In order to deliver a truly efficient candidate experience, the online recruitment industry needs to come together to adopt a set of best practices. This is the first in a series of posts that explore a few of these potential best practices and the reasons they’re so urgently needed. In this post, we tackle the issue of the Login page “Apply” barrier and what we can do to eradicate it.

There is a multitude of reasons job candidates don’t click that final “Submit” button at the end of the online application process.

Sometimes, this happens because non-qualified candidates pull out of the process thanks to great knockout questions. Most of the time, though, candidates drop out of the application process due to a poor experience. It’s tedious and repetitive … or the questions seem intrusive or irrelevant … or the entire process itself is a confusing time-suck.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at how candidates are redirected to employers’ ATSs from recruitment sites and job boards. The one sticking point that really bothers me is the page that most candidates arrive at when they click that “Apply” button. The “Apply” button may be on the job board or it may be on the ATS site — but, either way, the experience almost always seems to be the same: candidates find themselves not on an actual application form but on a “Login” page.

In most cases, candidates have already spent considerable time just to get to this point. Now, they’ve got to figure out how to get beyond this page. What is this page exactly … and what site is it on? Do I have a login for this site? Do I have to register? How long is that going to take me? These are just a few of the questions that confound and frustrate candidates.

Sometimes there are several buttons on this page offering options to (possibly) save candidates time and effort (e.g., Login with LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+). But at this point many candidates rightly wonder what additional hoops they’ll have to jump through if they use one of these options. Many of them just abandon the process here,never even having seen an application form let alone that final “Submit” button.

That Login page bothers me. I understand if a candidate is really interested in a specific company and wants to repeatedly come to the same employer site to search for open positions and apply — but we know this doesn’t represent the majority of candidate traffic. For everyone else, this page is just another barrier.

I understand the value of having that user account after a candidate has applied. The candidate can come back and check on the status of her/his application and watch for other openings with that company. If candidates make it to an interview or the background check after being hired, their account enables them to interact with the employer’s ATS system. That’s fantastic. I think it’s great that we’ve evolved beyond so much paper sharing and phone calls. But let’s not get in the way of those great candidates who desperately want to get to that “Submit” button.

We need to break down this “Apply” barrier and get those applications submitted. Allow them to successfully complete an application … then follow up with a screen and/or an email asking them to create an account (or remind them if they already have!). Let’s inform our candidates as to what to expect next and how they’ll benefit from creating that account.

I know there are some great ATS products out there that operate this way, and I applaud them for breaking down this particular “Apply” barrier. They’re actively getting more quality completed applications for their customers. Now, we need to unite as an industry to get this done. Let’s start building upon and using best practices for our customers.

Breaking down these Apply barriers will go a long way toward our own evolution.

Image courtesy of pannawat at