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Candidates abandon job applications after 15 minutes

The majority (73%) of applicants abandon job applications if they take longer than 15 minutes, according to Hays

Its What Workers Want Report 2018 also found that 49% of candidates would consider applying for a role instantly if the process appeared simple.

The research, which surveyed 14,600 employers and employees, found that the majority of employers are failing to prioritise online application processes as part of their talent attraction strategies, however.

Half (50%) of applicants gave a neutral to very poor rating of their experience when applying for a role directly on an employer’s website or online jobs portal. The majority (72%) of those who gave these ratings blamed a lengthy process with too many requirements as the main factor.

While 41% of employers are aware that they may offer a neutral to poor application experience via their career websites, 54% are still not prioritising improved user functionality, the report found.

When applying online applicants expected to be able to edit and submit their CV easily (90%), save job searches (80%), and receive job alerts (76%).

Despite the emphasis applicants place on a simple online process, the report found that they still value personal interaction. More than 69% of applicants said it is important to be in contact with a person who can provide updates on their individual application.

This need for clear communication was a recurring theme. For example, 57% said it was important to receive confirmation of moving to the interview stage within a week of applying. Thirty-six per cent of employers reported this process typically takes more than a week, however.

Following the final job interview, 58% of applicants expect to hear within three days whether they have been successful, but 33% of employers failed to work to this timeline and typically took a week or more to respond to the applicant. More positively, having two rounds of interviews was seen as the optimum by both employers and employees.

Simon Winfield, managing director for Hays UK & Ireland, said that it's unsurprising that people expect an easy application process online. “Today’s candidates are more digitally fluent than ever before. They have become accustomed to doing everything online; from communicating with friends and catching up on news to managing their finances and booking their holidays," he said.

"As a result they have come to expect a very slick and intuitive user experience regardless of service or function. Not unreasonably, they expect the same ease of use when applying for a new role."

Failing to address complicated recruitment processes could mean that organisations lose out on talent, he added. “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," he said. "In neglecting to invest in the applicant’s user experience many employers may be undermining their ability to compete for the best talent.”

Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said that employers should consider reaching out to typically overlooked groups to attract new talent.

“The government’s proposed post-Brexit migration system will mark a major shift in our labour market, and could fundamentally change how many industries operate.

“Low-paying sectors with a large share of migrant workers, such as food manufacturing and hotels, are going to need to rethink not only what they produce but their approach to recruitment, retention and automation. More broadly, employers should also up their game on training and bringing harder-to-reach groups, like people with a disability or ill health, into the labour market."

He added that uncertainties remain over EU workers' availability after Brexit.

“The government will need to phase in the new system to give firms time to adjust. Lots of questions remain too – from potential exemptions to the ban on low-skilled workers in some sectors, to the kind of access EU workers will have as part of the ‘deep and special partnership’ the prime minister is seeking to negotiate after Brexit. But with Labour also backing the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee, industry should no longer be in any doubt that major change is coming.”