Applicant Journey
People and Culture

5 Ways To Improve Your Applicant Journey

Gary Zurnamer

November 14, 2023



While your applicants are working hard to secure the role at your company, your hiring team are working just as hard to find and secure the right person for your open position. 

Recruitment is a dance.

Yet, according to JobArc, around 72% of candidates have had a bad experience during the job application process, and it makes sense most people need to understand the time and effort it takes to fill a role.

A million intricacies are required to find the perfect person for your company, culture, and position.

The challenge is, how do you provide a great experience so the top talent chooses your company over a competitor? And if they have a bad experience, will they apply for a future role?

Understanding your applicant journey is key, so let's dive in.

Defining the Applicant Journey

The path for your candidates, from junior positions to director-level roles, is often the same.

So, no matter the role, you want to ensure that your applicant journey is a great experience.

The applicant journey usually looks something like this:

1. The applicant sees your position

2. They visit your website 

3. They search review sites like Glassdoor

4. They update their resume for the role

5. They submit their resume

6. They apply for other roles at the same time

7. They make a phone interview

8. They make a Zoom or in-person interview

9. They get or don't get the job

As you can see, the typical applicant journey is extensive.

While that's fine for job seekers who blast their resumes - and aren't too invested in a role, it's not great for more experienced candidates - who you want. They will likely pour hours into each company and application.

It's easy to see why 72% of job seekers need a better experience. 

Active v.s. passive candidates

When we look at the applicant journey, we need to consider that there are two groups of job seekers: active and passive.

Depending on your recruitment marketing strategy, often a large portion of the promising candidates are passive. Good candidates are likely currently employed, working for themselves or under a contract, and they see your position only through social media channels or a network. 

This means many of the most talented people you can hire are probably not looking for a job.

Companies are missing out on considerable opportunities to hire the best people if they only focus on active candidates. It's another reason that your applicant journey needs to be a positive experience, nay, a remarkable experience.

The key is to make the most of every touchpoint for both active and passive candidates.

That's where recruitment marketing strategies and tools like Vouch can significantly help your recruitment process.

5 ways to create a more positive applicant journey.

If you work in hiring, you'll know how time-consuming the applicant funnel and screening process can be. The tips below are designed to help you, not only your applicants. 

1. Work on your employer branding

For many candidates, the journey starts with something other than their application; it begins with researching your company. 

One study from CR Magazine found that 69% of candidates wouldn't accept a job with a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. This data says it all.

To create a more positive applicant journey, we need to consider "how" applicants see your company and the many touch points like viewing your company's website, reading your reviews, looking at your social profiles, etc.

One surefire way to improve your employer brand is to let your current employees tell their own stories of working at your company. This is where a tool like Vouch comes in remarkably helpful; the tool can do most of the heavy lifting for you.

By using employee testimonials across every single one of your company's touchpoints, you can really start to build your employer brand and get the best talent interested in working for your company. Making a positive impression is the first step in attracting the right candidates - for both active and passive candidates.

Building and managing a leading employer brand solution is essential if you want to attract the best talent into your company. 

2. Put the candidate at the centre of the process

The candidate must be front and centre at every step of the recruiting process. If they aren't, you could risk losing top talent and turning off job seekers. For a candidate-centric hiring model, the candidate's experience should always come first.

But the point of candidate-centric recruiting isn't just to give them a great experience and make it easier to hire the right person; it's also to build long-term relationships with them so they keep working with your business even if they don't get the job.

A candidate-centric approach includes employer branding, your application process, regular communications so candidates know their information was received and is being looked at, scheduling of interviews, the information given to prospects - and hopefully, the onboarding process. 

Ensuring every company representative who works in the hiring process knows your candidate persona and the entire process of the applicant journey, like the back of their own hands, is critical. 

3. List the needs of the candidate

For most companies, hiring people is about more than just filling seats.

You want to ensure you know what your job candidates want from a perfect role so that they not only onboard with you but stay to flourish - and, in turn, help your company thrive.

Empathy is key here, and you need to ask yourself, "What do your candidates need to know to help them get involved with your company?" "What are their career goals?" and questions like "What kind of career opportunities does my company really offer?"

Forbes did one study that showed what employees want from their jobs is freedom, health care, and a stronger sense of purpose. Remuneration is usually not at the top of an experienced employee's list of needs and wants, and finding out what they need early on in the process makes the experience for the candidate much more positive. Keep in mind positive candidate experiences are the goal.

In 2024, the trend for job security is also snowballing as we face uncertain financial times. Be sure to understand that the entire journey can include the overall current job market.  

4. Apply for your own jobs

Have you ever tried applying for your own job positions? To be able to put yourself in a candidate's shoes is everything, and this simple process might surprise you. 

For companies who undertake this exercise to improve their applicant journey often find problems like having to answer too many questions, can't contact anyone by phone, can't upload certain documents like their cover letter due to the format types (not everyone has Word anymore), or struggle when it comes to file sharing.

The experience of candidates is what we are trying to understand.

Understanding every step of the candidate's journey is crucial; hiring managers can't assume they know the touchpoints candidates experience. However, potential employees (and future employees) alike need to go through all of these touch points - so you better make sure your application funnel provides a great experience.

5. Create an applicant journey map

Once you've gone through your own application process, creating an applicant journey map is one great way to ensure the job application process is as quick and smooth as possible.

For example, you could reduce your processes and give the candidate as much power and flexibility as possible over the application process, such as letting candidates set up their own interview times based on your schedule using tools like Calendly.

This can also save you time because you won't have to call and email candidates back and forth. It also puts interview times right on your calendar.

An applicant journey map lets you see what touchpoints a candidate may be going through at each stage of their journey to understand a candidate's behaviour, experience and mindset. Second, it helps your recruiters optimize their own workflows.

An applicant journey map can be a sketch or use tools like Canva, one of our clients here at Vouch. We love their software. 

Start improving your applicant journey today

The first step is to tell people what working for your business is like.

Employer branding, showing candidates what it's like to work at a company, is one of the most important things during the hiring process. If a candidate loves what you do enough, often they will happily work through the other application steps.

On paper, your position might look great. But a candidate needs to be able to picture themselves in the job and the daily life at your company. 

The best way to show candidates what it's like to work in your company is to show the experience of your current employees. 

That's where Vouch is ideal. You can quickly capture employee testimonials and build your employer brand, all with your current internal resources. If you would like to see Vouch in action, book a demo to see why companies like Canva, Amazon, Dropbox, Atlassian, HubSpot, Shopify and more use our software.

Gary Zurnamer

Gary Zurnamer

Co-Founder and CEO of Vouch.

Lights. Camera. Traction

Cut through the noise with video.