Optimizing Your Application Funnel for User Experience

Posted by Tim Malloy
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In the ever-competitive world of recruitment, where social media recruiting has provided an easier way to engage job searchers, companies are realizing that the best way to find the talent they need is to attract more qualified candidates. Simple enough, right? But in the digital age of recruitment marketing, companies must be able to efficiently sift through the high numbers of unqualified candidates in order to find the right talent, allowing them to streamline the application process, saving time and money, and creating a more meaningful user experience.

So how do companies ensure that the right candidates are finding their way through the application process?

In this post we will examine how user experience contributes to the applicant journey, the application funnel and how they can be optimized to attract talent.


The Funnel

For years marketers have been using the “Purchase Funnel,” which describes the process of a customer first coming into contact with a brand or product and ultimately making a purchase, to help understand consumer behavior. Purchase funnels also serve as a guiding light in producing marketing campaigns, CRMs and an effective sales process.

In an effort to optimize the recruitment process, HR professionals began applying the same principles of the purchase funnel to their business. The result is what is now known as the “Application Funnel,” or “Recruitment Funnel.”

Using the purchase funnel model in recruitment makes sense because jobs seekers and potential customers are similar users with comparable intents. Like a customer looking for a product or service to help them solve a problem, a job seeker has a specific set of qualifications it is looking for in a job. When recruiters are able to fill these qualifications early on in the candidate journey, it results in more qualified applicants.

An effective recruitment funnel allows recruiters to optimize each stage of the applicant journey from first contact to eventually hiring the candidate.


User Experience

User experience, sometimes abbreviated as UX, is exactly what it sounds like – it refers to how a person feels while they are using, or interfacing with, a system or device. Whether it is software, an app or a website, user experience is one of the most important design aspects because it is what allows a user’s needs to be fulfilled. A positive user experience also allows customer journey’s to be optimized on a website.

In terms of a recruitment or application process, a poor user experience will certainly reverberate negative effects through a recruitment funnel, ultimately showing itself in low applicants or the wrong hires.

For employers, an efficient and quick user experience is critical to attracting the right job candidates.

Author and information architect expert Peter Morville invented the “UX Honeycomb” to aid in the design of interactive user systems. The concept helps us move beyond the concept of “usability” and to understand all the aspects of user experience, further defining priorities.


Morville defines The parts of the UX Honeycomb as:

  • Useful. As practitioners, we can’t be content to paint within the lines drawn by managers. We must have the courage and creativity to ask whether our products and systems are useful, and to apply our knowledge of craft + medium to define innovative solutions that are more useful.
  • Usable. Ease of use remains vital, and yet the interface-centered methods and perspectives of human-computer interaction do not address all dimensions of web design. In short, usability is necessary but not sufficient.
  • Desirable. Our quest for efficiency must be tempered by an appreciation for the power and value of image, identity, brand, and other elements of emotional design.
  • Findable. We must strive to design navigable web sites and locatable objects, so users can find what they need.
  • Accessible. Just as our buildings have elevators and ramps, our web sites should be accessible to people with disabilities (more than 10% of the population). Today, it’s good business and the ethical thing to do. Eventually, it will become the law.
  • Credible. Thanks to the Web Credibility Project, we’re beginning to understand the design elements that influence whether users trust and believe what we tell them.
  • Valuable. Our sites must deliver value to our sponsors. For non-profits, the user experience must advance the mission. With for-profits, it must contribute to the bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.
a diagram of the recruitment funnel

Website Visitors (Branding): Messaging and branding aimed at job seekers with the goal of grabbing their interest. This is where a company will try to separate their open positions from other companies’ by highlighting what makes their jobs and culture unique.

Applications (Sourcing): This stage of the funnel represents the different ways for candidates to enter your application process. Candidates may enter this stage of the funnel through job boards, social media posts or ads.

Interviews (Candidate Experience): This stage represents how candidates engage with a potential employer during the application process. An efficient and user friendly application process is vital to this stage of the funnel, as it will turn applicants into interviewees.

Offers (Candidate Selection): The ways which employers gain insights on interviewees in order to make the best possible candidate selection. At this stage of the funnel an interviewee will turn into an offer, and eventually, a hire.


Hires (Insights): After the hire is made, it is important to analyze the data on the previous stages of the funnel in order to optimize them for the future.

It is important to analyze and attempt to optimize your recruitment funnel, as it will result in long-term health for your overall recruitment process. Funnels don’t only provide insights as to how you are converting applicants, but also how your users behave.

When analyzing how your recruitment funnel is working, it’s best to look at each stage of the funnel, noting any drop-offs or “choke points” in the pipeline. Issues within each stage of the recruitment funnel are typically directly affected by the focus of each stage in the funnel.

For example, if you are having trouble getting enough applicants into the funnel, chances are there are problems with your company branding. You may want to try changing the messaging of any marketing materials centered around the open positions. Try and set your company apart from any competitors. Each stage of the funnel directly impacts the next stage of the funnel, so ensuring that the flow of users is smooth from one stage to the next is imperative.


User Experience Drives Success

User experience is one of the critical drivers of your recruitment efforts. It doesn’t matter how beautifully designed your site is or how creative your mobile app is, if your audience is not able to easily interact with it, it will not be effective. Your application process provides that critical first impression of your company, allowing a short amount of time to persuade a candidate that yours is the right choice for them.

By enhancing and optimizing application processes for user experience, VIQTORY has created momentum to effectively accelerate our clients’ recruitment marketing efforts, producing powerful, tangible results.

Topics: candidate experience, application funnel, recruiting strategy, recruitment technology, talent recruiting tips, user experience, why user experience is important

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