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4 Things Job Seekers Hate About Online Applications

4 Things Job Seekers Hate About Online Applications
Online job applications can be helpful for hiring managers, but not all job seekers are happy with the automated process. / Credit: Apply online image via Shutterstock

Most of today's job seekers have filled out an online application for a prospective employer. These automated applications ask candidates to input their personal and résumé information, usually in the form of drop-down menus and blank fields. That information becomes part of a vast database of applicants, of whom only a lucky few are ever actually contacted by employers.

While utilizing automated applications can save a hiring manager the hassle of sifting through a barrage of emails with traditional résumés and cover letters, many applications submitted online end up being ignored, without so much as an acknowledgement of receipt by the employer. This growing trend of silence in response to résumés is known as the "résumé black hole," and according to a recent study by recruitment service provider Seven Step RPO, the online job-application process is part of the problem.

"Since the economy bottomed out in 2008, the résumé black hole has gained folklore status, cropping up in the national employment conversation every few months," said Paul Harty, president of Seven Step. "While employers might prefer to believe it's a myth, our recent survey of more than 2,500 job seekers indicated that this phenomenon is real, and that employers' automated applications are a major contributor." [11 Resume Myths Busted]

Building a robust, sustainable talent pipeline should be at the top of every company's agenda, said Harty, but employers aren't managing the application process in a way that allows them to fully capture and leverage their candidates' talent. Seven Step used its survey data to reveal the top four problems candidates have with online job applications.

Candidates who apply online are often ignored. One-quarter of survey respondents indicated that they never received employer acknowledgement of their last online application. Seniors and millennials appeared to be most likely of all age groups to be ignored by employers, with nearly 45 percent of seniors and 40 percent of millennials reporting that they didn't get an employer response. 

Online applications take too long to fill out. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of all candidates won't spend more than 15 minutes filling out an online application, although tolerance for lengthy applications varied by age. Candidates ages 25 to 34 appeared to be the most impatient age group, as 36 percent of them were willing to spend 15 minutes or less, while 35 percent of millennials (under age 25) were willing to spend 45 minutes or more on a single application.

Employers don't stay in touch. Seven Step's survey authors noted that employers should create true talent communities through networking to foster ongoing candidate engagement, even if there are no available positions for that particular candidate. Two-thirds of all candidates surveyed weren't asked to join prospective employers' talent communities, meaning there was no further communication after they submitted their applications.

Candidates get an automated response, not a real person. More than 40 percent of all survey respondents said they seek out a direct human resources contact on the employer's website, even after filling out an online application. This behavior is especially prevalent among higher-income households: 80 percent of candidateswith incomes between $100,000 and $150,000 reported that they would rather apply directly through a hiring manager than through an online form.

Based on Seven Step's study, the best way for employers to avoid pushing talent away is to be responsive to and engaged with candidates.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.