept, you did it when you made up a job seeker persona and wrote an awesome ad based on it. It's just a matter of extending this philosophy to the application process as well. In order to effectively make the following changes, it will really help you to think like a job seeker and make changes accordingly.

#2 Shorten your application.

Employers often base their application on templates or old applications that have been repeatedly recycled. Such forms tend to include every hiring question that has ever been thought up. The premise seems to be that it's best to capture as much information as possible, use what’s needed, and ignore the rest. Some employers might even believe that such bloated paperwork makes their job opening seem more important. However, when you put yourself in the shoes of the applicant, you realize how disrespectful this is of their time.

Start by removing any questions or fields that you don’t actually use in the initial screening process. Pay special attention to ones that a job seeker wouldn't know how to answer without doing some research.

How would you feel if you spent a couple hours digging up some information for a job application, only to find out that the potential employer didn’t actually need that information in the first place? It was just included on the application because, well, “because...”

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A great example would be when employers ask for the addresses and phone numbers of previous employers. Most employers don’t use this information for anything, and most job seekers don’t have it memorized.

Also, make sure that you don’t ask for the same information more than once. And, if you ask them to upload a resume as part of the initial application process, don’t ask them to fill out all that information about their work experience in the application too. Nobody likes busy work!

#3 Break the application into two stages.

The first stage (initial interest) should include job-specific screening questions, resume, voluntary disclosure (race, gender, vets, disabled), and how they heard about the job.

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The 2nd stage (long application) would be collected before or after an on-site interview and would gather the remaining information such as additional employment & education details, references, applicant disclosures, background authorization, etc. We would even suggest putting off the background check authorization until the point of a job offer, but that is up to you.

This saves you time and energy too! Why would you want to handle all that information on an applicant that you already knew, after reading their answers to a few of the screening questions, was not right for the position?

#4 Identify which parts have the highest drop-off rates and adjust the instructions, questions, or timing.

Find the points in your application that are causing the most issues, consider them from the point-of-view of your applicants, and make educated guesses as to why. Then, make some changes and continue monitoring the drop-off rates to see if they improve. This can actually be kind of fun as you start to see which of your changes are getting results.

I hope these tips were helpful. Come back soon for more ideas to help improve your hiring process.

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