So you posted a job, expecting qualified interested applicants to roll in... but then weeks later, you have very few qualified applicants to show for your efforts. What's going on? Your candidates may very well be starting your online job application and just never completing it — resulting in a high job application drop off rate. 

Take a look at your application process. Is the job description clear? Is it working on mobile? Is it just too darn long? Whatever the reason, the fact is that the fewer applicants who apply, the less likely you are to find your perfect candidate for the role.

Of course, you can use tools to improve results—such as Indeed Apply, our streamlined application process for desktop and mobile devices (more on that later). But you’ve got to get the nuts and bolts of the process right before technology can have its full impact. So let’s take a look at how your application process could be turning off job seekers, and what you can do about it.

1. Jargon is confusing to job seekers—so don’t use it.

Have you ever read a job description so full of jargon that it sounds like a robot wrote it? That approach just doesn’t connect with candidates, who want to know about things such as the company culture and the team they will be working with, as well as the details of the specific role.

So avoid using internal language an applicant won’t understand (and likely isn’t searching for) such as “Level 3 SFPT Associate for DQ4.” But don’t go to the opposite extreme and write jazzy job descriptions that are equally confusing, even if they’re more fun. “Rockstar Rainmaker” may sound cool, but “Sales Executive” is a lot clearer.

Keep it real. Keep it authentic. Let the company personality shine throughout the job description so job seekers can get a feel for who you are and why they should work there. Here are some tips to help you write great job titles and descriptions. Armed with this information, job seekers will do a better job of self-selecting for your roles and you’ll see fewer people dropping out mid-process.  

2. It’s a job application, not an online interrogation.

Some employers like to include a lot of questions in their job application process, believing that this makes it more “rigorous.” But what if, rather than rigorous, it’s just making the whole process more tedious, time-consuming and irritating?

“But wait!” I hear (some of) you cry. “These extra questions are helping us weed out the less qualified candidates.”

That’s the pushback I often get when I’m out talking to companies. Well, maybe so—but it's also weeding out those transformational candidates that we all want. Don’t believe me? Indeed research shows that applications with 20 screener questions lose 40% of candidates, and the abandonment rate only goes up from there When AT&T overhauled their job application process, reducing their screener questions by half, they not only saw the candidate drop off rate decline by 55% but they received more high quality applicants.

Put yourself in the shoes of the candidate. Go through the application process yourself. If you get distracted or frustrated and give up, you can be pretty sure that job seekers are doing the same.

Think about what information is critical to the first screening and pare down your questions to the minimum that you need. Other questions that dig into the deep details should be saved for later rounds of the interview process.

3. High job application drop off rate? Your jobs may not be working on mobile.

Although there is some variation according to industry, Indeed data shows that today the majority of job search takes place on mobile. So it’s critical to have a job application experience that works seamlessly across all devices.

What makes a mobile application experience go wrong? Well, pop-up menus or non-standard fonts can “break” on mobile. Too much scrolling, pinching or zooming can also make the application process more cumbersome. And excessively long, multi-step application processes can feel even more drawn out on a mobile device.

So to avoid a high job application drop off rate, make sure that your application experience is optimized for mobile and tablet views, from the length of the job description all the way to submitting the application.

If you don’t have the time or resources to work on this for your own site or want to simply decrease the barrier to applying for your jobs on other sites, then you can use Indeed Apply to create a fully mobile-optimized application process to help applicants connect with your jobs faster, resulting in time and money saved. 

If your ATS is a partner with Indeed (and over 170 are), you're in luck: your jobs are already enabled with Indeed Apply. And if your ATS isn't already a partner—you can find out here—you can send them a request from the Indeed website

4. Wait, didn’t I ask them that already?

You’ve cut down on questions, optimized for mobile—so what else could be wrong? Well, closely related to the problem of “too many questions” is the problem of redundant steps.

We've all been in the position of uploading a resume only to have to re-enter the information again, or having to recall every address you've lived in since the dawn of time. Or what about when a job seeker is redirected multiple times from a job board to the career site to a sub-site of the career site? Every additional step increases the risk that the job seeker will abandon the process.  

It boils down to this: You should value the candidate’s time. Likely they already have a demanding full-time position, and they may also be involved in community activities or family life.

Again, try the application process yourself. You’ll quickly see areas of the process that are time-consuming or frustrating. Aim to streamline the process to take five minutes or less.


Follow these four tips and you should start seeing better results from your job postings.

By streamlining and optimizing the application process you will not only have more candidates to select from, but you will also have candidates that are more engaged in a positive first experience with your company.

And that's not all: The better the experience your candidates have applying to your jobs, the more likely they are to share it with others, even if they don't get the job. After all first impressions count, and so does word of mouth—so take a look at how you can improve your application process today.

Learn more about how Indeed Apply can help streamline your mobile recruiting.  

Carmen Bryant is Global Director, Employer Insights at Indeed.