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 Applying Online? Hang In There

By Joe Stein

Applying for a job may be the only example where filling out a form with a pen was much easier than using today’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) technology. We have become used to completing documents online, whether that may be a loan application or completing annual tax return documents, so it is not that we can’t or won’t do it.
In the “old” days, you had a paper application (usually front and back) that you filled out. This was usually done in the front lobby just prior to your 1st interview. Since most applications asked for the same or similar information, it was easy to prepare notes ahead of time, making completing an application an exercise that only took minutes to complete.
The problem with technology is that we tend to use it to collect an inordinate amount of data of which (much of it) we don’t really need or use. Recruiters and Hiring Managers love to add qualifying questions and assessments to their application process. This may add some useful information, but unfortunately can add upwards of 10-30 extra minutes to the application process. This is true regardless of what ATS is used, with some of the biggest players being named Taleo, ADP Workforce Now, and Workday.
Employers add this complexity to the application despite knowing what this typically does not only to the applicant experience, but also to the number of people who drop out without completing the document. Many candidates lose patience if the process takes more than a few minutes, and will move on to the next position which has an easier application.
A savvy Job Seeker will commit enough time to complete the application process for the positions that they really want (and if you think about it…why would you even start an application if you don’t feel real positively about the job). Studies show that approximately only 1 candidate out of 10 will complete an online application in its entirety. These numbers reflect that if you devote the time to completing the process, then you give yourself a huge advantage over others who were initially interested in the position.
I know that the new application process can be completely annoying, but there are some things that can be done that may make it a little more tolerable.
1. Check to see if your application can be saved along the way to completion. This way you can step away and refresh your brain without losing your place and having to start over.
2. Do some preparation ahead of time. Timesavers such as having the addresses/phone numbers of previous employers and references already written down for reference can really move the process along.
3. Try to complete the application when you have the time to do it completely. You will find it less stressful and annoying if you have already scheduled out the proper amount of time to finish.
4. Read the Job Description (and/or posting) ahead of time to provide you with a good idea regarding what the prospective employer is trying to gather from you. This will help you in entering keywords that will catch the eye of the system, and should also assist you with any assessment that may be included.
5. Prioritize the positions you are applying for. Focus on the positions you really want and complete them first in the day. This way you are not rushing at the end of the day or when too tired to complete. 6. Don’t overreact early if the system displays the number of steps in the process as you go along. Many times some of the steps, such as completing voluntary demographic information, only takes seconds to finish. The process, therefore, can give a false read regarding the time commitment.
Probably one of the most aggravating parts of searching for a new job in today’s world is the online application. Many employers have packed so much into their process that the time commitment has become a major deterrent for a vast majority of those interested in completing the application. This is good news for you, however, as it will weed out many candidates who are not as committed to the process as you are.
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As always, best of luck in your job search. _______________________________________________________________