For an online job application, why do we force users to enter so much information?
I would frequently see memes on Reddit about how a job application would have a step by step process of entering all the same information found on your resume, then on the final step, asking you to upload a resume. 🤦
It's a frustrating, deflating and it’s time consuming experience. Job seekers apply to dozens of jobs during the search, so anything repetitive adds up quickly.
As a Product Designer, I get it. Entering that information explicitly into an input allows platforms to store that data without having to spend computing power on parsing it from the resume. But the resume is still there for backup and historical data.
Not only were we aware of this common frustration with our application experience, we were also aware that our job postings on Accountingfly were converting lower than the industry average according to data released by platforms like Indeed, Monster, etc. as well as industry media.
I was fortunate at Accountingfly that we had acquired a media company called Going Concern, which had an active community who was not shy about sharing their opinions on anything in the accounting industry and they definitely let us know that if they see a long job application process, they were out.
“If a firm’s job application looks like it came from the 90’s, and their website does too, I just assume their internal software and processes are unrefined and out-of-date as well. Hard pass.” - Anonymous
This was invaluable feedback, and really shifted the perspective we had on our platform, but also on our content. We were a disruptive company, pushing analog firms into digital processes and wanted to be seen as thought leaders and change makers, yet here we are with an outdated application process that represented us and all the companies on our platform.
Next I started by interviewing our Account Managers and users to find out of the information we captured in an application, what information was:
actually being used
We captured a lot of information, especially about Education and Work History. Were companies even reviewing this information?
I found out that not only were they not making use of most of the information we capture, but it was cumbersome to get to the information they did need, and there was really important, decision-making information we didn't even capture.
Our users still had to manually parse out information from what was provided, and add it to a generic Notes input for each applicant. They had to tally years of work experience in their head, look through their history to identify if they had public or private experience, etc..
This really meant that our platform wasn’t providing true value or really saving Employers any meaningful amount of time in their day.
A representation of the before/after of the application form.
Armed with this new knowledge, I could create a new hierarchy of information that would drive the direction of not only the application itself, but a whole new way of displaying and sorting the information inside the Employer’s dashboard.
Applicants Applicants could now enter very specific career data that was a key indicator of relevance and qualifications for the job. This specific data entry helped establish our brand and platform as an authority in the industry and established trust with our user base as it showed users that we understood their profession at a deeper level.
Employers Employers now saw a redesigned Jobs dashboard that put the most important data in filterable and sortable columns, allowing bulk actions like Move To and Reject, which saved them hours.
For example: Even though a job has it’s requirements, applicants without the necessary amount of credit hours or public accounting experience would still apply. Employers could now sort by this metric, select all who didn’t meet the requirement, and bulk move them to the Rejected tab that would automatically send out a customized message.
Other Considerations We definitely considered a process that relied only on a resume, but determined that, with our small team, parsing was just out of the question. It was too intensive a project to put on our 3 Engineers, and was a fundamental shift in our tech stack.
After release we saw a 20% increase in conversion on our application page as well as a 100% increase in number of application per visitor. I definitely chalk this up to the page being more digestible and not as intimidating as the prior version.
We headed back to Going Concern to get feedback on the new process and received very positive feedback on how they appreciated that they only had to enter a few key data points in order to submit an application.